Maintaining a Multilingual Repertoire

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This paper examines change in the lexicon of American Norwegian by investigating phonemic, semantic and lexical transfer from American English into the heritage Norwegian of the American Midwest. We observe these types of transfer when the semantic structure, phonemic structure, or both, are transferred from English to the heritage variety. Drawing on Matras’ (2009) insight that languages converge as a result of the need to simplify the selection procedure, we expect lexical transfer (involving both semantic and phonemic structure) to be the most abundant of these three phenomena as it provides more convergence (simplification). Our findings support this hypothesis and corroborate those of Haugen (1953), showing that lexical transfer is the most common route of convergence in American Norwegian.


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