Competition at the Left Edge: Left-Dislocation vs. Topicalization in Heritage Germanic
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The present work analyses left dislocation (LD) in Heritage German and Heritage Norwegian as a phenomenon of the left periphery of the clause. Fieldwork conducted from the 1940s through the 2010s shows both a robust maintenance of verb second (V2) and that pragmatically-conditioned copy left dislocation (CLD) occurs in complementary distribution with V2 in these heritage languages (HLs), and in ways that are consistent with the pre-immigration, homeland varieties. This study therefore unifies CLD and bare topic constructions (BTCs) under a single structure, in which the resumptive pronoun is either overt (CLD) or covert (BTC), with CLD being restricted to instances where there is either a pragmatic condition (e.g., emphasis, contrast, topic shift) or an interlocutor (e.g., narration). Infrequently, some speakers employ CLD in the absence of these conditions, where BTC would otherwise be expected. The authors propose that this change is motivated diachronically as the reanalysis of specifiers as heads, under the Avoid Silent Heads (ASH) principle (Eide 2011; cf. van Gelderen 2007), and consistent with the tendency for (heritage) speakers to prefer overt heads to covert ones (Polinsky 2018). Such change corresponds with the lexicalization of formerly pragmatically-conditioned XPs as obligatory heads.