Jóhanna Barðdal. 2013. Icelandic. In: Hartmann, Iren & Haspelmath, Martin & Taylor, Bradley (eds.) Valency Patterns Leipzig. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. (Available online at http://valpal.info/contributions/icel1247, Accessed on 2023-06-07.)
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.
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" acc.sg., "manni" dat.sg, vs. "manninn" acc.sg.def and "manninum" dat.sg.def.
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.
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).
Jóhanna Barðdal is a native speaker linguist.
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