Research Projects

On this page we describe some ongoing/planned joint UiT/NTNU research projects.

MultiGender: A Multilingual Approach to Grammatical Gender

Time period: 2019-2020.
Funding: Centre for Advanced Study (Oslo).
PIs: Terje Lohndal, Marit Westergaard

Gender: Acquisition and Attrition

Participants: Guro Busterud, Terje Lohndal, Yulia Rodina & Marit Westergaard.
Brief description: The goal of this project is to scrutinize the grammatical category gender based on data from language acquisition, and language change in the domain of attrition. There are at the moment two sub-projects: One focuses on gender assignment and the expression of gender in the heritage language American Norwegian, whereas the other focuses on the acquisition of gender in the Trondheim dialect. The first strand investigates gender assignment to nouns of Norwegian ancestry in American Norwegian and compares it to contemporary Norwegian dialects. In the second strand, the project extends work on the acquisition of gender in the Tromsø dialect to the Trondheim dialect in order to compare whether or not we observe a similar development in both cities.
Output: Article in Frontiers in Psychology on American Norwegian; multiple conference presentations; article in progress.

The L2/Ln Acquisition of Norwegian Subject and Object Shift

Participants: Merete Anderssen, Kristine Bentzen, Guro Busterud, Anne Dahl, Jelena Didriksen , Björn Lundquist & Marit Westergaard.
Brief description: This project focuses on two word order phenomena in Norwegian, involving subjects and objects either preceding or following negation (Det liker ikke han / han ikke ‘that likes he not / not he’ – han liker ikke det / det ikke ‘he likes not it / it not’). The distinctions between the two word orders are subtle, and both phenomena have been found to be delayed in Norwegian L1A, the latter considerably more than the former. The current experimental study tests a high number of adult L2/Ln learners and L1 Norwegian controls, addressing factors such as complexity, frequency and cross-linguistic influence from the learners’ L1.
Output: Masters thesis (Jelena Didriksen); conference presentations (AEAL September 2016, GALANA September 2016, NOA October 2016, BUCLD November 2016); article in progress.

Verb Second (V2)

Participants: Artemis AlexiadouTerje Lohndal, Øystein A. Vangsnes & Marit Westergaard.
Brief description: In this project, we study various aspects of verb second involving Norwegian and Norwegian dialects. In several articles, we have investigated the rich variation across Norwegian dialects when it comes to verb second in interrogative clauses. In ongoing work we are investigating the differences between subject-initial declarative clauses and non-subject-initial clauses drawing on evidence from acquisition, second language learning, and new corpus studies of the heritage language American Norwegian. We are suggesting that the evidence uniformly points in the direction of subject-initial verb second clauses having a different syntactic structure from non-subject-initial verb second clauses. In a different sub-project, we are testing the hypothesis that the distribution of contexts for verb second word order may be severely reduced as a result of language contact with a language which has a different pragmatic structure in declaratives contexts. This, in turn, may prepare the ground for the loss of verb second, addressing fundamental questions concerning grammatical aspects of when and how language change happens.
Output: Linguistic Variation article in press; conference presentations; articles in progress.

Acquisition of embedded word order

Participants: Tina Louise Ringstad, Kristin M. Eide, Marit Westergaard, Kristine Bentzen, Dave Kush
Brief description:This project investigates the acquisition of verb placement in embedded clauses in Norwegian (the Trondheim dialect). The investigation involves a variety of contexts and speakers, and focusses on the word order NEG(ation)-V(erb) vs. V(erb)-NEG(ation) in embedded clauses. The target language allows the word order V-NEG in certain contexts, while NEG-V is the ´default´ embedded word order. Children are, however, found to overuse the order V-NEG. We collect experimental data to address questions such as whether children only overuse this word order within contexts where it is allowed. Furthermore, we also address the complexity and economy in the acquisition of such structures. L1 acquirers of Norwegian and 2L1 speakers of Norwegian and English are studied and compared.
Output: PhD dissertation/articles in progress

Splitting heads: on the cross-linguistic variation of tense, mood and aspect

Participants: Antonio Fábregas & Kristin Melum Eide
Brief description: The goal of this project is to research how language variation is best expressed, and specifically whether – in addition to the variation minimally required in the lexical repertoire – languages have devices that produce variation in the syntactic computation. The empirical phenomenon that we focus on is the interpretation of participles in Spanish vs. Norwegian. Specifically, Norwegian participles can have temporal, aspectual and modal interpretations, while Spanish participles lack the modal reading. We investigate whether this difference can be related to the observable fact that Spanish has distinct inflectional forms for indicative and subjunctive (MOOD) which are integrated in the verbal paradigm, as well as distinct imperfective and perfective forms (ASP) in the past tense inflection (T). The hypothesis we want to pursue in this project is that these two properties are correlated, and specifically that Norwegian bundles syntactic features in one single head that Spanish splits into three (adjacent) heads: Tense, Mood and Aspect.
Output: Two articles in progress.

Adjectival agreement in North Germanic

Participants: Øystein A. Vangsnes, Tor A. Åfarli, & Marie Barstad
Brief description: This project focuses on the agreement properties of adjectives in North Germanic varieties, primarily in Norwegian dialects. More specifically, the project investigates different patterns of agreement found across dialects with respect to three syntactic contexts: 1) predicative position, 2) indefinite attributive position, and 3) definite attributive position. Whereas the Standard North Germanic languages all have a two-way distinction with the same inflectional pattern in 1) and 2) (‘strong inflection’) as opposed to 3) (‘weak inflection’), several non-standard varieties exhibit a three-way distinction with unique patterns for all of the three contexts. The project has both descriptive and theoretical aims.
Output: Masters thesis (Marie Barstad, in progress); Conference presentations (GRAMINO May 2016, CGSW31 December 2016); articles in progress.