Background and activities

I am Full Professor of English linguistics in the Department of Language and Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Before I came to Trondheim, I did my PhD in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Maryland in the United States under the supervision of Professor Paul Pietroski. And before that, I did an undergraduate degree in linguistics and Nordic languages at the University of Oslo in Norway.

I am the director of the PhD program in language and linguistics at the Faculty of Humanities. I am also leading the research group Linguistic Complexity in the Individual and Society (LCIS), which is funded by the Faculty of Humanities from 2014-2017.

I am an associate member of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) at the University of Reading, and an affiliate of the Center for the Study of Mind in Nature (CSMN) at the University of Oslo.


I study how words are put together to sentences and what the meanings of those sentences are. So far I have particularly been concerned with how to account for certain constraints that human languages exhibit on displacement (e.g., why you can say "What did John say that Peter wrote?" but you cannot say "What did John kick the ball because Mary played?") and with how we can give a ‘simple’ theory of how structures and meanings combine to yield utterances.

Today I am spending a lot of time working on developing an exoskeletal theory of language mixing (which includes code switching). This is done together with Professor Tor Anders Åfarli and two PhD candidates: Maren Berg Grimstad and Brita Ramsevik Riksem. Together we conssitute the research group Exoskeletal Approaches to Grammar (EXOGRAM). I am also interested in how we understand the grammatical category gender, and together with postdoc Guro Busterud, in collaboration with Marit Westergaard (Tromsø) and Yulia Rodina (Oslo-MultiLing), we are investigating the acquisiton of gender in the Trondheim dialect.

My recent book, Phrase structure and argument Structure: a case study of the syntax-semantics interface, presents a new theory of the syntax-semantics interface. It is an extensively rewritten version of my PhD dissertation Without Specifiers: Phrase Structure and Events. Specifically, I argue that a theory of phrase structure that does not make use of specifiers and a theory using Neo-Davidsonian logical forms offer exactly the right match. This, in turn, raises issues about the syntax and the semantics components, and what we mean by ‘simplicity’ and ‘transparency’.

I am also interested in the history of modern grammatical theory, and how particular frameworks differ and how and why they evolved. In addition, I have a deep interest in fundamental philosophical questions as they pertain to linguistics. These include: What is the capacity for language? How does it arise in the individual? How is it put to use? More specifically, I focus on how to characterize linguistic knowledge and whether such knowledge involves notions such as truth and reference when it comes to the meaning of sentences.

Besides linguistics, I am also interested in the humanities and higher education more generally. I often write about such issues in Norwegian newspapers and journals.

Scientific, academic and artistic work

Displaying a selection of activities. See all publications in the database

Journal publications


  • Lohndal, Terje. (2014) Phrase Structure and Argument Structure: A Case Study of the Syntax-Semantics Interface. Oxford University Press. 2014. ISBN 9780199677115.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2013) In search of universal grammar : from Old Norse to Zoque. John Benjamins Publishing Company. 2013. ISBN 978-90-272-5585-3. Linguistik Aktuell Linguistics Today (202).

Part of book/report

  • Lohndal, Terje; Uriagereka, Juan. (2014) Principles and Parameters/Minimalism. The Routledge Handbook of Syntax.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2013) Introduction. In search of universal grammar : from Old Norse to Zoque.
  • Lohndal, Terje; Haegeman, Liliane. (2013) Negation. The Bloomsbury Companion to Syntax.
  • Lohndal, Terje; Lasnik, Howard. (2013) Brief overview of the history of generative syntax. The Cambridge Handbook of Generative Syntax.
  • Lohndal, Terje; Lasnik, Howard. (2013) Noam Chomsky. Oxford Bibliographies - Linguistics.
  • Lohndal, Terje; Samuels, Bridget. (2013) Linearizing Empty Edges. Syntax and its Limits.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2012) Towards the end of argument structure. The End of Argument Structure?.
  • Westergaard, Marit; Vangsnes, Øystein A; Lohndal, Terje. (2012) Norwegian som: The complementizer that climbed to the matrix Left Periphery and caused Verb Second violations. Enjoy Linguistics! Papers offered to Luigi Rizzi on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2009) The Copula Cycle. Cyclical Change.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2007) On the structure and development of nominal phrases in Norwegian. Nominal determination. Typology, context constraints, and historical emergence.


  • Lohndal, Terje. (2014) Best uten tall. Dagens Næringsliv [Avis]. 2014-01-24.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2014) Dagens gjest. P1 - Her og Nå [Radio]. 2014-01-13.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2013) Vil redde Jesu morsmål. NRK [Avis]. 2013-02-01.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2012) Are the humanities useful?. 50th Anniversary of Agder Academy of Science and Letters . Agder Vitenskapsakademi; 2012-10-27.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2012) Den fantastiske språkevnen. Greveakademiet . Greveskogen videregående skole; Tønsberg. 2012-12-05.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2012) Han skriver seg inn i historiebøkene. Farsunds Avis [Avis]. 2012-09-17.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2012) Hva vil det si å være menneske?. Språkteigen [Radio]. 2012-09-23.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2012) NTNU har to av de ti beste. Universitetsavisa [Internett]. 2012-09-14.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2012) Språkorganisten. Morgenbladet [Avis]. 2012-09-14.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2012) Stjernelingvist med beina på jorda. Uniforum [Internett]. 2012-06-14.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2012) Tok doktorgrad i rekordfart. Farsunds Avis [Avis]. 2012-03-05.
  • Lohndal, Terje; Olsen, Dag Rune. (2012) Roper på næringslivet. Dagens Næringsliv [Avis]. 2012-10-12.
  • Lohndal, Terje. (2010) Freezing Effects and Objects. Colloquium . Universität Leipzig; 2010-04-23.

Postal address

Department of Language and Literature Norwegian University of Science and Technology 7491 Trondheim Norway