Forskargruppe i mellomalderfilologi
Forskergruppen presenterer

Working with a Corpus Language. Methodological challenges and a way to overcome those.

Juliane Tiemann will present important issues on her PhD-project "Syntactic variation and Information structure in Old Norwegian."

Konungs skuggsjá


Working with a Corpus Language. Methodological challenges and a way to overcome those.

Juliane Tiemann, PhD-candidate, University of Bergen


In my PhD project, I aim to provide new insights on the mechanisms of syntactic variation in Old Norwegian and to understand the discourse structure used in this language stage. (Relatively) free word order and variation has been a problem in approaches, which assume an universal base and an economy principle (using minimum cognitive energy to formulate utterances). A solution is provided by the idea that word order alternations are regulated by information structural constraints. 

However, the theory of Information structure is mainly developed for the analyses of modern language. There is considerable variation in the information structural strategies across different languages, but they always have a relationship to prosody. Since I will work with Old Norwegian material (Konungs skuggsjá, AM 243 bα fol., the Norwegian main-manuscript), my analysis faces a difficult challenge: the lack of native speakers to consult and the fact that there is only a small amount of evidence on intonation.

The text of Konungs skuggsjá is, however, a particular promising one for this type of analysis. It is a larger coherent text that is formally structured as a dialogue. By imitating oral conversation (even though restricted), this text shows communicative dynamic, providing an outstanding basis for the information structural analysis of Old Norwegian. The speech-format of a dialogue reflects the basic idea of sequential structuring perfectly, that is, that a discourse with the basis of mutual shared knowledge (common ground) develops through a series of (implicit) questions under discussion through the exchange of linguistic utterances. 

In my presentation I will discuss the methodological challenge of working with corpus languages (missing intonational features) and show how I want to overcome this issue in my analysis.





Guests and any interested parties are welcome!