SYLLABIC WELL-FORMEDNESS IN NORWEGIAN IMPERATIVES
Scandinavian Conference on Linguistics
University of Tromsø, January 10th-12th, 2002.
Curt Rice, University of Tromsø (email@example.com)
Norwegian imperatives generally appear as truncated forms of the infinitive. In this was,
infinitives such as å spise, ‘to eat’, å telle, ‘to count’, and å kaste, ‘to throw’, give rise to
the imperatives spis, tell, and kast. The phonological shape of the infinitive is, however,
relevant for imperative formation. A familiar example of this is that verbs which do not
end with unstressed vowels have imperative forms which are identical to the bare
infinitive: å gå, ‘to walk’, å gi, ‘to give’, and å be, ‘to pray’, simply yield gå, gi, and be.
The truncation and identity cases are unified by stating that the imperative is the stem of
the infinitive (cf. Faarlund, Lie & Vannebo 1997:477).
The focus of this paper is a class of verbs for which the stem ends in a cluster with
rising sonority, presenting the speaker with syllabification challenges. Examples include
å sykle, ‘to bike’, å åpne, ‘to open’, or å våkne, ‘to wake’, which should (but do not)
yield the imperatives sykl, åpn, or våkn. Strategies for producing these forms is a point of
dialectal variation (cf. Kristoffersen 1991).
There are at least five patterns (P1-P5) which are documented. Furthermore,
anticipating an optimality theoretic analysis, there are several plausible but unattested
patterns (P6-P8). These are as in the following table, for the verb å sykle, ‘to bike’.
citation ___/#C ___/#V
P1: sonorant devoicing syk syk syk
P2: intercluster epenthesis syk.k l syk.k l syk.k l
P3: avoidance Ø Ø Ø
P4: avoidance + liaison Ø Ø syk.l#VC.
P5: postcluster epenthesis syk.l syk.l syk.l
*P6: deletion syk syk syk
*P7: deletion + liaison syk syk syk.l#VC.
*P8: metathesis sylk sylk sylk
The analysis of each system and the variation among them will highlight three theoretical
points. First, the OT prediction that typological variation in grammars should be
construed as variation in constraint ranking is illustrated. Second, P3-P4 are analyzed as
cases in which the ‘null parse’ is optimal. Finally, the roll of morphology in dealing with
these imperatives is considered. In particular, I will argue that P5 is not a phonological
strategy, but rather a morphological one, in which the winning candidate is optimal
because of its identity with the infinitive. I.e., I claim that both phonology and
morphology are crucial for analyzing the array of strategies for dealing with these
imperatives. The importance of the unattested strategies will be brought out in the paper.
Faarlund, Jan Terje, Svein Lie & Kjell Ivar Vannebo 1997 Norsk referansegrammatikk. Oslo:
Kristoffersen, Gjert (1991) Aspects of Norwegian syllable structure. Doctoral dissertation, University of