Argentine Danish grammatical gender: stability with strongly patterned variation

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Jan Heegård, Karoline Kühl

This paper investigates grammatical gender and gender agreement in Heritage Argentina Danish. The basis for the investigation is a subset of the ‘Corpus of South American Danish’ (CoSAmDa) providing approximately 20.500 tokens of gender marking produced by 90 speakers. The results show that Argentine Danish gender marking in general complies with Standard Danish but also that there are systematic differences: There is hardly any difference compared to Standard Danish with respect to the definite suffix, only the gender marking on prenominal determiners differs from Standard Danish. The variation goes in the direction of an overgeneralization of common gender, i.e. the less frequent neuter gender is more vulnerable to variation, and complex NPs (with attributive adjectives) show more variation than simple NPs. The analysis also includes socio-linguistic factors and it shows that tokens produced older speakers and by speakers from settlements with a higher degree of language maintenance comply more with Denmark Danish gender marking. The paper compares these results with other studies of gender marking variation in other Germanic heritage languages, and it concludes that the overall stability of grammatical gender in the Germanic heritage languages included in the discussion is a more general language contact pattern that only partly relates to social or societal factors.
Keywords: heritage language; language contact; bilingualism; gender marking; multi-factorial regression analysis
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Germanic Linguistics
ISSN1470-5427
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019

ID: 229372867