Research seminar: Adverbial Infinitives in the History of Swedish
Date: Thursday 28 April 2022
Time: 15.00 – 16.30
Location: C307, Zoom
Welcome to a research seminar in linguistics with Dr Mikael Kalm from the Department of Swedish Lanugage and Multilingualism.
The seminar is followed by a post-seminar in the department’s kitchenette
Adverbial Infinitives in the History of Swedish
In this seminar, I will present an investigation of adverbial infinitives in the history of Swedish. By adverbial infinitive, I mean a prepositional infinitive clause used as an adverbial adjunct. Such constructions are commonly used in present-day Swedish to express a range of adverbial notions, including purposive (1a), abessive (1b), substitutive (1c) temporal (1d), and instrumental (1e) meanings.
a. Han gick ut för att få sig lite luft.
he went out for IM get.INF REFL some air
‘He went out to get some air’
b. Hon sålde företaget utan att fråga de anställda.
she sold company.DEF without IM ask.INF ART employee.PL
‘She sold the company without asking the employees.’
c. Jag satt hemma istället för att gå ut.
I sat home instead for IM go.INF out
‘I stayed home instead of going out.’
d. Hon läste medicin efter att ha kommit tillbaka från Berlin.
she read medicine after IM have.INF come.SUP back from Berlin
‘She studied medicine after having returned from Berlin.’
e. Han gjorde sig oumbärlig genom att alltid vara steget före.
he made REFL indispensable through IM always be.INF step.DEF before
‘He made himself indispensable by always being one step ahead’
Only the purposive infinitive is attested in Old Swedish (c. 1225–1526), but as opposed to its present-day Swedish counterpart it was normally not prepositional. Prepositional adverbial infinitives thus represent a syntactic innovation in Swedish, attested from the second half of the 17th century onwards. It is a gradual process whereby more adverbial notions are being expressed with prepositional infinitives over time. Abessive and substitutive infinitives are attested first (1657 and 1675 respectively) and they are later followed by temporal infinitives (1779) and finally instrumental infinitives (1829). During the seminar, I will discuss whether this relative order of appearance follows some more general, cross-linguistic pattern as to how adverbial (non-finite) constructions evolve in languages.
Furthermore, I will argue that the emergence of adverbial infinitives should likely be seen as a result of the increasing importance and consequent demands of precision of the written language and as part of the establishing of a written norm, separate from the spoken language. This assumption is supported by data from the traditional dialect of Övdalian, where adverbial infinitives are not used.
Last updated: April 19, 2022
Source: Department of Linguistics