Forthcoming: Formal approaches to complexity in heritage language grammars

Maria Polinsky   Michael T. Putnam  


This collective volume breaks new ground in studies of linguistic complexity by addressing this phenomenon in heritage languages. It dismisses with the conception that heritage languages are less complex than their baseline or homeland counterparts and shows complexity trade-offs at various levels of linguistic representation. The authors consider defining properties of complexity as a phenomenon, diagnostics of complexity, and the ways complexity is modeled, measured, or operationalized in language sciences. The chapters showcase several bilingual dyads and offer new empirical data on heritage language production and use.


  • Linguistic complexity in heritage languages
    An introduction
    Maria Polinsky, Michael T. Putnam, Joe Salmons
  • Expressing diminutive meaning in Twi
    The role of complexity and language-specific preferences
    Felix Kpogo, Alexandra Elizabeth Kohut, Charles Chang
  • How different types of complexity can account for difficult structures in bilingual and monolingual language acquisition
    Esther Rinke, Cristina Flores, Jacopo Torregrossa
  • The complexity of word order change in a flexible system
    On stability and variation in heritage Russian word order
    Oksana Laleko
  • Expanding structures while reducing mappings
    Morphosyntactic complexity in agglutinating heritage languages
    Terje Lohndal, Michael T. Putnam
  • A multi-generational analysis of heritage language complexity
    Ashvini Varatharaj, Gregory Scontras, Naomi Nagy
  • Non-monotonic functional sequences
    A new metric for complexity in heritage languages
    Roberta D'Alessandro, Silvia Terenghi


Maria Polinsky

Maria Polinsky is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Maryland, College Park and Director of the National Heritage Research Center at UCLA. She is the founder and Director of several research field stations. Polinsky’s research combines theoretical syntactic work with in-depth investigation of understudied languages. She also has an active research program in heritage languages. She edited several handbooks including the Cambridge Handbook of Heritage Languages and Linguistics (2021), and she is the author of over a hundred scholarly articles and several books including Deconstructing Ergativity (2016) and Heritage Languages and Their Speakers (2018).

Michael T. Putnam

Michael T. Putnam is Professor of German & Linguistics at Penn State University and Visiting Professor of Linguistics at the University of Greenwich. Putnam’s research focuses on the structure of Germanic languages past and present, from both formal and experimental perspectives. He has a particular interest in the diasporic varieties of Germanic languages and issues related to bi/multilingualism more generally. He has edited several volumes and books, including the Cambridge Handbook of Germanic Linguistics (2020) (with B. Richard Page), and has authored dozens of other scholarly articles and books, such as The Structural Design of Language (2013) (with Thomas S. Stroik) and Unbounded Dependency Constructions: Theoretical and Experimental Perspectives (2021) (with Rui P. Chaves).

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March 24, 2023
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Polinsky, Maria & Putnam, Michael T. (eds.). Forthcoming. Formal approaches to complexity in heritage language grammars. (Current Issues in Bilingualism). Berlin: Language Science Press.


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