Verb clusters are a linguistic phenomenon where two or more verbs align in adjacent order. This paper discusses the structure of a certain type of verb cluster, namely modal infinitivo pro participio (IPP) structures, in main clauses of a moribund heritage variety of German, Moundridge Schweitzer German (MSG), spoken in Kansas. An acceptability judgment task was conducted with twelve participants to investigate two aspects of verb clusters in MSG. The first question concerned the integration of non-verbal elements, here the direct object (DO) and the negation particle (neg), in the verbal complex. The second question investigates whether MSG modal IPPs show variability in verb order, which is an essential characteristic of this type of verb cluster in other verb-cluster languages. The results show that modal IPP constructions in MSG have a fixed 2–3 verb order but allow object scrambling to some degree. Thus, while the ordering of verbs lacks syntactic variability, flexibility and variation are attested in the placement of the non-verbal constituents within the verbal complex. This is interpreted as the retention of an archaic dialectal trait.
This study explores the bilingual phonology of two heritage speakers of Moundridge Schweitzer German (msg) from Moundridge, Kansas. The speakers are descendants of Mennonite speakers of German who settled in the area around Moundridge, Kansas, in the 1870s. The production of Moundridge Schweitzer German /a/ and /ɔ/ and American English /a/ and /ɔ/ were compared and no evidence of phonological or phonetic convergence was found. For one speaker, there was evidence that phonetic realizations of /a/ and /ɔ/ in the two languages were diverging with a merger or a near merger of the two vowels in the heritage variety of German but not in English.