PhD Projects

Anastasia Kobzeva

Working title: Computational modeling of filler-gap acquisition in Norwegian
Supervisors: Dave Kush, Tal Linzen
Brief description: This project aims to advance our knowledge about the origins of constraints on filler-gap dependencies also known as island constraints. It investigates whether various computational learning models can induce these constraints from naturalistic language samples in Norwegian – a language that violates some cross-linguistically attested generalizations when it comes to islands. The goal is to shed light on the types of learning biases that a learner needs in order to acquire the attested patterns.

Ingrid Bondevik

Working title: Understanding unexpected variation in syntactic constraints – a case study of adjunct islands in Norwegian
Supervisors: Terje LohndalDave Kush
Brief description: Adjunct islands have long been claimed to be universal syntactic constraints on filler gap dependency formation. However, unexpected variation has been uncovered between languages, between dependency types and, perhaps most surprisingly, between different adjunct clauses. This project investigates the adjunct island constraint in Norwegian looking at different adjunct clause types in different dependencies, specifically looking at om ‘if’, når ‘when’ and fordi ‘because’ in a topicalization-dependency and a relative-clause dependency. The goal is to map the range of the variation and to provide some understanding of the origins of the variation.

Charlotte Sant

Working title: Adjectival modification in the syntax-semantics interface
Supervisors: Gillian Ramchand, Antonio Fábregas
Brief description: The goal of this project is to investigate the semantics of adjectives, specifically the subcategory that has some event-modificational properties, such as frequency adjectives (e.g. weekly, frequent, occasional) and evaluative adjectives (e.g. good, fast, beautiful). These adjectives are interesting because they present a mismatch between syntactic hierarchy and semantic interpretation: in the syntax they modify nouns, but in the semantics they can modify an event. There is much cross-linguistic variation in the licensing of this kind of modification, and English seems exceptionally flexible in its usage of event-modificational adjectives, making it a good point of comparison to languages that are not as flexible, such as Norwegian (compare a fast runner to ein rask springar).

Sigríður Björnsdóttir

Working title: Grammatical gender in Icelandic and Norwegian: a view from learnability and diachrony
Supervisors: Marit Westergaard, Terje Lohndal
Brief description: The goal of this project is to investigate how regularization processes rooted in language acquisition may account for how gender systems may change over time, using Icelandic and Norwegian as case studies. These are two languages that originated from a common source, Old Norse, yet have over time developed differently with respect to grammatical gender. Icelandic has retained a 3-gender system from Old Norse that distinguishes between Masculine, Feminine and Neuter. Many dialects of Norwegian, however, have developed a 2-gender system that distinguishes between Common gender and Neuter. This project seeks to answer how the seemingly systematic changes to grammatical gender in Norwegian dialects have taken  place by accounting for the learning mechanisms that are responsible for grammatical gender acquisition.​​

Kristin Klubbo Brodahl

Working title: The syntax and semantics of German participle constructions
Supervisors: Inghild Flaate Høyem, Terje Lohndal
Brief description: With their clause-like and yet underspecified structure and meaning, adjuncts headed by a participle constitute an interesting linguistic phenomenon. The project aims to develop an analysis of the syntax and semantics of German participle constructions in comparison with equivalent constructions in English

Linda Evenstad Emilsen

Working title: Gender in Norwegian L2
Supervisors: Kristin Melum Eide, Gisela Håkansson
Brief description: The Norwegian gender system is subject to a great deal of variation both across different spoken and written varieties, and recent studies also show that the system seems to be changing. This means that L2 speakers of Norwegian (may) meet a lot of variation in their input. The aim of this project is to investigate how L2 speakers acquire this moving target.

Anna Giskes

Working Title: Parsing mechanisms for antecedent retrieval during on-line sentence processing
Supervisors: Dave Kush
Brief description: This project investigates whether, and to what extent, non-syntactic cues are utilized during the very first parsing of linguistic input in real-time. More specifically, it aims at researching the mechanisms that find and retrieve the antecedents for anaphora from memory during on-line sentence processing.

Isabel N. Jensen

Working title: Transfer in adult third-language acquisition
Supervisors: Marit Westergaard, Roumyana Slabakova
Brief description: This project investigates how previously acquired linguistic systems affect the development of new linguistic representations in third language (L3) acquisition. Transfer of morphosyntactic properties from the first and second languages is well-documented in the relatively new field of generative L3 acquisition research. However, the sources of transfer are highly debated and there is currently no consensus about how transfer happens in L3 acquisition. The possible models are the following: the systems of the L1 or the L2 can be copied in their entirety (wholesale transfer), or both languages can be active in the minds of the speakers (property-by-property transfer). The purpose of the current study is to contribute to this discussion by investigating morphosyntactic transfer in adult third-language acquisition.

Bror Magnus Strand

Working title: Structure and development of the Norwegian Roleplaying Register in Norwegian Preschoolers
Supervisors: Merete Anderssen Øystein Vangsnes 
Brief description:Norwegian children outside the capital dialect area are known to use something resembling the capital dialect when engaging in roleplay. The aim of this project is to assess Norwegian children’s acquisition and attainment of this register.

Kate Zhakun

Working title: Sonority distance in complex onsets: sonority plateau and sonority reversal.
Supervisors: Martin Krämer, Draga Zec
Brief description: The sequencing of segments within a syllable is driven by a number of sonority principles: the Sonority Sequencing Principle (SSP), the Minimum Sonority Distance (MSD), and the Sonority Dispersion Principle (SDP). However, some languages tolerate violations of the mentioned principles. The current project representing a typological analysis of complex onsets that violate the sonority principles aims to find out the driving force of the sonority plateau and sonority reversal.

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