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The emergence of definiteness marking in Scandinavian - new answers to old questions
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Scandinavian Languages.
2016 (English)In: Arkiv för nordisk filologi, ISSN 0066-7668, Vol. 131, 129-169 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article takes up the much debated questions of how and when the definite forms of nouns emerged in Scandinavian. The topic has been paid great interest over the years, but answers to the questions still vary considerably, no doubt because this very early process is difficult to follow in detail in written sources. The conclusions in this article are founded on a variety of approaches, combining solid empiricism and theoretical considerations. Further­more, empirical evidence from all over Scandinavia is considered. It is found that the definite suffix probably emerged from two related demonstratives (with weakened deixis), hinn on the mainland and enn on Iceland, in parallel, mutually independent processes. This means, in turn, that the emergence must be dated to a point of time after the colonization of Iceland. In order to reach a more precise dating, insights from functionalist and Minimalist approaches to grammaticalization are taken into account. It is suggested that the definite form emerged around 1000, not long before the first attested instances are found, but it is maybe not until the 12th century that it had a more noticeable impact on people’s linguistic usage.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 131, 129-169 p.
Keyword [en]
development of definiteness marking, Early Scandinavian, definite suffixes, grammaticalization
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Scandinavian Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-310607OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-310607DiVA: diva2:1057277
The syntax of the Early Scandinavian Noun Phrase
Swedish Research Council, 421-2010-1272
Available from: 2016-12-16 Created: 2016-12-16 Last updated: 2017-01-13Bibliographically approved

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Stroh-Wollin, Ulla
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