Norwegian Object Shift as IP-internal topicalization

Merete Anderssen, Kristine Bentzen

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Object Shift; Norwegian; topics; information structure


In this paper we discuss the phenomenon of Object Shift in Norwegian, and we show that this operation is more complex and discourse related than what has traditionally been assumed. We argue that Object Shift cannot be accounted for in a purely prosodic approach. Rather, we demonstrate that a common denominator for all objects undergoing Object Shift is that they are topics. We thus propose that Object Shift should be analysed as (IP-internal) topicalization. Furthermore, we discuss in detail the peculiar behaviour of the topical pronominal object det ‘it’ in cases where its referent is not an individuated, gender-agreeing noun, but rather a non-individuated referent, like a full clause, a VP or a type DP. In such cases, this pronoun typically refrains from Object Shift. We discuss the contrast between these types of objects and shifting objects in light of the topic hierarchy presented in Frascarelli & Hinterhölzl (2007) and show that pronominal objects that undergo Object Shift have the characteristics of familiar topics, while det ‘it’ in the nonshifting contexts have the characteristics of aboutness topics. Consequently, we propose that Object Shift only applies to pronominal objects that constitute familiar topics.

Copyright (c) 2012 Merete Anderssen, Kristine Bentzen

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