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

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

Name: Łukasz Jędrzejowski

Position: project leader

Languages: German and its older stages


Name: Heimir van der Feest Viðarsson

Position: PhD student at the University of Iceland

Languages: Icelandic and its older stages


Associate members

  • Ásgrímur Angantýsson (University of Iceland) [homepage]
  • Thórhallur Eythórsson (University of Iceland) [homepage]
  • Andreas Pankau (Free University of Berlin) [homepage]


November 2018 – February 2019: Heimir van der Feest Viðarsson visits 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)