Marit Westergaard

Marit Westergaard
UiT The Arctic University of Norway · Department of Language and Culture

Dr. Philos.

About

134
Publications
30,278
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Introduction
Marit Westergaard works at the Department of Language and Culture, UiT The Arctic University of Norway and also holds an adjunct professorship at NTNU Norwegian Univesrity of Science and Technology. She does research on Language Acquisition & Attrition, Multilingualism, Syntax and Historical Linguistics.
Additional affiliations
August 2015 - present
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Position
  • Professor
February 1985 - present
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (134)
Article
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In most studies on gender processing, native speakers of the same language are treated as a homogeneous group. The current study investigates to what extent an ongoing change in the gender system of Norwegian (a development from three to two genders, involving the loss of feminine) may be reflected in processing. We carried out a gender decision ta...
Article
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Aims and objectives This empirical study investigates variables affecting crosslinguistic influence (CLI) in child third language (L3) acquisition. We examine whether structural or typological similarity leads to CLI from one or both of the previously acquired languages at later stages of acquisition. Design/methodology We compare Russian-German h...
Article
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In this study, we investigate gender marking on German real and nonce words by monolingual children as well as German-Russian children, who grow up in Germany as heritage speakers of Russian. We ask whether the children use phonological and/or structural cues to assign nominal gender or rely on their lexical knowledge. To this end, we designed thre...
Article
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In this study, we investigated crosslinguistic influence (CLI) at developmental stages of third language (L3) acquisition of English by Russian–Norwegian children (N = 31). We tested seven linguistic properties within three linguistic modules (morphology, syntax and syntax-semantics). We compared the L3 learners to Norwegian (N = 90) and Russian (N...
Article
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Previous research on the acquisition of grammatical gender has shown that this property is acquired early in transparent gender systems such as Russian. However, it is not clear to what extent children are sensitive to the assignment cues and to what extent they simply memorize correspondences between frequent lexical items. Furthermore, we do not...
Article
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One of the most contentious topics in cognitive science concerns the impact of bilingualism on cognitive functions and neural resources. Research on executive functions has shown that bilinguals often perform better than monolinguals in tasks that require monitoring and inhibiting automatic responses. The robustness of this effect is a matter of an...
Article
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In this paper, we investigate an ongoing change in the grammatical gender system of Norwegian. Previous research has shown that the feminine form of the indefinite article is quickly disappearing from several dialects, which has led to claims that the feminine gender is being lost from the language. We have carried out a study of the status of the...
Article
This paper discusses possible attrition of verb second (V2) word order in Norwegian heritage language by investigating a corpus of spontaneous speech produced by 50 2nd–4th generation heritage speakers in North America. The study confirms previous findings that V2 word order is generally stable in heritage situations, but nevertheless finds approxi...
Article
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We investigate German–Russian bilingual children's sensitivity to formal and semantic cues when assigning gender to nouns in German. Across languages, young children have been shown to primarily rely on phonological cues, whereas sensitivity to semantic and syntactic cues increases with age. With its semi-transparent gender assignment system, where...
Article
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This paper discusses grammatical gender in Norwegian by bringing together data from first language acquisition, Norwegian heritage language, and dialect change. In all these contexts, gender is often claimed to be a vulnerable category, arguably due to the relative non-transparency of gender assignment. Furthermore, the feminine gender is in the pr...
Article
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This paper investigates spontaneous production from 50 speakers of Norwegian heritage language in the Corpus of American Nordic Speech and studies the interplay between four linguistic properties: possessives and double definiteness, verb second word order, grammatical gender, and the amount of language mixing. It is shown that speakers cluster in...
Article
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This paper provides an overview of Germanic languages as heritage languages, i.e. languages acquired naturalistically by children in parts of the world where these languages are not the majority language. Summarizing research on different types of heritage speakers of Danish, German, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish, we identify certain stable and...
Article
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Heritage grammars have been argued to differ with respect to whether they are an instantiation of divergent attainment or attrition. Attrition and divergent attainment are not mutually exclusive and can even co-exist with respect to the same or different grammatical phenomena, but teasing these apart requires longitudinal studies or carefully selec...
Article
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This study investigates the acquisition of articles in L2 English by L1 speakers of Dagbani, a Gur language spoken in Ghana. Dagbani differs from English in that it has two definite articles, no indefinite article, and a zero-article which may express definiteness, indefiniteness as well as genericity. The study consisted of a Forced-choice task (F...
Article
This chapter reviews some traditional generative work arguing for a close connection between child language acquisition and diachronic change. It points out some problems mainly from typical findings in child language data, and argues that the main issue is related to the size of rules and the corresponding changes. According to the model of microc...
Article
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Numerous studies have argued that bilingualism has effects on cognitive functions. Recently, in light of increasingly mixed empirical results, this claim has been challenged. One might ponder if there is enough evidence to justify a cessation to future research on the topic or, alternatively, how the field could proceed to better understand the pha...
Chapter
This study investigates two word order phenomena in Norwegian heritage language spoken in the US, subject shift (SS) and object shift (OS). SS and OS occur in syntactic environments where (pronominal) subjects and objects may either precede or follow negation. This paper explores to what extent these two phenomena in Heritage Norwegian are affected...
Chapter
This chapter provides an overview of the micro-variation in Norwegian when it comes to Verb Second (V2) word order, both in the various dialects and in the two standard written varieties of Norwegian. The variation is dependent on a number of factors, including clause type, type of initial element, and information structure. This overview demonstra...
Chapter
This study explores the production of subject and object pronouns in the case of Brazilian Portuguese (BP) and European Portuguese (EP) early and late bidi- alectal bilinguals. The distribution of empty categories in the two systems differs in terms of syntactic and semantic constraints. In this light, we test the extent to which Brazilians acquiri...
Chapter
This chapter provides an overview of the micro-variation in Norwegian when it comes to Verb Second (V2) word order, both in the various dialects and in the two written standards. The variation is dependent on a number of factors, including clause type, type of initial element, and information structure. This overview demonstrates a rich inventory o...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we consider elicited production data (real and nonce words tasks) from five different studies on the acquisition of grammatical gender in Heritage Russian, comparing children growing up in Germany, Israel, Norway, Latvia, and the United Kingdom. The children grow up in diverse heritage language backgrounds, ranging from small groups...
Article
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A search for the terms “acceptability judgment tasks” and “language” and “grammaticality judgment tasks” and “language” produces results which report findings that are based on the exact same elicitation technique. Although certain scholars have argued that acceptability and grammaticality are two separable notions that refer to different concepts,...
Article
In this article, I argue that first language (L1), second language (L2) and third language (L3) acquisition are fundamentally the same process, based on learning by parsing. Both child and adult learners are sensitive to fine linguistic distinctions, and language development takes place in small steps. While the bulk of the article focuses on cross...
Article
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This paper discusses the interplay between acquisition and theory construction. It endeavors to show how a more direct and crucially bi‐directional relationship between formal linguistic theory and the study of heritage language bilingualism can provide mutual benefit. It will be argued that data from acquisition—not exclusively but indeed especial...
Article
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Background: Linguists and psychologists have explained the remarkable similarities in the orderings of linguistic elements across languages by suggesting that our inborn ability for language makes available certain innately wired primitives. Different types of adjectives, adverbs, and other elements in the functional spine are considered to occupy...
Article
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In language acquisition studies, there is a recurring debate regarding how to account for non-target-consistent utterances produced by young children. Anderssen and Westergaard (Lingua 120:2569–2588, 2010) study the acquisition of Norwegian possessives, which may be pre- or postnominal, and find that children overuse prenominal possessives, even th...
Article
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It is well known that grammatical gender systems may change historically. Previous research has documented loss of the feminine gender in several Norwegian dialects, including those spoken in Oslo and Tromsø (Lødrup in Maal og Minne 2:120–136, 2011; Rodina and Westergaard in J Ger Linguist 27(2):145–187 2015). In these dialects, the change is chara...
Chapter
In this paper, we review recent literature on the cognitive benefits of bilingualism and suggest that studies focusing on language processing can provide insights in the debate surrounding the “bilingual advantage hypothesis”. We argue that cross-language priming can be a useful research tool, because it recruits different types of abilities, some...
Article
The Bottleneck Hypothesis (Slabakova, 2008, 2013) proposes that acquiring properties of the functional morphology is the most challenging part of learning a second language. In the experiment presented here, the predictions of this hypothesis are tested in the L2 English of Norwegian native speakers. Two constructions are investigated that do not m...
Article
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This article reports on a syntactic acceptability judgement study of 59 adult L2/Ln learners of Norwegian and a group of native controls, studying subject and object shift. These constructions involve movement of (mainly) pronominal subjects or objects across negation/adverbs. Both subject shift and object shift display considerable micro-variation...
Article
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This paper reports on an experimental study investigating the acquisition of grammatical gender in Russian by heritage speakers living in Norway. The participants are 54 Norwegian-Russian bilingual children (4;0–10;2) as well as 107 Russian monolingual controls (3;0–7;0). Previous research has shown that grammatical gender is problematic for biling...
Article
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This study investigates possessives and modified definite DPs in a corpus of heritage Norwegian spoken in the US. Both constructions involve variation in Norwegian – two word orders for possessives (pre- and postnominal) and two exponents of definiteness (a prenominal determiner and a suffix) – while English only has one of these options. The findi...
Article
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This paper focuses on the acquisition of locative prepositional phrases in L1 Norwegian. We report on two production experiments with children acquiring Norwegian as their first language and compare the results to similar experiments conducted with Russian children. The results of the experiments show that Norwegian children at age 2 regularly prod...
Chapter
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This paper compares production and judgment data collected from several North Norwegian dialects, focusing on word order variation in wh-questions (V2 vs. non- V2). The findings show that non-V2 is widespread in questions with monosyllabic wh-elements and also fully accepted in questions with phrasal wh-elements in language contact areas. Furthermo...
Article
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This study explores the interpretation of null and overt object pronouns by Brazilian Portuguese (BP) and European Portuguese (EP) bidialectal bilinguals. Object pronouns are a particularly good domain to examine, given that, particularly with respect to null objects, the underlying syntax as well as the semantic and discourse constraints that regu...
Article
In this paper, we consider variation in Verb Second (V2) word order in wh-questions across Norwegian dialects by investigating data from the Nordic Syntax Database (NSD), which consists of acceptability judgments collected at more than 100 locations in Norway. We trace the geographical distribution of the two main variables: phrasal vs. monosyllabi...
Article
Determining how and why adult outcomes of heritage speaker (HS) bilingualism differ from monolinguals is difficult because it requires the reconstruction of developmental paths from end-state data. In an effort to address this issue, we examine HSs of Turkish in Germany at an early age of development (10–15 years old, n = 22), as well as age-matche...
Chapter
IntroductionOne of the central issues in historical syntax is whether changes are typically gradual or abrupt, i.e. whether they may span several centuries or whether they appear between one generation of speakers and the next. This is linked to two main theoretical approaches to historical change, a functionalist and a formal (generative) perspect...
Article
In this paper, we explore the role of cognition in bilingual syntactic processing by employing a structural priming paradigm. A group of Norwegian-English bilingual children and an age-matched group of Norwegian monolingual children were tested in a priming task that included both a within-language and a between-language priming condition. Results...
Article
The present study examines anaphora resolution in two groups of speakers exposed to Brazilian and European Portuguese (BP and EP, respectively), considering the different null subject distribution in these languages. Our research question is whether late BP-EP bilinguals (age of EP onset: 29.1) and heritage BP speakers raised in Portugal (age of EP...
Article
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This article investigates language variation and change in the grammatical gender system of Norwegian, where feminine gender agreement is in the process of disappearing in some Northern Norwegian dialects. Speakers of the Tromsø (N=46) and Sortland (N=54) dialects participated in a Visual Word experiment. The task examined whether they used indefin...
Chapter
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Children acquiring languages such as English, German or Dutch typically go through a phase where they produce non-finite root clauses, often referred to as the Optional Infinitive (OI) stage. But there is a difference between English on the one hand and the other Germanic languages on the other with respect to the occurrence of non-finite wh-questi...
Article
Aims in this introduction we situate the seven articles in this special issue in terms of the connections between their themes and their individual contributions to the field of third language acquisition (L3A): new theoretical models, innovative methodologies, an epistemological commentary and new perspectives related to multilingual processing an...
Article
Full-text available
Aims and Objectives The main goal of the present study is to investigate effects of crosslinguistic influence in third language acquisition by simultaneous bilinguals. We address the following research questions: Do both languages contribute to crosslinguistic influence in third language acquisition, or is one of them chosen as the sole source of i...
Article
Full-text available
This paper investigates possible attrition/change in the gender system of Norwegian heritage language spoken in America. Based on data from 50 speakers in the Corpus of American Norwegian Speech (CANS), we show that the three-gender system is to some extent retained, although considerable overgeneralization of the masculine (the most frequent gende...
Article
Based on data from two experimental studies, this paper investigates the production of gender in a Norwegian dialect (Tromsø) by several groups of child and adult speakers. The findings show that gender is acquired relatively late (around age 7) and furthermore, that there are considerable differences between the groups, indicating an ongoing histo...
Article
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This paper investigates the role of parental input and transparency in the acquisition of two different gender systems, Norwegian and Russian, by bilingual children living in Norway. While gender in Russian is generally predictable from the morphophonological shape of the noun (with some exceptions), gender assignment in Norwegian is opaque. An exp...
Article
Full-text available
Based on data from two experimental studies, this paper investigates the production of gender in a Norwegian dialect (Tromsø) by several groups of child and adult speakers. The findings show that gender is late acquired (around age 7) and, furthermore, that there are considerable differences between the groups, indicating an ongoing historical chan...
Conference Paper
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This study investigates cross-linguistic influence in multilingual (Ln) acquisition of two English structures (i.e., Adv-V word order and Subject-Auxiliary inversion (residual Verb-Second, V2) by bilingual Norwegian-Russian adolescents. We propose the Linguistic Proximity Model (LPM) that explains the Ln learning: transfer occurs when a certain lin...
Article
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Children are often exposed to considerable variation in the input. Nevertheless, there is very little overgeneralization in child language data and children are typically found to make errors of omission, not errors of commission, a fact which is often referred to as conservative learning. In this paper, these findings are accounted for by a model...
Chapter
This paper discusses the considerable word order variation that existed at the end of the Middle English period, by studying four prose texts written by the same author, John Capgrave. The data are investigated in terms of information structure, and we identify the effect of three different grammars, a local East Anglian variety with syntactically...
Chapter
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Ka korpuse fortaell? Om ordstilling i hv-spørsmål i norske dialekter Øystein Alexander Vangsnes og Marit Westergaard I standardspråklig norsk finnes en regel som gjerne blir kalt V2. Den kre-ver at det finitte verbet alltid står på andreplass i setninga, som for eksem-pel i Studentene drikker øl, Hva drikker studentene? og Vanligvis drikker student...
Chapter
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This paper reports on two priming studies focusing on embedded word order in English and Norwegian, more specifically on subject-auxiliary inversion (SAI) in embedded questions in English and verb-adverb order (V2) in that-clauses in Norwegian. While the adult languages typically disprefer SAI or V2 in embedded contexts, spontaneous data show that...
Article
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This article presents a corpus study of the acquisition of grammatical gender in Norwegian in two monolingual and two bilingual Norwegian‐English children. Gender in Norwegian is expressed as agreement between the noun and other targets such as determiners and adjectives, while definiteness and plurality are expressed as suffixes on the noun itself...
Article
This chapter discusses the relationship between syntax and information structure (IS), focusing on the variation between verb-second (V2) and non- V2 word order in Middle English. It incorporates recent insights from first language acquisition in varieties of Norwegian, where variable V2 word orders are very similar to those found in the history of...
Article
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ABSTRACT This article discusses the acquisition of gender in Russian, focusing on some exceptional subclasses of nouns that display a mismatch between semantics and morphology. Experimental results from twenty-five Russian-speaking monolinguals (age 2 ; 6-4 ; 0) are presented and, within a cue-based approach to language acquisition, we argue that c...
Chapter
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Investigating the variation between verb-second (V2) and non-V2 word order in declaratives in Middle English, this chapter explores how syntax and information structure interact in the word order development during this period. It compares this interaction to similar variation in wh -questions in Present-Day Norwegian. The study makes a distinction...
Article
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Tospråklighet og ordstilling i norske possessivkonstruksjoner Merete Anderssen og Marit Westergaard I norske eiendomskonstruksjoner kan possessiven enten stå foran eller etter sub-stantivet. Når enspråklige norske barn tilegner seg disse strukturene, foretrekker de først den foranstilte possessiven, selv om denne er mye mindre frekvent enn den ette...
Article
Two subject positions are identified in main and embedded clauses in Norwegian, appearing above or below negation and certain adverbs, and a similar situation is attested in the history of English. This paper investigates the distribution of subject types across several corpora of spoken Norwegian, produced by both adults and children. The frequenc...