Word order variation in heritage languages: Subject shift and object shift in Norwegian
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This study investigates two word order phenomena in Norwegian heritage language spoken in the US, subject shift (SS) and object shift (OS). SS and OS occur in syntactic environments where (pronominal) subjects and objects may either precede or follow negation. This paper explores to what extent these two phenomena in Heritage Norwegian are affected by the factors frequency and structural similarity/difference. As subjects are frequently shifted, while objects are not, SS is expected to be robust and OS vulnerable. There is generally no structural overlap between English and Norwegian in these cases; thus, cross-linguistic similarity or difference should not play a role, except in one context: questions with auxiliaries or be, in which the two languages allow both orders (is he not/isn’t he ), but have opposite preferences. The results show that OS is somewhat vulnerable, but SS is also affected, in that both proficient and less proficient speakers seem to overuse the word order preferred in English. We thus speculate that all heritage speakers may be affected by cross-linguistic influence in situations with complete structural overlap.