Advanced

Pancake sentences and the semanticization of formal gender in Mainland Scandinavian

Josefsson, Gunlög LU (2014) In Language Sciences 43. p.62-76
Abstract
This paper focuses on two phenomena, a semanticization of the gender system that started in West Jutland, the southwestern part of Denmark, and so-called “pancake sentences” in Mainland Scandinavian (primarily Danish and Swedish).

In West Jutlandic, substance-denoting nouns (as well as event nouns) are obligatorily constructed with a prenominal neuter element, primarily det, for example det mælk (N milk) ‘milk’. I argue that det in this use is a classifier, and that it lacks a number feature.

Pancake sentences are sentences where a predicative adjective displays agreement in the neuter, even if there is no overt source for such agreement. Somewhat simplified, the interpretation of the subject of pancake sentences is... (More)
This paper focuses on two phenomena, a semanticization of the gender system that started in West Jutland, the southwestern part of Denmark, and so-called “pancake sentences” in Mainland Scandinavian (primarily Danish and Swedish).

In West Jutlandic, substance-denoting nouns (as well as event nouns) are obligatorily constructed with a prenominal neuter element, primarily det, for example det mælk (N milk) ‘milk’. I argue that det in this use is a classifier, and that it lacks a number feature.

Pancake sentences are sentences where a predicative adjective displays agreement in the neuter, even if there is no overt source for such agreement. Somewhat simplified, the interpretation of the subject of pancake sentences is either that of a substance or that of an event. The main point of my article is that the subject of pancake sentences is headed by a null neuter classifier, in all relevant aspects corresponding to the overt classifier det, as in det mælk in West Jutlandic. In other words, it lacks a number feature too. A consequence of the proposal is that there is no disagreement in pancake sentences.

From a diachronic perspective I argue that the appearance of pancake sentences is a part of a global, ongoing transition of the gender system in Mainland Scandinavian, and that the origin of this process is the semanticization of gender in West Jutlandic. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
pancake sentences, gender, neuter, West Jutlandic, classifier
in
Language Sciences
volume
43
pages
62 - 76
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • wos:000336470200005
  • scopus:84899621460
ISSN
0388-0001
DOI
10.1016/j.langsci.2013.10.009
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
47491066-36e9-4b05-9e78-c7ed90f67af5 (old id 4194193)
date added to LUP
2013-12-16 14:49:40
date last changed
2017-01-01 05:19:55
@article{47491066-36e9-4b05-9e78-c7ed90f67af5,
  abstract     = {This paper focuses on two phenomena, a semanticization of the gender system that started in West Jutland, the southwestern part of Denmark, and so-called “pancake sentences” in Mainland Scandinavian (primarily Danish and Swedish). <br/><br>
In West Jutlandic, substance-denoting nouns (as well as event nouns) are obligatorily constructed with a prenominal neuter element, primarily det, for example det mælk (N milk) ‘milk’. I argue that det in this use is a classifier, and that it lacks a number feature. <br/><br>
Pancake sentences are sentences where a predicative adjective displays agreement in the neuter, even if there is no overt source for such agreement. Somewhat simplified, the interpretation of the subject of pancake sentences is either that of a substance or that of an event. The main point of my article is that the subject of pancake sentences is headed by a null neuter classifier, in all relevant aspects corresponding to the overt classifier det, as in det mælk in West Jutlandic. In other words, it lacks a number feature too. A consequence of the proposal is that there is no disagreement in pancake sentences.<br/><br>
From a diachronic perspective I argue that the appearance of pancake sentences is a part of a global, ongoing transition of the gender system in Mainland Scandinavian, and that the origin of this process is the semanticization of gender in West Jutlandic.},
  author       = {Josefsson, Gunlög},
  issn         = {0388-0001},
  keyword      = {pancake sentences,gender,neuter,West Jutlandic,classifier},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {62--76},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Language Sciences},
  title        = {Pancake sentences and the semanticization of formal gender in Mainland Scandinavian},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2013.10.009},
  volume       = {43},
  year         = {2014},
}