Variation and stability of American Norwegian /r/ in contact
Journal article by David Natvig in Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, published online April 15, 2021.
Sound patterns in heritage languages are often highly variable, potentially with influences from majority languages. Yet, the core phonological system of the heritage language tends to remain stable. This article considers variation in the phonetic and phonological patterns of /r/ in American Norwegian heritage language speakers from neighboring communities in western Wisconsin, in the Upper Midwestern United States. Drawing on acoustic data from speakers born between 1879 and 1957, I examine the distribution of four rhotic allophones, including an English-like approximant, over time. These data reveal an increase of approximants that is structured within the Norwegian phonological system and its processes. Furthermore, analyzing these changes with the proposed modular framework provides clarity for how heritage language sound systems do and do not change under contact and contributes to our understanding of the asymmetric phonetic and phonological heritage language patterns.