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Is das der Hammer, das du den Traktor gebrochen hast mit? Preposition Stranding in Wisconsin Heritage German
Joshua Bousquette
18-27 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper examines preposition stranding (p-stranding) in Wisconsin Heritage German (WHG). English-to-German translation tasks conducted with eight English-WHG bilingual heritage speakers (HSs) show a majority of forms licit also in Standard German, suggesting an overall stability of the grammar of the heritage language (HL) in a prolonged contact setting. However, five speakers do show English-like p-stranding, which is not typical of German; these forms account for 1/3 of all utterances. Such English-like structures in an HL are attested in other varieties in contact with English, including Acadian French and Heritage Spanish; and the cross-linguistic transfer of other, long-distance dependencies from English into the HL has previously been attested in this WHG community. The current study supports this previous scholarship, in suggesting that HSs have simultaneous access to syntactic structures from both the HL and the L2, either due to simultaneous access to either of the two grammars; or from syntactic transfer from the socially-dominant L2 into the HL. Still, while there appears to be some degree of susceptibility in the grammar in the form of p-stranding occurring outside the verbal bracket, the majority of the data nevertheless conform to licit German structures, suggesting an overall stability of the HL grammar. These data include evidence that HSs may show some preference for negotiated forms that are consistent with the language-specific parameters set by each of the two grammars.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Immigrant Languages in the Americas (WILA 8)
edited by Jan Heegård Petersen and Karoline Kühl
Table of contents
Printed edition: $220.00