Wednesday Seminar: Dialect syntax in Scandinavia and America: Research infrastructure and research results

Janne Bondi Johannessen, professor at MultiLing and Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies, University of Oslo, will give a talk on infrastructure for dialect syntax research and on the heritage speakers of Scandinavian languages who moved to North America in 1825–1925.

Janne Bondi Johannessen

Janne Bondi Johannessen (Photo: Nadia Frantsen / UiO)

The lecture is free and open to everyone. Welcome!


Dialect syntax has been the focus of much research in the Nordic countries over the last years. Common, cross-linguistic projects have resulted in lasting web-based research infrastructures, such as the Nordic Dialect Corpus (Johannessen et al. 2009), the Nordic Syntax Database (Lindstad et al. 2009), and the Corpus of Nordic American Speech (CANS). The corpora were created in order to obtain naturalistic, spontaneous speech, which meant that the interviews had to be performed in a careful way towards this goal. But gathering data is not always easy, and I will show examples where we sometimes failed, and why. The Nordic Syntax Database contains sentence evaluations by many of the same people as those in the database. The sentences were carefully selected to obtain syntactic isoglosses. I will show some results and also discuss some challenges during the development of the database. I will briefly demonstrate some results in an open access journal (NALS, Nordic Atlas of Language Structures) with main results. The Nordic countries had a large immigration to North America in 1825-1925. Though the immigrants often settled near people from their own area in Scandinavia, we don’t find the same dialects as at home. The Scandinavian heritage languages have developed away from their homeland language, due to the context in which they are minority languages next to a dominant majority language. I will illustrate this with research on word order conducted by myself and Ida Larsson (Larsson & Johannessen 2015a,b), and discuss how this could be explained in terms of incomplete acquisition.


Ekaterina Kuzmina
Published Apr. 3, 2018 10:29 AM - Last modified June 16, 2020 11:54 AM