From SOV to SVO

Old Norse Influence on English Constituent Order

  • Freja Bang Lauridsen Aarhus University
Keywords: English syntax, constituent order, language contact, Old Norse, Bachelor's project: Types of Language Variation in English

Abstract

The change in constituent order in English is one of the most thoroughly investigated changes in the history of the English language. Even so, there is still disagreement among scholars as to what caused the change. The aim of this article is to argue that it was the influence of the Scandinavians and their language, Old Norse, that caused English to abandon the SOV constituent order and instead adopt SVO constituent order. Because of the intense language contact between the two cultures, several linguistic features of Old Norse found their way into the English language. Numerous morphological features were borrowed from Old Norse, but especially the adoption of syntactic features such as stylistic fronting and CP-V2 suggests that Old Norse influence was strong enough to affect the basic syntax of English and thus strong enough to have initiated the change in English constituent order.

Published
2020-03-13
How to Cite
Lauridsen, F. (2020). From SOV to SVO. Leviathan: Interdisciplinary Journal in English, (6), 22-48. https://doi.org/10.7146/lev.v0i6.118859
Section
Articles