Publication details [#59735]

Putnam, Michael T. and Holger Hopp. 2015. Syntactic restructuring in heritage grammars. Word order variation in Moundridge Schweitzer German. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 5 (2) : 180–214.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


In order to elucidate the structure of heritage grammars, this paper presents an analysis of word order variation in Moundridge Schweitzer German (MSG), a moribund heritage variety of German spoken in South Central Kansas. Based on elicited production data and an acceptability judgment task, it is shown that the current state of the MSG grammar maintains the asymmetric German verb-second (V2) and verb-final (V-final) word-ordering closely tied to specific pragmatic information associated with clause-types and complementizers. Extensive contact with English does not lead to adoption of English word order; rather, it occasions restructuring of German word order within the constraints of German syntax. The paper models these findings in a syntactic analysis following recent proposals by Putnam & Sánchez (2013) and Polinsky (2011) that challenge the notion of ‘incomplete acquisition’ as a way to conceptualize heritage language acquisition.