PhD candidates

Ragnhild Eik

My project looks at the mechanism of compounding in Norwegian. Some examples of Norwegian compound words are løvetann 'dandelion', oppi 'up-in'/'into' and barnebokklubb 'children’s book club’. More specifically I investigate how the grammar of Norwegian compounds can inform us about the syntax-semantics interface of exoskeletal theories.

I take a special interest in the compositional semantics of this framework. Semantically, compounds can be highly compositional. They also tend to get a highly conventionalized/lexicalized meaning over time, yet at this lexicalized stage they are still recognizable as syntactically complex. Structurally, compounds seem to be located just on the border between the word level and the phrase level. Both words and phrases are thought to be built up syntactically in the exoskeletal framework, and so questions concerning the way syntax dictates semantic composition on different levels immediately arise.

Some key theoretical questions that are investigated:

  • The nature of the elements that combine in Norwegian compounds (roots, stems…)
  • Compositionality over and below the word-level
  • The relation between words and concepts
  • The semantics of roots
  • Compounding in Norwegian compared to other languages
  • Similarities between compounds and idioms


Maren Berg Grimstad

My project investigates word-internal aspects of language mixing. These are cases where one word contains items from two different languages, e.g. the word teach-a in the heritage language American Norwegian, in which the root/stem comes from English and the boldfaced past tense inflectional morpheme from Norwegian. This type of mixing has to a large extent been ignored in previous attempts to give formal accounts of language mixing/code-switching, and I wish to remedy that situation. The specific grammatical model I employ is a late-insertion exoskeletal model, where the syntactic structure is thought to be a separate entity. Lexical content items are bare roots that can be inserted into open slots, whereas functional items are exponents of specific feature matrices in the structure. Such models have been developed on the basis of monolingual data, and it would strengthen their explanatory force if they were shown to also be better than competing models at explaining bilingual data like language mixing. I intend to investigate word-internal language mixing in several typologically different language pairs, focusing specifically on verbs and making use of data from the literature as well as existing corpora. In addition to providing an analysis of this phenomenon, I hope to be able to shed some light on the nature of roots, e.g. by establishing whether or not they can be mixed on their own


Brita Ramsevik Riksem

In my project, I investigate the morphosyntax of American Norwegian noun phrases that show mixing between Norwegian and English. American Norwegian is the variety spoken by Norwegians who settled in the US roughly from the 1850s and onwards, and their descendants. The extensive contact with English has left its mark on the variety as for instance language mixing, typically characterized by English content items occurring together with Norwegian functional material, and I am interested in what these mixed phrases can tell us about the structure of Norwegian noun phrases and also about the principles of mixing. Theoretically, I follow an exoskeletal approach to grammar, where the general claim is that syntactic structures provide a skeleton or frame in which functional or substantial items are inserted. Functional components are analyzed as realizations of functional feature bundles in the structure, whereas content items are inserted into designated, open slots. Besides the typical mixing patterns in American Norwegian noun phrases, I also work on the more unexpected occurrence of the English plural –s, gender, as well as possible diachronic changes in the mixing patterns. The goals of my project are to provide a formal analysis of mixed American Norwegian noun phrases, and to demonstrate how an exoskeletal grammar is ideally suited to capture these empirical patterns at the same time as it complies with the ideal of a null theory of language mixing.

Other projects


A microcomparative study of 'doubling' in dialects of Meeteilon and Norwegian as a case of syntactic variation.

This is a project under the Indo-Norwegian Cooperation Programme in Higher Education and Research (INCP), funded by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU), 2015-2017. Professor Tor A. Åfarli is leader/PI of the Norwegian part; Professor Tanmoy Bhattacharya, Delhi University is leader/PI of the Indian part. Total allocation is around NOK 1.2 million.



In 2014 and 2015, the group has had a DAAD project together with Professor Artemis Alexiadou and University of Stuttgart. The title of the project is “The syntax-morphology interface: Evidence from multilingualism”, and the goal was to explore how multilingual data could inform theories of the syntax-morphology interface. The groups have met twice a year to discuss each other’s work and also to develop joint work.