Line Dalberg

Line Dalberg

PhD student

Current research

My PhD project is part of the Midgram project. In collaboration with Lars Heltoft, Peter Juul Nielsen (SDU), and Bjarne Simmelkjær Sandgaard Hansen, I study certain grammatical aspects of the Danish Medieval language. Danish Functional Linguistics and modern functional theories on grammaticalization is the theoretical ground of the project.

In my PhD project I study the development of word order patterns in Middle Danish subordinate clauses. In the Middle Danish period (ca. 1100-1525), the Danish language changes dramatically in several aspects: both phonologically/phonetically, morphologically, and syntactically as well as the lexicon. My focus is on the innovation and development of a new word order pattern in subordinate clauses. We can see the output of the development in the topological (word order) difference between Modern Danish main and subordinate clauses - the difference is the position of the sentence adverbial (ikke 'not') in relation to the finite verb (gider):

"Han gider ikke at klippe hæk"                                                         

'He does not want to cut the hedge' 

"Jeg ved bare, at han ikke gider at klippe hæk"                                   

'I just know that he does not want to cut the hedge

The development has been described in the existing litterature, but unfortunately quite simplificated. Much more happens in the Middle Danish subordinate clauses, than the Modern pattern leads us to believe. 

The study is a quantitatively based exploration of subordinate word order in 25 Middle Danish texts. Furthermore, I test a hypothesis that suggests that the development is initiated by a reanalysis of a topologically marked focus structure: the Middle Danish language user begins to copi a certain focus marking structure from one position in the clause to another, that is the position in front of the finite verb - this is where we find the sentence adverbial today. Along the way the pre-verbal position loses its focus marking function, and the position is then again reanalyzed: it becomes an indicator of syntactic subordination (in the written language).   

Supervisor on the project is Lars Heltoft, Torben Juel Jensen is co-supervisor.

Primary fields of research

Danish grammar (especially syntax), Danish and Scandinavian languages, historical linguistics and language change, grammaticalization, Danish Functional Linguistics

ID: 143260143