The cognitive status of null subject referents in Old Norse and their Modern Norwegian counterparts
This paper investigates the distribution of pronouns in Old Norse and Modern Norwegian, focusing mainly on Old Norse referential null subjects and their counterparts in Modern Norwegian. The theoretical starting point is the Givenness Hierarchy of Gundel et al. (1993), which predicts that null and unstressed pronouns can only be used appropriately if their referents have the cognitive status <i>in focus, </i>meaning, in short, that their referents must be “[…] at the current center of attention” (Gundel et al. 1993: 279). I will argue that the referents of Old Norse null subjects are not necessarily <i>in focus</i>, whereas Modern Norwegian unstressed subject pronouns seem to require this. I will propose an analysis of Old Norse null subjects whereby cognitive status is supplemented by semantic and morphological factors.