Systematic Variation in the Gender System in American Norwegian
Book chapter by Linn Iren Sjånes Rødvand in Selected Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Immigrant Languages in the Americas (WILA 8) by Karoline Kühl and Jan Heegård Petersen (eds.), 2018.
This paper investigates the gender system of 25 American Norwegian speakers by focusing on the indefinite article and personal pronouns referring to inanimates (PPI). New data collected by the present author are presented. These data replicate the findings of previous studies as regards individual differences in gender agreement. Importantly however, careful examination of the systematically elicited data revealed that the individual variation is in fact limited and systematic. All speakers conform to one of four patterns of gender agreement: 1) retention of the original system; 2) loss of a separate feminine PPI; 3) loss of a feminine PPI, in addition to the use of only one, invariable article; 4) a new, semantically-based pronominal system. Across these four patterns of gender agreement, however, there is a strong tendency for masculine agreement forms to be used with non-masculine nouns. I argue that this can be interpreted as a result of processing difficulties.