Language, Lexicon, Text, and Translation
A Descriptive and Comparative Account with Analyzed Texts
This article presents on interviews with 10 bilingual speakers of American English and Wisconsin Heritage German (WHG), with respect to their licensing of high (NP1) versus low (NP2) agreement. In terms of linguistic typology, English copular constructions license only NP1 agreement, in which the verb agrees in person and number with the first—or syntactically high—nominal element in the clause; Standard German copular constructions license NP2 agreement with the lower nominal element in the clause (though subsequent topicalization of this element is also licit). As a second variable, a subset (7) of these speakers license complementizer agreement (C-agr) in WHG, which obtains from a second, syntactically high agreement structure in the complementizer field, in addition to the canonical German NP2 structure. These data were compared to a control group of the remaining three WHG speakers who did not license C-agr.
Data presented here suggest a bi-directional transfer of both NP1 and NP2 agreement structures for both groups of heritage language (HL) speakers. The control group produced a majority of forms consistent with both English and German language-specific grammars. Evidence of NP2 structures in the control group’s English, however, suggests that these speakers are HL-dominant—since NP2 is categorically prohibited in English. WHG speakers with C-agr, in contrast to the control group, produced a majority of NP1 forms in both languages, with the presence of C-agr being a predicting factor in the presence of NP1 agreement in the English of WHG speakers. It is here argued that the presence of C-agr in the HL is similar to the canonical NP1 structures of Standard English, allowing for overlapping licit NP1 structures in both varieties. Data from Assumed Identify Constructions (AICs) suggests that canonical NP2 agreement in C-agr WHG may have been weakened as a result. This research suggests that even superficially English-like grammar may obtain not from a direct transfer from the L2 into the HL, but rather from the interaction of English grammar with the autochthonous grammatical structures of non-standard HLs.
Karoline Kühl and Jan Heegård Petersen
The paper investigates the placement of subject and finite verb in topicalized, i.e. non-subject initial declarative main clauses in North American Danish. European Danish adheres to the V2-rule and thus requires inversion, while North American Danish allows for non-inversion, i.e. [X]SV word order. Based on a sample of approx. 1700 tokens of topicalized declarative clauses produced by 64 speakers, we observe a general stability of V2 in North American Danish. In order to explain the instances of non-V2, we employ both linguistic and sociolinguistic factors.
Tiffany Judy, Michael T. Putnam and Jason Rothman
In this paper we take a closer look at the oft-touted divide between heritage language speakers and adult second language (L2) learners. Here, we explore whether some properties of language may display general effects across different populations of bilinguals, explaining, at least partially, why these two groups show some common differences when compared with monolinguals. To test this hypothesis, we adduce data from two unique populations of bilinguals: a moribund variety of heritage German spoken in southwestern Kansas (Moundridge Schweitzer German) and L2 adult learners of Spanish. Empirically, we investigate whether the confound of switch reference adds an additional cognitive burden to these bilinguals in licensing object control predicates in the former and referential subject pronouns in the latter. Our preliminary findings support the view that overarching concepts such as incomplete acquisition cannot capture the variability observed in these populations, thus further supporting approaches that interpret findings such as these to be the result of specific variables.
Birna Arnbjörnsdóttir, Höskuldur Thráinsson and Iris Edda Nowenstein
The finite verb typically occurs in second position in main clauses in Germanic languages other than English. Hence they are often referred to as ʽverb-second languagesʼ or V2-languages for short. The difference between a V2-language and a non-V2 language is shown in (i)–(ii) with Icelandic examples and English glosses (the finite verb is highlighted):
In example (i) the finite verb occurs in second position in Icelandic, immediately following the subject María in Icelandic but in the English gloss it occurs in third position, following the adverb never. In (ii) the finite verb immediately follows the fronted (topicalized) object Maríu in Icelandic but in the English gloss the finite verb again occurs in third position, this time following the subject. This article discusses the influence of intense language contact (English/Icelandic) on the two V2-order types in North American Icelandic (NAmIce), a heritage language spoken in former Icelandic conclaves in North America. We show that the subject-first V2-order is more robust in NAmIce than the topic-first V2-order and less vulnerable to English influence, although both types are affected to some extent. This is interesting for two reasons. First, it has been argued that word order is typically less prone to cross-linguistic influence than for instance morphology. Second, these results suggest that, contrary to common assumption, the two types of V2-orders discussed here may have different syntactic sources in Icelandic syntax.
Janne Bondi Johannessen and Ida Larsson
Previous studies on gender in Scandinavian heritage languages in America have looked at noun-phrase internal agreement. It has been shown that some heritage speakers have non-target gender agreement, but this has been interpreted in different ways by different researchers. This paper presents a study of pronominal gender in Heritage Norwegian and Swedish, using existing recordings and a small experiment that elicits pronouns. It is shown that the use of pronominal forms is largely target-like, and that the heritage speakers make gender distinctions. There is, however, some evidence of two competing systems in the data, and there is a shift towards a two-gender system, arguably due to koinéization.
Brita Ramsevik Riksem
This article investigates the morphosyntax of American Norwegian noun phrases that show mixing between Norwegian and English and proposes a formal analysis of these. The data show a distinct pattern characterized by English content items occurring together with Norwegian functional material such as determiners and suffixes. In the article, it will be argued that an exoskeletal approach to grammar is ideally suited to capture this empirical pattern. This framework crucially separates the realization of functional and non-functional terminals in an abstract, syntactic structure. Insertion of functional exponents is restricted by feature matching, whereas insertion into non-functional terminals is radically less restrictive. English exponents for noun stems are thus easily inserted into open positions in the structure, whereas functional exponents are typically drawn from Norwegian, as these are better matches to feature bundles comprising definiteness, number, and gender. In addition to the typical mixing pattern, the article addresses an unexpected empirical phenomenon, the occurrence of the English plural -s, and proposes a possible analysis for this using the exoskeletal framework. The formal analysis of American Norwegian noun phrases also exemplifies how an exoskeletal approach complies with the ideal of a Null theory of language mixing.