The Prepositional Absolute Construction (PAC) in Modern Icelandic can be defined as a small clause containing a subject NP and a non-finite verb (a present or past participle) whose case is governed by the preposition að ‘at’. Giving a brief historical overview of the PAC in Old Norse, we show how it differs from the construction in Modern Icelandic. In Old Icelandic, both dative and accusative NPs are attested in the PAC whereas in Modern Icelandic only dative NPs are found. Moreover, the distribution of the present and past participles are different in Old and Modern
Icelandic. In addition, we discuss analogous constructions in a few related languages, both within Germanic (Gothic, Old High German, Old Frisian and Old English), as well as outside of Germanic (e.g., Latin and Greek). The main emphasis, however, is on a description of the PAC in Modern Icelandic based on a detailed web study of the relevant constructions. This method was chosen because it was found to be the best way to demonstrate the fact that the PAC is relatively commonly used in Modern Icelandic, both in formal and informal language situations. Most of the examples presented in this connection are from the web study, and others were reviewed by a small number of speakers in an informal acceptability study. Among the issues considered is the syntactic function of the small clause, the valency of the verbs in the PAC and the possible word order patterns within the construction.

pdf_iconThórhallur Eythórsson, Ingunn Hreinberg Indriðadóttir. THE PREPOSITIONAL ABSOLUTE CONSTRUCTION IN ICELANDIC