Two case studies on structural variation in multilingual settings

Ariana Bancu


In this article, I report on two analyses of variation in Transylvanian Saxon (TrSax), an endangered Germanic language in contact with German and Romanian, used in settings predictive of structural influences among languages. My goals are to document the structural properties of the target variables and to evaluate if processes of language contact have an effect on synchronic variation in TrSax. I identified two areas of TrSax that display variation at the morphosyntactic level, and in each case one of the variants has a corresponding structure in German, while the other variant has a corresponding structure in Romanian. To tease apart contact-induced variation from internally motivated variation, I compare data from multilingual speakers with different linguistic profiles and assess the effect of sociolinguistic factors on variation through mixed effects analyses. Variation that patterns similarly across these two groups can provide a clearer account of the structure of TrSax, while differences between the groups can shed light on trajectories of change in TrSax. Furthermore, results of this study have implications for borrowing hierarchies in language contact.


morphosyntactic variation; Transylvanian Saxon; verb clusters; category-specific conjunctions

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