American Norwegian discourse marking: Convergence, detachability, pragmatic change


  • Laura Moquin University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • Joseph Salmons University of Wisconsin – Madison



This paper provides a first picture of discourse marking in American Norwegian, drawing on word order data and native speaker judgments. Like many others since Salmons (1990), we see convergence between the systems of bilinguals, increasing similarities at the expense of differences. Matras (1988) and Fuller (2001) argue that more ‘pragmatically detachable’ material is more easily borrowed, like well / vel vs. you know / vet du. Our results partially align with this expectation, but with a wrinkle: less pragmatically detachable material appears to be borrowed where the two languages have similar pre-existing markers (namely vet du / you know). We find more convergence, regardless of detachability, at points of similarity than of difference (e.g. English anyhow, which has no close Norwegian parallel.) This suggests that convergence may play the bigger role here, so that less detachable forms may be more borrowable in converging systems.