Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - RUEG P3

Nominal morphosyntax and word order in heritage Russian across majority languages

The project tackles the question of whether and how heritage Russian in Germany and in the US develops novel grammatical patterns as regards to nominal morphological categories and word order.

Furthermore, the project aims at theoretically modelling emerging grammatical varieties in the investigated domains and in general from the perspective of RUEG’s three joint ventures:

  •  Joint Venture I (“Language Change Hypothesis”) dealing with the systematicity of non-canonical grammatical patterns,
  •  Joint Venture II (“Interface Hypothesis”) locating new linguistic developments at external versus internal interfaces, and
  •  Joint Venture III (“Internal Dynamics Hypothesis”) teasing apart contact-induced from language-internal change.

To this end, we investigate linguistic phenomena from two domains:

  1.  nominal morphosyntax, especially case, which is often taken to belong to the narrow grammatical system involving internal interfaces, but which nevertheless interacts with word order, and
  2. word order phenomena at the left sentential periphery on the one hand, and verb placement on the other.

The left periphery is often associated with the interaction of syntax and information structure/discourse (external interface), whereas verb placement (especially with respect to the direct object: head-complement vs. complement-head) is regarded as belonging to core syntax.

We will compare heritage speakers’ data to those of monolingual Russian speakers from Russia, and, following RUEG’s unified elicitation setting, we will take informal/formal and spoken/written registers and age into account.

Our results will be compared to the RUEG projects working on word order phenomena in other heritage languages (Turkish, Greek, heritage German) and in the majority languages (German, English), as well as to results on nominal morphosyntax in Greek as a heritage language.

The project will contribute to the understanding of linguistic change in bi- (or multi-)lingual communities depending on multiple factors (situational/register-related, concerning different contact-linguistic settings, social, input-related etc.) by taking up a strongly comparative approach, and to theoretical accounts of emerging grammatical patterns.


Cooperation Partners:

Tanja Anstatt, Universität Bochum
Nina Kazanina, University of Bristol
Maria Voeikova, Institute of Linguistic Research St. Petersburg
Ianthi Tsimpli, Cambridge University
Ludovica Serratrice, University of Reading
Marit Westergaard, UiT The Arctic University