Pancake sentence

Pancake sentences are a phenomenon in Scandinavian linguistics where sentence agreement does not follow conventional linguistic patterns. The phrase appears to have been coined by Hans-Olav Enger in a 2004 academic paper, "Scandinavian pancake sentences as semantic agreement". Enger states that pancake sentences are "where the predicative adjective apparently disagrees with its subject". This phenomenon may be related or compared to English language linguistics, where American English speakers might say "the team has arrived", syntactically agreeing the singular team, versus British English speakers saying "the team have arrived", agreeing semantically to the collective noun team.

An example from Swedish is the sentence "Pannkakor är nyttigt":

Pannkak-or är nyttig-t
Pancake-C.PL COP healthy-NEUT.SG
It’s healthy to have pancakes.

While Pannkakor 'pancakes' is plural and of common gender, nyttigt 'healthy' is inflected to singular and neuter.

A similar phenomenon also occurs in Hebrew, where the copula (and adjectives) appear to disagree with the subject, as well as is Portuguese with some nouns used without the article (Água é bom. É proibido entrada. Está proibido brincadeiras. ) when feminine nouns of either number agree with a masculine adjective in its singular form.


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