German-Icelandic Contrasts

Project details

  • Full title: German-Icelandic Contrasts
  • Subject area: Humanities
  • Supporting institutions: a.r.t.e.s. – Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne; Collaborative Research Center 1252 Prominence in Language
  • Project lead: Łukasz Jędrzejowski, University of Cologne, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of German Language und Literature I – Linguistics

Brief project description

Although German and Icelandic are genetically related, their syntactic structures differ in remarkably many respects. Some selected contrasts have been discussed by Haider (2005, 2013). However, the question of where the conspicuous variation between both languages comes from has been taken up only occasionally and still needs to be addressed. The main aim of this project is therefore to focus on novel contrasts between German and Icelandic at the syntax-semantics interface, account for the attested variation, parametrize it, and, finally, develop a unified account. The project output is expected to lead to a certain abstract unity among the contrasts in specific grammatical domains.


  • Haider, Hubert (2005): How to turn German into Icelandic – and derive the OV-VO contrasts. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 8(1-2): 1–53.
  • Haider, Hubert (2013): Symmetry Breaking in Syntax. Cambridge: CUP.

Project members (in alphabetical order)

Upcoming events

  • April–May 2021: Ásgrímur Angantýsson will be on sabbatical leave and a visiting professor at the University of Cologne. The main aim of his visit is to work on adverbial clauses across Germanic languages.
  • June 2021: Ásgrímur Angantýsson and Łukasz Jędrzejowski will give a talk at the 12th International Conference on Nordic and General Linguistics at the University of Oslo. The talk is entitled Layers of subordinate clauses: A view from causal af-því-að-clauses in Icelandic.


  • Łukasz Jędrzejowski / Ásgrímur Angantýsson & Oddur Snorrason (in prep.): On exceptive nema-clauses in Icelandic.
  • Łukasz Jędrzejowski & Heimir van der Feest Viðarsson (submitted): On the diachrony and variation of adverbial mirative clauses. Evidence from North- and West-Germanic languages.
  • Ángantýsson, Ásgrímur & Łukasz Jędrzejowski (resubmitted): Layers of subordinate clauses: A view from causal af-því-að-clauses in Icelandic, in: On the Variation of Causal Clauses ed. by Łukasz Jędrzejowski & Constanze Fleczoreck. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Ángantýsson, Ásgrímur & Łukasz Jędrzejowski (2020): On causal af-því-að-clauses in Icelandic with a brief comparison to German verb final weil-clauses, in: Working Papers in Scandinavian Syntax 104: 29–55 [final].

Past events

  • Hulda Vigdísardóttir has started a PhD position at the University of Iceland on January 1st, 2021, and works on adverbial clauses in Germanic languages. Congratulations, Hulda!
  • September 2020: Ásgrímur Angantýsson gives a talk at the conference Hugvísindasvið 2020 at the University of Iceland about the syntax and semantics of adverbial causal af-því-að-clauses in Icelandic (YouTube link, 1:22:24).
  • March 2020: Łukasz Jędrzejowski gives a joint talk with Heimir van der Feest Viðarsson at the Íslenska málfræðifélagið (‘The Linguistics Society of Iceland’) entitled On adverbial mirative clauses in German and Icelandic.
  • March 2020: Łukasz Jędrzejowski teaches an advanced course on subordinate clauses in German and Icelandic at the University of Iceland. It was part of Ásgrímur Angantýsson’s course Íslensk og erlend setningagerð (‘The syntactic structure of Icelandic and other languages’).
  • December 2019: Heimir van der Feest Viðarsson successfully defends his PhD thesis Socio-Synactic Variation and Change in Nineteenth-Century Icelandic. The Emergence and Implementation of a National Standard Language at the University of Iceland [read / hear more in Icelandic]. Congratulations, Heimir!

Heimir van der Feest Viðarsson’s defense at the University of Iceland (December 2019)

  • November 2018 – February 2019: Heimir van der Feest Viðarsson visits the University of Cologne as an international junior fellow. The main aim of his visit is to examine selected syntactic contrasts between German and Icelandic in infinitival complement and adverbial clauses, to prepare questionnaires and, finally, to work on joint publications.

Heimir van der Feest Viðarsson at the University of Cologne (December 2018)