Syntactic Variation in the Swedish of Adolescents in Multilingual Urban Settings : Subject-verb Order in Declaratives, Questions and Subordinate Clauses

Sammanfattning: This thesis investigates the use of word order variation, in particular the variable use of subject-verb inversion and non-inversion in main declarative clauses, among adolescents in contemporary multilingual settings in Sweden. The use of non-inversion in contexts that in standard Swedish require inversion is sometimes claimed to be characteristic of varieties of Swedish spoken among adolescents in multilingual urban areas. The present study includes a wide range of data, both spontaneous and elicited, and explores how common the use of non-inversion is among a relatively large group of participants in different contexts, and how the use of non-inversion is influenced by different demographic, linguistic and socio-pragmatic factors.The results show that non-inversions are used to a limited extent in all types of data in the studied population. Only certain individuals frequently employ non-inversions in some contexts. Further, no direct link is found between second language acquisition and the use of non-inversion in this study. Factors related to the issue of nativeness, for example participants’ reported age of onset of Swedish acquisition, only marginally explain the results. In general, examples of non-inversion are employed more extensively, and by more participants, in peer-peer interaction than with adults. The use of non-inversion appears to be part of some adolescents’ spontaneous language use in certain contexts. More importantly, however, the results suggest that some adolescents employ non-inversions as an active linguistic resource to express their identification with the multilingual environment and the different varieties of Swedish spoken there, to show solidarity with peers, to contest official school discourses, and to play around with linguistic stereotypes.