Oslo Studies in Language (Jan 2021)

VO-OV-variasjon i nordsamisk: Hva kan LIA Sápmi fortelle oss?

  • Kristine Bentzen

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 2


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In this paper I investigate the alternation between VO and OV word order in spoken North Sami, based on data from LIA Sápmi – Sámegiela hállangiellakorpus. My results show that VO in general is the most frequent word order. However, I also find many instances of SAuxOV order in my material, particularly in sentences with periphrastic verb forms where the main verb is in the infinitive (that is, modal constructions) and where the object is a pronoun. In addition, I also find some cases where the object precedes both the auxiliary and the main verb, but crucially without being topicalized to clause-initial position. Based on the account of Norwegian Object Shift in Bentzen and Anderssen (2019), I suggest that OV word order in North Sami may be analyzed as IP-internal topicalization, where objects that are familiar in the context may move to a thematic position between VP and TP. This will account for the OV pattern with periphrastic tense forms. Furthermore, I suggest that there is an additional higher IP-internal topic position, and that object movement to this position is what results in OV with finite main verbs. This higher IP-internal topic position is also the position involved in patterns where the object precedes both the finite auxiliary and the main verb.