Adding the microdimension to the study of language change in contact. Three case studies
Luigi Andriani, Roberta D'Alessandro, Alberto Frasson, Brechje van Osch, Sorgini Luana, Silvia Terenghi
September 2021

Syntactic change in contact is generally accounted for by referring to either cognitive, structural/typological, or sociolinguistic factors. However, the relative weight of these factors in shaping the outputs of contact is yet to be assessed. In this paper, we propose a microcontact approach to the study of change in contact, one that focuses on microsyntactic points of variation across multiple language pairs that are structurally very close. We show that such an approach makes it possible to identify some of the factors that are involved in change with a better approximation. By considering three case studies centered on the syntax of subjects, objects, and indexicals, we show that the outputs of syntactic change in microcontact diverge from what is expected under otherwise solid generalizations (avoidance of indeterminacy, avoidance of silence, the Interface Hypothesis, and the general stability of the indexical domain) for change in contact. Microcontact offers a finer-grained point of observation, allowing us to go beyond broader typological assumptions and to focus on the link between structure and cognition. The results of our case studies highlight that the outputs of change in contact are an interplay between cognitive and structural factors (see also Muysken 2013 for additional processing considerations), and that the micro-variational dimension is crucial to draw a precise picture of heritage language syntax. Comments/questions/suggestions: very welcome!
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006166
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted
keywords: heritage languages, dom, null subject, pronouns, auxiliaries, syntax, microcontact, syntax
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