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Possessor licensing, definiteness and case in Scandinavian

  • Marcel den Dikken
  • Christina Tortora
Publiceringsår: 2005
Språk: Engelska
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: The function of function words and functional categories
Dokumenttyp: Del av eller Kapitel i bok
Förlag: John Benjamins Publishing Company


There are many ways to realise a DP-internal possessor in Scandinavian. In some varieties, such as Standard Swedish and Standard Danish, all DP-internal possessors are prenominal. In other varieties, such as Faroese, Icelandic, and Norwegian, possessors can be either prenominal or postnominal. In the case of a pronominal possessor, prenominal position has to do with focus in these varieties. The same is true for nonpronominal possessors in Icelandic. In Faroese and Norwegian, on the other hand, the position of a nonpronominal possessor is a consequence of the way it is licensed.

One of the goals of this paper is to demonstrate that all the different possessive constructions found in Scandinavian can be derived from the same basic configuration, such that surface variation results from movements that take place for licensing or for other reasons. Another main point is that possessors make their containing DPs definite in Scandinavian, except in conservative Icelandic. I will argue that the definiteness of possessed DPs is a consequence of an agreement relation that is established between the possessor and the functional domain of the possessed DP. In the case of a pronominal possessor we will also see that even though it agrees with the possessee, its case is not licensed by the possessee. Hence, it appears that despite claims to the contrary, structural case is not a reflex of agreement.


  • Languages and Literature
  • nominal phrases
  • Possessors
  • Scandinavian
  • definiteness


  • GRIMM-lup-obsolete
  • ISBN: 90-272-2802-7

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