The form and position of pronominal objects with non-nominal antecedents in Scandinavian and German

  • Kristine BentzenEmail author
  • Merete Anderssen
Original Paper


The present paper discusses a possible correlation between the placement of pronominal objects with non-nominal antecedents in Norwegian, and the use of the pronouns es ‘it’ and das ‘that’ in German. For Norwegian object shift (OS), it has been shown that while pronominal objects with non-nominal antecedents generally do not shift, this is not the case when these elements take on the discourse function of continuing topics. In this paper, we show that a very similar pattern can be observed in German. However, this is not related to whether object pronouns scramble or not, but rather to which pronominal form is used to refer back to the clausal antecedent. In German, das is generally used to refer back to non-nominal antecedents, however, es is also sometimes an option. In this study, we find parallels between the use of OS and es, on the one hand, and lack of OS and das, on the other, and propose that the former is preferred when the proposition the proform refers back to is part of the common ground in the discourse. This ties in nicely with previous research on Norwegian OS, as in order for a proposition to constitute a continuing topic in the discourse, it has to be established as part of the interlocutors’ common ground.


Scrambling Object shift Proforms Clausal antecedents Common ground German Norwegian 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



  1. Anderssen, Merete and Kristine Bentzen. 2011. Scandinavian object shift reanalyzed as TP-internal topicalization. Paper presented at the Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop (CGSW) 26, Amsterdam, June 2011.Google Scholar
  2. Anderssen, Merete and Kristine Bentzen. 2012. Norwegian object shift as IP-internal topicalization. Nordlyd: 39(1), The Grammar of Objects. 1–23.Google Scholar
  3. Andréasson, Maia. 2008. Not all objects are born alike—Accessibility as a key to pronominal object shift in Swedish and Danish. In Proceedings of the LFG08 conference, eds. Miriam Butt & Tracy Halloway King, 26–45. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Andréasson, Maia. 2009. Pronominal object shift—Not just a matter of shifting or not. Working Papers in Scandinavian Syntax 84: 1–20.Google Scholar
  5. Andréasson, Maia. 2010. Object shift or object placement in general. In Proceedings of the LFG10 conference, eds. Miriam Butt & Tracy Halloway King, 26–42. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  6. Bentzen, Kristine. 2013. Object shift. Nordic Atlas of Linguistic Structures (NALS).
  7. Bentzen, Kristine & Merete Anderssen. 2012. Norwegian object shift: The role of reference and topichood. Paper presented at the Workshop on Scandinavian Object Shift, University of Göteborg, March 2012.Google Scholar
  8. Bentzen, Kristine, Merete Anderssen, and Christian Waldmann. 2013a. Object shift in spoken Mainland Scandinavian: A corpus study of Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. Nordic Journal of Linguistics 36 (2): 115–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bentzen, Kristine, Jason Merchant, and Peter Svenonius. 2013b. Deep properties of surface pronouns: Pronominal predicate anaphors in Norwegian and German. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 16 (2–3): 97–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Corver, Norbert, and Henk van Riemsdijk. 1994. Studies on scrambling. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Delfitto, Denis, and Norbert Corver. 1998. Feature primitives and the syntax of specificity. Rivista di Linguistica 10 (2): 281–334.Google Scholar
  12. Diesing, Molly. 1992. Indefinites. Linguistic inquiry monographs. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Diesing, Molly, and Eloise Jelinek. 1995. Distributing arguments. Natural Language Semantics 3: 123–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Erteschik-Shir, Nomi. 2005. Sound patterns of syntax: Object shift. Theoretical Linguistics 31 (1/2): 47–93.Google Scholar
  15. Fox, Danny, and David Pesetsky. 2005. Cyclic linearization of syntactic structure. Theoretical Linguistics 31 (1/2): 1–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Frascarelli, Mara, and Roland Hinterhölzl. 2007. Types of topics in German and Italian. In On information structure, meaning and form, ed. Susanne Winkler and Kerstin Schwabe, 87–116. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Frey, Werner, André Meinunger, and Kerstin Schwabe (eds.). 2016. Inner-sentential propositional proforms: Syntactic properties and interpretative effects. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  18. Givón, Thomas. 1983. Topic continuity in discourse: An introduction. In Topic continuity in discourse: A quantitative cross-language study, ed. Thomas Givón, 5–41. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grewendorf, Günther, and Wolfgang Sternefeld. 1990. Scrambling and barriers. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gundel, Jeanette, Michael Hegarty, and Kaja Borthen. 2003. Cognitive status, information structure, and pronominal reference to clausally introduced entities. Journal of Logic, Language and Information 12: 281–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Haider, Hubert. 2006. Mittelfeld phenomena. In The Blackwell companion to syntax, vol. 3, ed. Martin Everaert and Henk van Riemsdijk, 204–274. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Haider, Hubert & Inger Rosengren. 1998. Scrambling. Sprache & Pragmatik 49. Germanistisches Institut der Universität Lund.Google Scholar
  23. Hellan, Lars, and Christer Platzack. 1995. Pronouns in Scandinavian languages: An overview. Working Papers in Scandinavian Syntax 56: 47–69.Google Scholar
  24. Hinterhölzl, Roland. 2004. Scrambling, optionality and non-lexical triggers. In Triggers, ed. Anne Breitbarth and Henk van Riemsdijk, 173–203. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hinterhölzl, Roland. 2012. Some notes on scrambling and object shift. In Discourse and grammar: A festschrift in honour of Valeria Molnar, ed. Johan Brandler, David Håkansson, Stefan Huber, and Eva Klingvall, 305–321. Lund: Center for Languages and Literature, Lund University.Google Scholar
  26. Holmberg, Anders. 1986. Word order and syntactic features in the Scandinavian languages and English. PhD dissertation, University of Stockholm.Google Scholar
  27. Holmberg, Anders. 1999. Remarks on Holmberg’s generalization. Studia Linguistica 53 (1): 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Holmberg, Anders, and Christer Platzack. 1995. The role of inflection in Scandinavian syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hooper, Joan, and Sandra Thompson. 1973. On the applicability of root transformations. Linguistic Inquiry 4: 465–497.Google Scholar
  30. Johannessen, Janne Bondi, Joel Priestley, Kristin Hagen, Tor Anders Åfarli & Øystein Alexander Vangsnes. 2009. The Nordic Dialect Corpus—An advanced research tool. In Proceedings of the 17th Nordic conference of computational linguistics NODALIDA 2009. NEALT Proceedings Series Volume 4, eds. Kristiina Jokinen & Eckhard Bick.Google Scholar
  31. Josefsson, Gunlög. 2003. Four myths of object shift … and the truth. In Grammar in focus. Festchrift for Christer Platzack, November 18, 2003, vol. II, ed. Lars-Olof Delsing, Cecilia Falk, Gunlög Josefsson, and Halldór Sigurðsson, 199–207. Lund: Department of Scandinavian Languages, Lund University.Google Scholar
  32. Josefsson, Gunlög. 2010. Object Shift and optionality: An intricate interplay between syntax, prosody and information structure. Working Papers in Scandinavian Syntax 86: 1–24.Google Scholar
  33. Josefsson, Gunlög. 2011. Deconstructing object shift. Talk presented at The VAMOS workshop: Objects—Information Structure, Prosody and Acquisition, April 4–6 2011, University of Tromsø.Google Scholar
  34. Josefsson, Gunlög. 2012. Deconstructing (pronominal) object shift. Talk presented at the Workshop on Scandinavian Object Shift, March 2012, University of Gothenburg.Google Scholar
  35. Kamio, Akio, and Margaret Thomas. 1999. Some referential properties of English it and that. In Function and structure, ed. Akio Kamio and Ken-Ichi Takami. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Krifka, Manfred, and Renate Musan. 2012. Information structure: Overview and linguistic issues. In The expression of information structure, ed. Manfred Krifka and Renate Musan. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lødrup, Helge. 2012. Some Norwegian ‘type anaphora’ are surface anaphora. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 24 (1): 23–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Matić, Dejan, Rik van Gijn & Robert D. Van Valin, Jr. 2014. Information structure and reference tracking in complex sentences: an overview. In Information structure and reference tracking in complex sentences, eds. Rik van Gijn, Jeremy Hammond, Dejan Matić, Saskia van Putten & Ana Vilacy Galucio, 1–41. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  39. Mikkelsen, Line. 2011. On prosody and focus in Object Shift. Syntax 14 (3): 230–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pütz, Herbert. 1986. über die Syntax der Pronominalform <es> im modernen Deutsch. Tübingen: Narr.Google Scholar
  41. Reinhart, Tanya. 1981. Pragmatics and linguistics: An analysis of sentence topics. Philosophica 27: 53–94.Google Scholar
  42. Richards, Marc. 2006. Object shift, phases, and transitive expletive constructions in Germanic. Linguistic variation yearbook, vol. 6, 139–159. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  43. Schwabe, Kerstin, Werner Frey, and André Meinunger. 2016. Sentential proforms: An overview. In Inner-sentential propositional proforms: Syntactic properties and interpretative effects, ed. Werner Frey, André Meinunger, and Kerstin Schwabe, 1–21. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  44. Stalnacker, Robert. 2002. Common ground. Linguistics and Philosophy 25 (5–6): 701–721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Strawson, Peter. 1963. Identifying reference and truth values. Theoria 30: 96–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sudhoff, Stefan. 2003. Argumentsätze und es-Korrelate. Zur syntaktischen Struktur von Nebensatzeinbettungen im Deutschen. Berlin: WVB.Google Scholar
  47. Sudhoff, Stefan. 2016. Correlates of object clauses in German and Dutch. In Inner-sentential propositional proforms: Syntactic properties and interpretative effects, ed. Werner Frey, André Meinunger, and Kerstin Schwabe, 23–48. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Thráinsson, Höskuldur. 2001. Object shift and scrambling. In The handbook of contemporary syntactic theory, ed. Mark Baltin and Chris Collins, 148–202. Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Vikner, Sten. 1994. Scandinavian object shift and West Germanic scrambling. In Studies on scrambling, ed. Norbert Corver and Henk van Riemsdijk, 487–517. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  50. Vikner, Sten. 2006. Object Shift. In The Blackwell companion to syntax, vol. III, ed. Martin Everaert and Henk van Riemsdijk, 392–436. Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Language and Culture, Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and EducationUiT-The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway

Personalised recommendations