Scandinavian Object Shift is Phonology

Nomi Erteschik-Shir, Gunlög Josefsson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The problem addressed in this paper is a case of word order microvariation in Mainland Scandinavian: optional vs. obligatory Object Shift (OS). Following standard assumptions (see Selkirk 1996), weak object pronouns are assumed to be affixal clitics at PF which do not themselves have the status of prosodic words. Since adverbs (including negation), areunsuitable as hosts, weak object pronouns may undergo OS, in other words precede adverbs, ending up encliticized onto the preceding verb or subject. In standard Danish, OS is obligatory; the order adverb+weak pronoun is blocked. However, in Swedish, OS is optional, as isthe case for some Danish dialects, spoken in the southeastern island area. In our paper we explain the distribution of optional vs. obligatory OS by the phonological properties of the two varieties. What “optional OS” in Swedish and varieties of Danish have in common is the occurrence of a tonal accent, which creates a larger phonological unit than the minimalprosodic word, a Tonal Unit. We propose that the mechanism that allows a weak pronoun toremain in the canonical position in Swedish and the southeastern island dialects in Danish,is the availability of tonal accent. The tonal accent enables the inclusion of the pronoun insuch a unit. Standard Danish, on the other hand, lacks tonal accent altogether which is why OS is obligatory in this dialect.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOrder and structure in syntax I
Subtitle of host publicationWord order and syntactic structure
EditorsLaura R. Bailey, Michelle Sheehan
PublisherLanguage Science Press
ISBN (Electronic)9783961100262
ISBN (Print)9783961100279
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
  • Humaniora och konst
  • Humanities
  • Jämförande språkvetenskap och allmän lingvistik
  • Languages and Literature
  • Object Shift
  • Phonology
  • Prosody
  • Mainland Scandinavian
  • Tonal Accent
  • Språk och litteratur


Dive into the research topics of 'Scandinavian Object Shift is Phonology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this