This paper presents an empirical study of grammatical gender and declension class in 47 second language learners of Norwegian in the spoken corpus NorInt Tale. The aim is to investigate to what extent the learners have gender as a part of their L2 competence. The results show that even though the speakers have a high proportion of targetlike structures overall, these numbers hide a considerably lower targetlikeness with neuter nouns. This is especially prominent with indefinite articles and prenominal possessives, where the common gender form is extensively overgeneralized. In accordance with studies of L1 acquisition (e.g., Rodina & Westergaard, 2015; Busterud et al., 2019) and heritage speakers (Lohndal & Westergaard, 2016), declension class, represented by the definite suffix and postnominal possessives, are found to be easier to acquire than gender in L2 Norwegian as well. Complex structures, such as modified definite noun phrases and demonstratives, are less target-like, most likely because they require the integration of different types of information at the same time. These results also yield an asymmetry between common gender and neuter.


I am a Professor of Linguistics at the Department of Language and Culture at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway.  My research interests include first, second, third and multilingual acquisition, and language attrition/heritage languages. I have worked on a wide variety of linguistic phenomena, including DP structure (determiners, double definiteness, possessives and gender), and structures exhibiting word order variation (dative alternation, subject shift, object shift and possessives), but also word order in general (V2, residual V2). I am interested in what determines the choice of word order when variation is permitted and how this is acquired by children, L2 and L3 learners, and how it is maintained in heritage language. Most of my research has been on Norwegian, but I have also worked on English, Russian, Spanish, and Ukrainian. A lot of my work on multilinguals has focused on how structural similarity may result in crosslinguistic influence, and how it may be a factor not only in language acquisition but also in heritage languages and language attrition.