We are pleased to announce that another HL2C seminar will take place on Thursday 27th January from 3pm to 4pm GMT (Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London).
Shanley Allen (Kaiserslautern)
Information structure in the majority English of heritage speakers: Cross-linguistic influence and other patterns
How to join:
Our seminars are free to attend. Simply sign up to the HL2C Mailing List to receive the link to join us via Microsoft Teams link. You do not need a Teams account to access the talk.
Most linguistic research on heritage speakers to date has focused on their heritage language (Benmamoun et al. 2013; Kupisch 2013; Montrul 2016). In contrast, much less is known about patterns in their majority language, especially for adolescents and adults. In majority English, for example, only a few studies have been published to date, all focused on semantic structures (Lee et al. 2011; Montrul & Ionin 2010; Scontras et al. 2017).
To address this gap, we undertook a large-scale project investigating noncanonical patterns in majority English as produced by adolescent and adult heritage speakers of German, Greek, Russian and Turkish as well as English monolinguals in the USA – part of the Research Unit on Emerging Grammars in Language Contact Situations (RUEG). The 276 participants in our study all recounted a short video of a (fictitious) car accident, in each of four registers (informal spoken, informal written, formal spoken, formal written). Narratives were all transcribed and annotated in Exmaralda. We then explored several patterns related to information structure, particularly in the domains of referential expression and syntactic construction. Consistent with RUEG’s overarching approach, we assessed the impact of register, age, and language contact.
In this talk, I will present the results of our work to date on concept lexicalization, clause types, subordination, and left dislocations. While some results show cross-linguistic influence from the heritage language to majority English, others show a general pattern across all groups of heritage speakers regardless of language background. Our results contribute to the understanding of the contact-linguistic status of non-canonical patterns in the majority English of heritage speakers, the sources of their development, and their position within speakers’ broader repertoires of languages and registers.