Talk: Exploring apparent V2-violations in Norwegian

In this talk, I investigate apparent V2-violations in Norwegian, a North-Germanic V2 language. Examples of this phenomenon arise when the finite verb, which is assumed to have moved to the C-domain (Vikner and Schwartz 1996), and the pre-V2 constituent, are intervened. The intervening words are often adverbs, particularly so in subject-initial main clauses, as the example in (1) highlights. This results in unexpected V3 (or even V4) instances.

(1) Jeg bare lure-r på en liten ting. (Norwegian)
I just wonder-PRES on a small thing.
I am just wondering/I just wonder about a small something.’ (NoWaC SID 26597)

I used the NoWaC corpus to investigate adverb occurrences in apparent V2-violating contexts, ascertaining not only which adverbs arise, but also revealing that bare (‘just’) appears 5657 times. This accounts for 79% of all adverbs occurring between the pre-V2 constituent and the V2-verb. Furthermore I use the English-Norwegian translation corpus OMC (Oslo Multilingual Corpus) to explore the semantics of bare in these contexts, and I argue that they come about due to disambiguation (in conjunction with focus patterns).

In light of the data, the status of the left-field in Scandinavian and German is considered. Of particular relevance is the fact that nur (‘only’), a German equivalent for bare, cannot occur in these same contexts in subject-initial main clauses. I consider three syntactic approaches to modelling apparent V2-violations; external merge into the C-domain (Julien 2015:150-151), adverbial head-adjunction to the finite verb (Brandtler and Håkansson 2017:17), and phrasal movement approaches (Nilsen 2003:92, Lundquist 2018). I conclude that a phrasal movement approach containing the finite verb seems most appealing when modelling apparent V2-violations in Norwegian.


Brandtler, Johan, and David Håkansson. 2017. V2 eller V3? Om preverbal placering av adverbial i svenskan. Norsk Lingvistisk Tidsskrift 35:11–26.

Julien, Marit. 2015. The force of V2 revisited. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 18:139–181.

Lundquist, 2018. Mer om de preverbala adverbialens syntax, semantik och prosodi. Norsk Lingvistisk Tidskrift 36:179-195.

Nilsen, Øystein. 2003. Eliminating positions: Syntax and semantics of sentence modification. Doctoral dissertation, Utrecht University.

NoWaC (Norwegian Web as Corpus).

Vikner, Sten, and Bonnie Schwartz. 1996. The verb always leaves IP in V2 clauses. In Parameters and functional heads, ed. by Adriana Belletti and Luigi Rizzi, 11–62. Oxford: Oxford University Press.