New methodologies in the Nordic Syntax Database: Word order variation in Norwegian wh-questions

  • Maud Westendorp Centre for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics (CASTL), UiT The Arctic University of Norway


Across Norwegian dialects, wh-questions show variation concerning word order possibilities, with many dialects allowing non-V2 word order. The acceptance of this order differs across dialects and depends on the complexity and function of the wh-element. This study examines data from 409 informants across 105 sites in the Nordic Syntax Database (NSD). Throughout the study, new methodologies are used in an attempt to overcome some of the limitations of the NSD-map building tool as well as present new insights from a more detailed assessment of the acceptability judgements. Analysis of the frequency of these acceptability judgements on four test items showed that four grammars could be distinguished: those that allow either only V2 word order; non-V2 word order across all wh-questions; non-V2 in all but long non-subject wh-questions; or non-V2 only with short whs. An apparent-time study of the data supports a diachronic connection between some but not all of the varieties.