The Highest Force Hypothesis : Subordination in Swedish

Sammanfattning: This study discusses subordination in Swedish from the perspective of three construction types that involve clauses that have traditionally been difficult to classify as unambiguous main or subordinate clauses: “embedded V2”-constructions, direct speech constructions, and exclamatives. A general hypothesis regarding subordination and "superordination” is proposed: The Highest Force Hypothesis. The formulation of this hypothesis draws on seminal work by den Besten (1983), and it is argued that the status of a Swedish clause as main or subordinate is directly linked to the position of the finite verb; verb movement takes place in main clauses, but not in subordinate clauses. Such a proposal naturally raises a number of questions that are discussed in this work. It is shown that the hierarchical status of the clauses involved in the three constructions mentioned above can be given a unified account within the framework of The Highest Force Hypothesis. An important point in the proposed analysis is that certain alleged hypotactic relations, such as “embedded V2” and direct speech constructions, are better understood in terms of textual relations holding between syntactically independent main clauses. It is also shown that exclamatives, which display subordinate clause word order, but nevertheless have been claimed to be main clauses, are truly subordinate. The overarching aim of the study is to reach a deeper understanding of super- and subordination on a general level, and the The Highest Force Hypothesis is applied not only to clauses, but also to non-clausal structures.