The formation and distribution of the analytic future tense in Polish-German bilinguals

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The paper deals with the formation and use of the two variants of the analytic future tense in Polish by Polish-German bilinguals. Two groups of Polish-German bilinguals were examined: (i) early bilinguals who were already born in Germany or came to Germany before entering school (= heritage speakers), (ii) late bilinguals who moved to Germany at least after finishing school in Poland. The data were taken from elicited narratives and an acceptability judgment task and were compared to data from a monolingual Polish control group. The analysis showed that the formal restrictions for composing the analytic future tense in Polish (i.e. selection of the imperfective aspect) are not really vulnerable to attrition in both bilingual groups. There are, however, differences in the distribution of the two forms of the analytic future tense. The early bilinguals tend to use the combination auxiliary + infinitive of the main verb more frequently since it (i) replicates the corresponding German pattern for the formation of the analytic future, and (ii) allows for not specifying certain grammatical features (e.g. gender), thus reducing the cognitive load for the speaker. The late bilinguals even prefer the combination auxiliary + l-participle to a higher degree than the controls. This could point to a desire to avoid the pattern that is extant in the surrounding language German, but also to a general preference for colloquial features due to reduced exposure to written forms of Standard Polish.


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