Word Order Variation in Norwegian Possessive Constructions

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In Norwegian possessive constructions, the possessive may either precede or follow the noun. Monolingual children initially show a preference for the prenominal possessive construction, although it is much less frequent than the postnominal one in the adult language. A likely explanation is that postnominal possessives are structurally more complex. In this paper, we examine this word order variation in two bilingual populations, Norwegian-English children growing up in Norway and adult Norwegian heritage speakers in the USA. We expected both groups to exhibit a stronger preference for prenominal possessives than the monolingual children due to influence from English. However, we only find this in the bilingual children. One possible explanation is that, while complexity plays a major role in acquisition, high frequency protects against language attrition.


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