Exploring spontaneous-event marking though parallel corpora: Translating English ergative intransitive constructions into Norwegian and Swedish
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2015

English ergative verbs in one-participant constructions such as ‘the door opens’ often correspond to reflexive verbs or -S forms in Norwegian and Swedish. Following Kemmer (1993), such constructions profile spontaneous-event meaning and belong to the middle domain. This study uses corpus methodology to explore spontaneous-event marking in Norwegian and Swedish from the point of view of Kemmer’s suggested two-cycle development path for middle marking in the Scandinavian languages. The results suggest that there are differences in the middle systems in the Scandinavian languages to the effect that Norwegian has completed Kemmer’s two cycles, whereas Swedish has not. Further, there is tentative indication that ergative verbs are on the increase in both Norwegian and Swedish for certain Subjects and in discipline-specific contexts, possibly due to influence from English.


ergative alteration

contrastive linguistics

parallel corpora

ergative verbs

corpus-based approach

spontaneous-event marking

the middle voice


Lene Nordrum

Lunds universitet

Languages in Contrast

1387-6759 (ISSN) 1569-9897 (eISSN)

Vol. 15 2 230-250



Studier av enskilda språk


Lärande och undervisning

Pedagogiskt arbete



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