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German Research

"Emerging Grammars in Language Contact Situations: A Comparative Approach" (RUEG)

This Research Unit investigates the linguistic systems and resources of bilingual speakers from families with an immigrant history, or heritage speakers. We are interested in learning how heritage speakers use both of their languages in different situations.

We work with heritage speakers of Russian, Turkish, Greek, and German who live in the U.S., and heritage speakers of Russian, Turkish, and Greek who live in Germany. We also test monolingual speakers of all of those languages in their respective countries. Additionally, in the U.S., English monolinguals are included in the study. By comparing different languages and different language combinations in bilinguals, we expect to identify features that are unique to heritage speakers, maybe regardless of language combination.

We would like to see if those unique grammatical structures follow certain patterns, which would help us gain new insights into heritage languages, language learning, and human languages in general. As a result of our collaborative research, we hope to gain a better understanding of how a language can vary and evolve when in continuous contact with another one.

With this leaflet, we are inviting German heritage speakers to take part in our research study. Participants will be tested in two sessions, one in English and one in German. In each session, they will be asked to describe a short scene shown on video. They will be reimbursed with $45 after the completion of the second session. The sessions will be conducted about one week apart.

If you are interested in participating in our study, or know someone who might be, please review the criteria below. We are looking for participants who...

speak German with their parents at home and maybe also with friends

  • write in German

  • didn’t attend a full time German school

  • were born and raised in the U.S., or moved there before the age of 2

  • are 14-18 or 22-35 years old*

  • do not have a speaking or hearing problem

  • are available for testing in April, May, June 2019

    If you are unclear about whether you qualify, please do not hesitate to reach out to us!

    *If you are 1-2 years outside of these age ranges and would like to participate, we will do our best to still schedule a session for you.

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