Forschungsprofil Dr. Jackie Nordström

I'm a linguist with a wide research profile. I do research in historical, comparative, and functional linguistics, based on the Scandinavian and other Germanic languages. One overarching goal is to find semantic and formal explanations for linguistic phenomena such as grammatical categories and morphosyntactic structures by studying actual language use in large text corpora. Another goal is to describe older stages of the Swedish language on the basis of medieval manuscripts and runic inscriptions and to offer new interpretations of problematic inscriptions.

In my PhD-thesis at the University of Lund, I explored the hypothesis that the Germanic subordinators THAT and IF express propositional modality, similar to the indicative-subjunctive distinction (Modality and Subordinators, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010). These ideas were developed further in a book chapter together with Kasper Boye (The semantics of finite clause complemetizers in Germanic languages. In: Complementizer Semantics in the European Languages. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2016).

As regards my research in Old Norse, I have firstly examined and described the decline and disappearance of the subjunctive in Old Swedish declarative subordinate clauses (Konjunktiv i fornsvenska at-satser, In Språk och Stil, 2011). Secondly, I have published an article on the Ribe skull fragment, where the rereading of two runes lead to a partial reinterpretation of the inscription (Dvärgen på Ribekraniet, Arkiv för Nordisk Filologi, 2021). According to this new interpretation, the Ribe skull fragment was a protective amulet against both a dwarf and a dwarfess. Lastly, I have recently published an extensive review of the Rök runestone, where I develop the so-called standart interpretation into a coherent interpretation pf the whole inscription (Rökstenen som visdomsdikt: en vidareutveckling av standardtolkningen. In Arkiv för Nordisk Filologi, 2023). In the paper, I argued that the Rök runstone should be interpreted as wisdom poetry, like Vafþrúðnismál, where the death-marked son must answer questions about Norse mythology in order to be let into Valhǫll.

Regarding my research in theoretical linguistics, I demonstrated in an article that the recursive-embedding model of Generative Grammar cannot describe human language, but that human language must be a discrete-combinatorial system as described in Dependency Grammar (Language as a discrete combinatorial system, rather than a recursive embedding one, In Linguistic Review, 2014). In a follow-up article, I argued that human language also does not need a separate syntactic component to generate syntactic structures (Language without Narrow Syntax, In Linguistic Review, 2017). These two articles formed the basis for my habilitation thesis Language as Sound with Meaning, published in 2022 by Lincoln Academic Publishers.

Lastly, in various articles and book chapters, I have given semantic and functional explanations for seemingly purely formal phenomena, such as subordination (Dependency grammar and subordination. In Word Grammar, Cognition and Dependency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2024), agreement (Semantic agreement and the Dual Model of Language. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 43, 2024) and the Swedish -construction (The Swedish -construction, a new point of departure. Working Papers in Scandinavian Syntax 85, 2010).


Institut für Skandinavistik

Miriam Schmitthenner
Norbert-Wollheim-Platz 1
Raum 155
D-60629 Frankfurt am Main
Tel. +49 (069) 798 32987

Montag bis Donnerstag 10-14 Uhr
Freitag 10-13 Uhr

Während der vorlesungsfreien Zeit bleibt das Sekretariat freitags geschlossen!

Institut für Skandinavistik
Norbert-Wollheim-Platz 1
D-60323 Frankfurt am Main