|Title:||Oblique Subjects and Stylistic Fronting in the History of Scandinavian and English: The Role of IP-Spec|
|Authors:||Gunnar Hrafn Hrafnbjargarson|
|Abstract:||The thesis discusses three morphosyntactic changes in Danish, Faroese, Norwegian, Swedish and English, namely the loss of morphological case, loss of V-to-I movement and the loss of stylistic fronting. The changes are observed on the basis of Icelandic which has kept all three characteristics.
The hypothesis is that even though the loss of morphological case causes the loss of DAT-NOM constructions (i.e. sentences with a dative subject and a nominative object), these constructions are not 'normalized' (made into NOM-ACC) in one step, but rather through a systematic process which consists of two different changes. Old English had and Icelandic still has sentences with a dative subject and nominative object, in Old and Middle Danish, Middle English and Faroese, these constructions have changed to sentences with a dative subject and an accusative object and in Present Day English, Danish, etc. they have gone one step further and changed to sentences with a nominative subject and an accusative object.
The synchronic part of the discussion about the DAT-NOM construction attempts to explain how the finite verb can show agreement with the nominative object, why non-nominative subjects must be animate and furthermore, why nominative objects can only be third person.
The other construction that is discussed is stylistic fronting. Firstly it is shown that stylistic fronting was possible in Old and Middle Danish, and that the loss of stylistic fronting first took place after the loss of V-to-I movement. The synchronic analysis of stylistic fronting is that stylistic fronting is driven by an abstract focus feature and that it is movement into an articulated CP domain. This makes it possible to explain why stylistic fronting can have a semantic effect and why there is a difference in the possibility of stylistic fronting in clauses without a phonetically realized subject and clauses with a weak subject pronoun. If it is further assumed that the articulated CP domain depends on the presence of V-to-I movement, it is possible to establish a connection between the loss of stylistic fronting and the loss of V-to-I movement.
The two theoretical frameworks used in the thesis are Optimality Theory and the Minimalist Program.