Object shift and object scrambling in Germanic

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The literature often makes a terminological distinction between object shift and object scrambling in case of leftward object movement in the Scandinavian and the continental West-Germanic languages, respectively. This reflects the theoretical claim originating from the 1980’s that we are dealing with two different syntactic rules. It has become increasingly clear, however, that the notion of scrambling is used as an umbrella term for different kinds of movement. This review will show that there are good reasons for assuming that object shift and one specific kind of scrambling can be characterized as A-movement (i.e. movement of arguments related to case assignment and agreement) of the object(s) triggered by structural case features. This motivates a revaluation of the data that led to the earlier conclusion that object shift and scrambling behave differently with respect to Holmberg’s generalization, as well as a discussion of the linguistic nature of this generalization.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Research Encyclopedia, Linguistics
ISBN (Electronic)9780199384655
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2023


  • object shift
  • scrambling
  • A-movement
  • information structure
  • Holmberg’s generalization
  • language variation


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