-ER from case marker to marker of subjective evalution in Danish

  • Eva Skafte Jensen (Foredragsholder)

    Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentationForedrag og mundtlige bidrag


    In certain varieties of 20th century Danish, it was not unusual to come by subjective evaluations such as 'en grimmer mand' (an uglyER man); 'en slemmer karl' (a badER guy) etc. in colloquial speech. The suffix -ER on the adjective is a relic dating back to the time when Danish was a language of morphological case in nouns, adjectives and pronouns (the Germanic version with the 4 cases NADG). As in other Germanic languages, the -(E)R denoted the nom. masc. in the sing. in the strong declensions of adjectives and nouns.

    The morphological case system of Old Danish, however, was by and and large dismantled by the 16th century, so how could the old nominative suffix survive for another 500 years? And how could the old case suffix become a subjective evaluation marker? We find the answers to these questions in certain developments in Early Middle Danish. In manuscripts from the 14th century, an interesting distributional pattern concerning the nominative and the accusative can be observed, whereby the nominative has an added textual function signalling foreground information, whereas the accusative is the case to use by default (Jensen 2003; ms.). Regarding the nominative, the new function gives rise to several further developments, finally resulting in the subjective evalution marker mentioned above. In this paper, I'll give an outline of these developments. The outline involves several factors such as word class, syntactic function, gender, and text function.

    Jensen, Eva Skafte (ms). Nominativ i gammelskånsk, afvikling og udviklinger. 385p.
    Jensen, Eva Skafte (2003). Case in Middle Danish. A double content system. In: Blake & Burridge (eds.): Historical Linguistics 2001. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins, 221-36.
    Periode25 jul. 2011
    Begivenhedstitel20th International Conference on Historical Linguistics
    PlaceringOsaka, JapanVis på kort