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Title: Word Order in Övdalian
Authors: Garbacz, Piotr
Keywords: Indo-European Languages
Germanic Languages
Swedish Language
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Lund University
Abstract: Övdalian is a Scandinavian variety that differs considerably both from neighbouring dialects as well as from its closest standard relatives, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish.1 Nevertheless, Övdalian is still rather understudied and relatively unknown to the international linguistic community. One of the main aims of this dissertation therefore is to present Övdalian to a broader linguistic public outside Sweden and the Scandinavian countries, while at the same time discussing a number of interesting syntactic phenomena present in this variety. Modern linguistic research on Övdalian began at the end of the 19th century with the works of Adolf Noreen, a professor of Scandinavian languages at Uppsala University in Sweden. Noreen was able to arouse his students’ interest in Övdalian and one of his students, Lars Levander, published his doctoral dissertation in 1909 on the morphology and syntax of Övdalian. His book has become the most substantial work on the variety together with his overview of the Dalecarlian dialects published in two volumes in 1925 and 1928.2 Levander’s dissertation has since been the foremost source of information on the variety during the last century and many linguists have made use of the primary data presented there when doing their own research on Övdalian. Diachronic change in Övdalian syntax since the time of Levander was examined in Rosenkvist (1994) at Lund University, who published his undergraduate thesis on certain topics in Övdalian syntax, making use of data that he had collected himself. His thesis showed that there had been substantial change in the syntax of Övdalian since Levander’s study and it initiated new research on Övdalian syntax. The present dissertation is an outcome of this recent interest in variation and change in the syntax of Övdalian. Övdalian is a seriously threatened variety today. An investigation by the association for the preservation of Övdalian, Ulum Dalska, (Larsson et al. 2008) performed in 2007 concluded that there were only 45 speakers of Övdalian younger than 15 years at that time. The entire population of Övdalian speakers is estimated to be around 2400 people, 1700 of whom live in Älvdalen and the remainder elsewhere. Several measures have been taken to preserve and revitalize Övdalian and the future will show whether such efforts have made any difference. From this point of view, it can be maintained that there is not a great deal of time to conduct research on Övdalian, as it can become extinct before the end of this century.3 This threat is serious, since all Övdalian speakers are (at least) bilingual and Swedish is their second, or sometimes, especially in the case of younger generations, their first language. The vast majority of speakers live in Sweden and both use and are exposed to Swedish in their every-day life.
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