This article is a direct collaboration between three AThEME partners (the University of Verona, the French National Centre for Scientific Research CNRS-IKER and Utrecht University). It consists of three case studies based on three geographic areas, each investigating a specific grammar change phenomenon in which multilingual competence plays a key role: (i) Friesland, The Netherlands (ii) the Region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and (iii) the Basque Country.

Researchers found that grammar change results from interaction of the feature systems of the languages in contact. Specifically, Frisian verbs take over features from the Dutch language, and Cimbrian, a Germanic minority language, takes over characteristics of subordinating conjunctions found in surrounding Romance languages. These two cases illustrate a minority language taking over features from a majority language. The reverse also happens: a majority language taking over features from a minority language, as the researchers found in Spanish interrogative constructions produced by certain Basque-Spanish bilingual speakers. In particular, Basque “interrogative characteristics” have been found in Spanish interrogative sentences produced by bilingual speakers.

These finding are important in that they underline the bilateral nature of linguistic relations and the interconnectivity between the speakers by means of taking over aspects from each other’s language.

Minority languages in language contact situations: three case studies on language change (Nov 2016)


This article is also published in the journal ‘Us Wurk’:

  • Padovan, Andrea; Alessandra, Tomaselli; Bergstra, Myrthe; Corver, Norbert; Etxepare, Ricardo; Dold, SimonMinority languages in language contact situations: three case studies on language change Us Wurk, vol. Jiergong 65 (2016), n. jefte 3-42016pp. 146-174