September 30, 2008
This article examines informal conversations showing codeswitching and convergence in the speech of bilingual or trilingual adolescents in the Danish-German border region. Discussion emphasizes the types of convergence that often happen in the verb phrase. Semantic changes in surface level elements of one language under the influence of abstract level semantics in another language are most frequent. Earlier studies on language contact have often concentrated their discussions on such changes. In contrast, this article focuses on changes that have been less often recognized as even possible, changes at the levels of predicate-argument structure. For example, a main verb in German occurs in a string of morphemes all, or almost all, from German, but the thematic roles (i.e., how the roles are realized on the surface) or other aspects of sub-categorization that this verb determines are based on the abstract structure of Danish. Thus, this article demonstrates that predicate-argument structure is less rigid when languages are in contact than generally assumed.