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Cross-linguistic similarities and differences in bilingual acquisition and attrition: Possessives and double definiteness in Norwegian heritage language



This study investigates possessives and modified definite DPs in a corpus of heritage Norwegian spoken in the US. Both constructions involve variation in Norwegian – two word orders for possessives (pre- and postnominal) and two exponents of definiteness (a prenominal determiner and a suffix) – while English only has one of these options. The findings show that a large majority of the heritage speakers overuse the structures that are maximally different from English structures, i.e., postnominal possessors and single suffixal definiteness marking. We argue that their production pattern is the result of cross-linguistic overcorrection (CLO). In addition, a small group of the heritage speakers show signs of cross-linguistic influence (CLI) and overuse the English-like structures in both constructions. These speakers also have a slightly lower proficiency in the heritage language. Our findings are discussed in terms of previous research on monolingual and Norwegian–English bilingual children.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Merete Anderssen, Department of Language and Culture, Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway, 9037 Tromsø, Norway


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*This research was supported by a grant from the Research Council of Norway for the project MiMS (Micro-variation in Multilingual Acquisition & Attrition Situations), project number 250857. We would like to thank Bror-Magnus Sviland Strand and Alexander Pfaff for help with the heritage language data. We also thank three anonymous reviewers and the editors for a number of helpful suggestions.



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Cross-linguistic similarities and differences in bilingual acquisition and attrition: Possessives and double definiteness in Norwegian heritage language



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