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Optimality-Theoretic Syntax, Semantics, and PragmaticsFrom Uni- to Bidirectional Optimization$
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Géraldine Legendre, Michael T. Putnam, Henriëtte de Swart, and Erin Zaroukian

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198757115

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198757115.001.0001

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Multiple grammars, dominance, and optimization

Multiple grammars, dominance, and optimization

(p.158) 7 Multiple grammars, dominance, and optimization
Optimality-Theoretic Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics

Joshua Bousquette

Michael T. Putnam

Joseph Salmons

Benjamin Frey

Daniel Nützel

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines parasitic gaps in varieties of German spoken by bilingual heritage speakers in Wisconsin, using Optimality Theory (OT) to model variation. Data from interviews with forty-one consultants show that our consultants license parasitic gapping in syntactic domains that are otherwise prohibited in Modern Standard German. We argue that these structures in spoken Wisconsin Heritage German result from online transfer from the socially dominant L2 (English) into the heritage L1 (German). We sketch a model of this transfer as a case of constraint reranking, and suggest that variation in the dataset benefits from the use of “floating” constraints (e.g. Antilla 1997; Legendre et al. 2002; Nagy and Reynolds 1997). We conclude with remarks on the role of bilingualism in language change, and argue that an OT approach is by nature suited to analyzing just such variation and change in bilingual heritage grammars.

Keywords:   Optimality Theory, heritage languages, bilingualism, German, English, floating constraints, optimization

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