Monday, November 23, 2015 - 13:30
Room: 

Strategies for cohesive dialogues in Scandinavian

Abstract:

In many languages, starting a sentence or an utterance with something other than the subject is a marked option which has to be licensed by some discourse function, as in the case of questions (1) or so-called topicalization (2).
(1) What did she say?  (2) That/*it I don’t like. (I’d rather have some …)

In English, topicalized constituents are normally stressed and invoke a notion of contrast; an unstressed personal pronoun is not felicitous, as shown in (2). In the mainland Scandinavian languages, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, preposing of unstressed pronouns is quite common as a way to connect an utterance to the preceding context, as illustrated by the Swedish example in (3).

(3) A: Var är cykeln? [where is bike-DEF] B: Den ställde jag i garaget. [it put I in garage-DEF.]

In order to find out when this type of preposing is used in dialogue, Filippa Lindahl and I carried out a search in the Nordic Dialect Corpus, a 2.5 million word corpus of spontaneous conversations (Johannesen et al 2009). In my talk I will show that the strategies used are in line with the three types of thematic progression, proposed by i.a. Daneš (1974).

References:
Daneš, F. 1974. Functional sentence perspective and the organization of the text. In F. Daneš (ed.), Papers on functional sentence perspective, 106–128. Prague – The Hague & Paris.
Johannessen, J. B. et al. 2009. The Nordic Dialect Corpus – an Advanced Research Tool. In Proceedings of the 17th Nordic Conference of Computational Linguistics NODALIDA 2009. NEALT Proceedings Series Volume 4.

CV: 
After having completed an MA at Uppsala University, I studied linguistics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. It was there that I discovered that Swedish is an interesting language from a general linguistic perspective. My PhD thesis from 1980 dealt with the syntax and semantics of questions in Swedish and was supervised by Barbara Partee. I was post-doctoral fellow in Cognitive Science at Stanford University, research fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for psycho-linguistics at Nijmegen and at Lund University and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and reader at the Centre for Cognitive Science (nowadays part of the School of Informatics) and the Human Communication Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh. In 1995 I came to the University of Gothenburg and in 2004 I became professor of Swedish. I was a member of the Swedish Research Council between 2000 and 2013. In 2008 I was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities and in 2010 to the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Gothenburg. I became honorary doctor at Lund University in 2012.