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Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory

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Linguistic Proficiency: A Quantitative Approach to Immigrant and Heritage Speakers of Danish

Jan Heegård Petersen
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen, Emil Holms Kanal 2, Copenhagen, Denmark
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/ Gert Foget Hansen / Jacob Thøgersen / Karoline Kühl
Published Online: 2018-12-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2017-0088

Abstract

This paper presents a corpus-based quantitative study on linguistic proficiency of approx. 300 immigrant and heritage speakers of Danish in North America and Argentina, aiming at the question whether linguistic proficiency is connected to ‘immigrant generation’ (i.e. the difference between speakers who migrated as adults with a fully acquired language competence and foreign-born heritage speakers) or the sociocultural setting, or both. The large data base at hand provides a rare opportunity to compare developments within the same minority language in different places, representing different sociocultural settings for the immigrant or heritage speakers and, accordingly, different language ecologies. The study relies on the Corpus of American Danish (1.6 million tokens, including both words and non-word utterances). Based on this data set, the paper explores the distribution of 13 linguistic and non-linguistic variables representing linguistic proficiency (i.e. Danish words, L2 words, word-internal codeswitching, type-token ratio, empty and filled pauses, self-interruption, lengthening, speech rate, word length, runlength and the ratio of main and subclauses) by applying Factor Analysis as a statistical tool. On an empirically solid basis, the paper concludes that (a) the sociolinguistic setting is the crucial factor in the development of linguistic proficiency and (b) linguistic proficiency is a non-universal cognitive phenomenon.

Keywords: language attrition; heritage language; factor analysis; fluency; speech rate

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About the article

Jan Heegård Petersen

Jan Heegård Petersen, Gert Foget Hansen, Jacob Thøgersen and Karoline Kühl are affiliated with the Department of Nordic Languages and Lingustics at the University of Copenhagen. All authors have published research on spoken language, and Jan Heegård Petersen, Gert Foget Hansen and Karoline Kühl have for the past four years done research in Danish as an immigrant and heritage language.

Gert Foget Hansen

Jan Heegård Petersen, Gert Foget Hansen, Jacob Thøgersen and Karoline Kühl are affiliated with the Department of Nordic Languages and Lingustics at the University of Copenhagen. All authors have published research on spoken language, and Jan Heegård Petersen, Gert Foget Hansen and Karoline Kühl have for the past four years done research in Danish as an immigrant and heritage language.

Jacob Thøgersen

Jan Heegård Petersen, Gert Foget Hansen, Jacob Thøgersen and Karoline Kühl are affiliated with the Department of Nordic Languages and Lingustics at the University of Copenhagen. All authors have published research on spoken language, and Jan Heegård Petersen, Gert Foget Hansen and Karoline Kühl have for the past four years done research in Danish as an immigrant and heritage language.

Karoline Kühl

Jan Heegård Petersen, Gert Foget Hansen, Jacob Thøgersen and Karoline Kühl are affiliated with the Department of Nordic Languages and Lingustics at the University of Copenhagen. All authors have published research on spoken language, and Jan Heegård Petersen, Gert Foget Hansen and Karoline Kühl have for the past four years done research in Danish as an immigrant and heritage language.


Published Online: 2018-12-18


Citation Information: Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, ISSN (Online) 1613-7035, ISSN (Print) 1613-7027, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2017-0088.

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