An empirical L2 perspective on possessives: German/Norwegian


  • Anneliese Pauline Pitz ILOS, University of Oslo
  • Oliver Bott
  • Torgrim Solstad
  • Robin Hörnig
  • Bergljot Behrens
  • Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen ILOS, University of Oslo



The present paper reports on two empirical studies concerning the acquisition of possessive systems by L2 learners of Norwegian and German respectively. The first study investigates comprehension and production in written translation while the second study is a set of offline experiments testing the interpretation of possessives by both native speakers and German learners of Norwegian. Norwegian distinguishes between reflexive and irreflexive possessives, while German does not. The reflexive stem form si* is phonologically similar to German sein*, but may correspond to ihr*, a feminine or plural possessor, as well. These differences make the acquisition of Norwegian and of German as a foreign language a complex procedure of restructuring both at the phonological and the grammatical level. Results of the study indicate that the only partly overlapping forms and structural constraints on possessives in the two languages are cognitively demanding in L2 acquisition and subject to transfer effects.