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Abstract

Abstract

This paper investigates syntactic variation in Hunsrückisch German, spoken in a language enclave in South Brazil over eight generations. The aim is to analyse whether this heritage language maintains asymmetric verb placement, i.e. verb-second in main clauses and verb-final in subordinate clauses, a prominent syntactic feature of German varieties. The analysis is based on a sample of 5000 sentences, produced by participants belonging to two generations of Hunsrückisch speakers: 10 older speakers (age: 55–75), and 10 younger adults (age: 25–40). The results show a general stability of asymmetric verb placement in both speaker groups, as has also been observed for other German language islands. This stability is a consequence of the active use of this minority language, not only by the older, but also by the younger generation of speakers, who are dominant in Brazilian Portuguese (BP). Variation to verb-second and verb-final order is conditioned by the same factors as in colloquial and dialectal German, and cannot be attributed to cross-linguistic influence from BP.

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2020-11-30
2021-02-24
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keywords: verb placement; Heritage German; language island; Hunsrückisch; syntactic stability
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