Icelandic isl Wals

Family Indo-European
Region Europe (and Indo-European)



Jóhanna Barðdal

Department of Linguistics, Ghent University

with data contributions by 1 native speaker
19 References

How to cite the Icelandic dataset  BibTeX

Barðdal, Jóhanna. 2013. Icelandic Valency Patterns.
In: Hartmann, Iren & Haspelmath, Martin & Taylor, Bradley (eds.) 2013.
Valency Patterns Leipzig.
Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
(Available online at, Accessed on 2017-07-27)


112 Verb forms 45 Coding frames 28 Alternations (100.0% avail.) 367 glossed Examples


General comment

Icelandic is one of the most archaic modern Germanic languages. It has maintained most of the morphological distinctions from Old Icelandic, most of the paradigmatic distinctions and a huge proportion of the vocabulary. Some phonological changes have occurred, and some word order and constructional patterns have fallen into disuse. Icelanders of today can read Old Icelandic without problems.

Characterization of flagging resources

Icelandic has four cases, nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. These are marked on nouns, pronouns, all adjectival elements and the definite article. The definite artice is cliticized on nouns, after inflectional morphemes, which in turn means that definite nouns in Icelandic have double case marking. Example: "mann", "manni", vs. "manninn" and "manninum"

Characterization of indexing resources

There is nominative agreement in Icelandic which means that if the subject is in the nominative case, the verb agrees with the subject, if the object is in the nominative case, the verb agrees with the object. In essence this means that Icelandic does not have subject-verb agreement but nominative-verb agreement.

Characterization of ordering resources

Icelandic is a V2 language with a relatively fixed SVO word order in both main and subordinate clauses. It does not allow scrambling like German and topicalizations are very rare in the spoken language. It has subject–verb inversion, it has V1 structures, like the socalled "Narrative Inversion", it has object shift, i.e. the rerversal of the order between an object and a sentence adverb, and it has "stylistic fronting", i.e. the preposing of a particle or an adverb in subjectless subordinate clauses (cf. Þráinsson 2007).

Source of the data and generalizations/background of the contributor(s)

Jóhanna Barðdal is a native speaker linguist.