Adverbial clauses in English and Norwegian

Hilde Hasselgård, ILOS

I will present an investigation of the position and the information structure of adverbial clauses in relation to their matrix clauses in English and Norwegian. The study focuses on two genres, fiction and news reportage, and is primarily based on original text in both languages. Translations in the ENPC have been consulted where English and Norwegian originals differ markedly. The adverbial clauses are annotated for their syntactic and semantic type (finite vs. non-finite; time, contingency, manner, etc.), position (Initial, Medial, End) and information structure. The following hypotheses are tested:

  • The languages will have different positional preferences: Norwegian will use initial position more often than English (Diessel 2001, Hasselgård 2014a & b).
  • News will have a greater proportion of its adverbial clauses in initial position than fiction (Hasselgård 2014a).
  • Different syntactic and semantic types of clauses may have different positional preferences, and the preferences may vary between languages and genres.
  • Adverbial clauses containing given information are more likely to be sentence-initial; those containing new information are more likely to be sentence-final (Ford 1993, Ford & Thompson 1986).
  • Text strategies, especially ‘experiential iconicity’ (Enkvist 1981) and thematic structure (Fries 2004) are also likely to determine the order.


The British part of the International Corpus of English (ICE-GB)

The English-Norwegian Parallel Corpus (ENPC)

A collection of news articles from Norwegian online newspapers



Altenberg, Bengt. 1987. Causal ordering strategies in English conversation. In Monaghan, J. (ed.) Grammar in the Construction of Texts. London: Francis Pinter, 50-64.

Diessel, Holger. 2001. The ordering distribution of main and adverbial clauses: A typological study. Language, 77:2, 433-55.

Enkvist, Nils Erik. 1981. Experiential iconicism in text strategy. Text, 1 (1), 97-111.

Ford, Cecilia E. 1993. Grammar in Interaction. Adverbial clauses in American English conversations. Cambridge University Press.

Fries, P.H. 2004. A personal view of Theme. In M. Ghadessy (ed.) Thematic Development in English Texts. London and New York: Pinter, 1-19.

Hasselgård, Hilde. 2010. Adjunct Adverbials in English. Cambridge University Press.

Hasselgård, Hilde. 2014a. Discourse-structuring functions of initial adverbials in English and Norwegian news and fiction. In M.-A. Lefer & S. Vogeleer (eds), Genre- and register-related discourse features in contrast, Special issue of Languages in Contrast 14.1, 73-92.

Hasselgård, Hilde. 2014b. Conditional clauses in English and Norwegian. In H.P. Helland & C.M. Salvesen (eds) Affaire(s) de Grammaire. Oslo: Novus, 183-200.

Publisert 9. apr. 2015 09:46 - Sist endret 9. apr. 2015 09:46