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Bookmark and Share Paper 3433

The Relation between Finiteness Morphology and Verb-Second: An Empirical Study of Heritage Norwegian
Alexander K. Lykke
71-79 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


English is the only Germanic language known to have lost V2 word order in main clause declaratives. It has been proposed that the loss of V2 is caused by a preceding loss of morphologically expressed finiteness (M-finiteness) in the verbal morphology. This study tests this theory on North American Heritage Norwegian. Data are drawn from an elicitation task performed by nine Heritage Norwegian—English bilinguals. The theory is not found to give the correct empirical predictions: We find speakers who lack M-finiteness in their Norwegian language, but still produce a clear majority of V2 syntax, and one speaker who has M-finiteness, but a majority of non-V2 clauses. Additionally, there are homeland Norwegian dialects without M-finiteness that retain V2 in main clause declaratives. The morphology and syntax are found to be relatively unchanged from the homeland point of origin. The results of this study suggest that the loss of V2 in English and the non-V2 syntax displayed by the Heritage Norwegian speakers cannot be explained by means of verbal inflection.

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