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Subject extractions in Scandinavian languages


  • Michelle Hammarstrand

Summary, in Swedish

This thesis studies how subject extractions are accepted in Scandinavian (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Fenno-Swedish) through an extensive acceptability judgment study. The results from the study were compared with previous research and analyzed against accounts on why subject extraction constraints occur and why the acceptance of subject extractions in Scandinavian vasty varies. The subject extractions studied were non wh-subject extractions over a deleted att-complementizer, an overt att-complementizer, the complementizer om and various wh-elements (simplex and complex), with and without resumptive pronouns. The results showed that the Swedish informants accepted all subject extractions under the condition that a resumptive pronoun was inserted in the gap. The Fenno-Swedish informants showed the same pattern except for subject extractions over an overt att, where a subject gap was preferred. Subject extractions over an overt att were also accepted by the Norwegian informants and subject extractions over om were accepted by the Norwegian and Danish informants. Norwegian and Danish informants also accepted subject extractions over wh-elements where simplex wh-elements were accepted to a greater extent than complex wh-elements. Informants who accepted subject extractions over complex wh-elements most likely also accepted subject extractions over simplex wh-elements. Resumptive pronouns were rejected by both Norwegian and Danish informants and subject extractions over a deleted att were accepted by all varieties. The results from the study aligned well with previous indications and also contributed with new data on resumption in connection with Fenno-Swedish. Previous accounts as to why the acceptability of various subject extractions varies in Scandinavian have been either a presence or absence of nominal features in the complementizer (Platzack 1993) or variation in the position of the complementizer (Lohndal 2007). The results from the study were analyzed against these accounts which were judged to insufficiently explain the variation found. A previous account by McFadden and Sundaresan (2018), relating subject extractions to intonational phrases, was subsequently revaluated and analyzed against the results and was later also judged to insufficiently explain the variation. Possible future accounts must take into account the variation found for subject extractions over att, om and wh-elements as well as take into account the role of resumption.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Scandinavian
  • syntax
  • that-trace effect
  • subject extractions
  • acceptability judgment task
  • generative grammar


  • Marit Julien (Professor)