Promoting the demoted: The distribution and semantics of “main clause word order” in spoken Danish complement clauses

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In this article, we investigate a hypothesis regarding the distinction between the word orders ‘finite verb, adverb’ (V>Adv, in Scandinavian linguistics often considered an instance of V2, also in subject initial clauses) and ‘adverb, finite verb’ (Adv>V, sometimes referred to as V3) in Mainland Scandinavian complement clauses. The hypothesis is semantico-pragmatic and reads that V>Adv signals foregrounding of the subordinate clause, i.e. that its content is the main point of the utterance. Our results, based upon detailed coding of the LANCHART corpus of spoken Danish, are readily interpretable as supporting the semantico-pragmatic hypothesis. Our results show that V>Adv is much more frequent in subordinate clauses than commonly assumed, and that complement clauses in Danish are not in general characterized by having Adv>V word order, but only by the possibility of having this word order. Results seemingly in conflict with predictions of the semantico-pragmatic hypothesis are discussed with respect to possible norm conflicts and shifts in communicative strategy during speech production.
Translated title of the contributionOpskrivning af det nedskrevne: Distribution og semantik af "helsætningsordstilling" i ledsætninger i dansk talesprog
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-58
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - complement clause, word order, variation, Danish, foregrounding, main clause phenomena

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