Edited by Bernhard Brehmer and Jeanine Treffers-Daller
[Studies in Bilingualism 59] 2020
► pp. 15–32
By comparing two generations of speakers in China and the Netherlands, we investigated whether Wenzhounese Chinese as spoken by heritage speakers in the Netherlands might be subject to change due to its contact with the Dutch language. To this end, we considered how nouns referring to already mentioned referents were encoded, hypothesizing an increase in overtly marked already mentioned referents in the speech of second generation speakers in the Netherlands. Also, shifts in the use of classifier and demonstrative constructions were investigated as carriers of definite meanings. The data showed clear generation effects, especially in the use of classifier and demonstrative constructions, but no location effects. Although the interpretation of the data is compromised by the fact that Wenzhounese as spoken China is under threat, the study suggests that innovations found in heritage speakers may not necessarily be related to the heritage scenario, but can also reflect more general contact effects or internally motivated changes.