Tann nýggi noktandi rótarboðshátturin í føroyskum

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This paper discusses a new variety of negative imperative in Faroese. Traditionally,
the imperative precedes the negation (e.g. far ikki “go not”, i.e. ‘don’t go’), but recent
examples of the opposite order can be found on the Internet (ikki far). In addition to
this, Faroese (as well as Icelandic) uses negation + infinitive in a similar way (ikki
fara). The author discusses a few examples of the new negative imperative collected
from the Internet, and then reports on the results of two empirical studies. The first
one was a part of the Icelandic research project Variation in syntax and the relevant
study was administered by Victoria Absalonsen and Helena á Løgmansbø in the
spring of 2006. In this study 241 subjects from four different age groups were asked
to judge various sentences, including the new negative imperative. This new construction was mainly accepted by the youngest age group (16 year olds), although the
second youngest one did not reject it entirely. In a second study the author asked 34
high school students to judge the three constructions mentioned above. Although the
negative infinitive and the conventional negative impertive (imp. + neg.) were
favored by the subjects, they did not completely reject the new negative imperative
(neg. + imp.). Finally, the author discusses two possible explanations of this change.
According to the first one, the origin of the new negative imperative is to be found in
constructions where the negative infinitive precedes a word beginning with a vowel,
causing the final and unstressed vowel of the infinitive to be deleted (by a quite general sandhi rule) and the infinitive to sound like the imperative (i.e. ikki fara út > ikki
far út, where fara is unmistakenly an infinitival form whereas far would sound like
the imperative). According to the second hypothesis, this development is an example
of grammatical replication with English as the source (cf. e.g. constructions like do
not go where the negation precedes the main verb). The author suggests that both
explanations may be (partially) right
Original languageFaroese
Pages (from-to)141-152
Number of pages12
JournalÍslenskt mál og almenn málfræði
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • imperative
  • negation
  • vowel deletion
  • language contact
  • grammatical replication


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