Reexamining Icelandic as a Heritage Language in North America

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This chapter presents a general description of North American Icelandic (NA Icelandic), a heritage language spoken by a few hundred speakers in language conclaves in the Northern Plains of the United States and Canada. The description is mainly based on studies of the development of Icelandic as a heritage language in intense contact with English in North America (Arnbjörnsdóttir 2006). Generalizations about features of the NA Icelandic lexicon, morpho-syntax and phonology are presented in an effort to lay the groundwork for the next stage of NA Icelandic heritage linguistics. Finally, a possible future research agenda for NA Icelandic is outlined that is in line with the recent discussion about the importance of heritage languages for our understanding of the acquisition and loss of language (Benmamoun et al. 2010).


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