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New Ways of Analysing Syntactic Variation New Ways of Analysing Syntactic Variation ICLaVE 4 University of Cyprus, Nicosia 19-06-2007 Leonie Cornips (Meertens.

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Presentation on theme: "New Ways of Analysing Syntactic Variation New Ways of Analysing Syntactic Variation ICLaVE 4 University of Cyprus, Nicosia 19-06-2007 Leonie Cornips (Meertens."— Presentation transcript:

1 New Ways of Analysing Syntactic Variation New Ways of Analysing Syntactic Variation ICLaVE 4 University of Cyprus, Nicosia Leonie Cornips (Meertens Institute, KNAW) Karen Corrigan (Newcastle University)

2 (1) Review the manner in which morphosyntactic variation is treated by Variationists and Generativists; (2) Develop Wilson and Henry (1998), i.e. combining insights from both models can: (a.) enhance our understanding of the mechanisms of linguistic variation and change and (b.) provide new sources of evidence on which analyses within the generative programme of Chomsky (1995) inter alia can be built. (3) To put forward the assumption that interface levels constitute the locus of social, morphosyntactic variation and to propose a modular approach for an integrated theory of syntactic variation (Cornips & Corrigan 2005). Introduction: Aims

3 (1)Points of Congruence: Characterisation of variation Locus of Variation (2)Points of Difference: Data Methods Analyses Interpretation Introduction: Variationists vs. Generativists

4 Variationists vs. Generativists

5 Summary of Major Differences [After Cornips & Corrigan 2005a/b] Variationists: Speaker representativeness; Controlled recordings; Collection of substantial quantities of data; ‘Community’ grammars. Generativists: Native-speaker introspection; ‘Individual’ grammars.

6 Summary of Major Differences [After Cornips & Corrigan 2005a/b] Variationists: Ascertain the significance of inherent variability for a range of socio-cultural correlates with respect to ‘community’ grammars. Generativists: Delimit the set of possible languages and discover the universal constraints by which all ‘individual’ grammars are bound.

7 Examples of Major Differences: Generativist (1) A good machine clipper could1 do2 it in half a day. [Standard English Variant] (2)A good machine clipper would1 could2 do3 it in half a day. [Beal 1993: 194: Rural Northumberland Variant (preferred)] (3)A good machine clipper could2 would1 do3 it in half a day. [Rural Northumberland Variant (dispreferred)]

8 Examples of Major Differences: Generativist The six possible word orders in the verbal cluster MOD-MOD-V inf. a. Ik weet dat Janhard moet1 kunnen2 werken I know that Janhard mustcan inf work inf b. Ik weet dat Jan hard moet1 werken3 kunnen c. Ik weet dat Jan hard kunnen2 moet1 werken d. Ik weet dat Jan hard kunnen2 werken3 moet e. Ik weet dat Jan hard werken3 kunnen2 moet f. Ik weet dat Jan hard werken3 moet1 kunnen

9 Examples of Major Differences: Variationist [After Mishoe & Montgomery 1994: 4]

10

11 Social Stratification of AUX-PAST + PARTICIPLE in Heerlen Dutch (cf. Cornips 2006)

12 Corpus-Based Approach: Problems Variants not attested in all possible syntactic environments: (1a) A good machine clipper would1 could2 do3 it in half a day. [Beal 1993: 194: Rural Northumberland Corpus] (1b) ??Would1 could2 a good machine clipper do3 it in half a day? Infrequent data (1 token in 33.5 hours of recording): (2)Hetrijdtzichgemakkelijkermetdetrein ‘ittravelsrefl.easier by (the)train’ (Cornips & Corrigan 2005)

13 Speaker Judgements: Problems (cf. Cornips & Poletto 2005) Different ratings/intuitions for identical variants generated by different methodologies; Different ratings/intuitions in different contexts (different interpretations); Different ratings/intuitions reflecting different social evaluation/attitudes (prescriptive judgements).

14 Different Methodologies = ‘Different’ Judgements Three-verb cluster in Heerlen‘moet hebben gemaakt’ ‘must have repaired’ (n=42): Spontaneous SpeechElicitation Heerlen DutchHeerlen dialect order 132: n=2969%YES n=1 embedded clause n=28 V2-embedded 3-2 order 312:n=12.4% YES n=1 embedded clause order 123: n= % but NOT COMMON n=12 V2- embedded embedded

15 Judgements are affected by prescriptive evaluations (cf. Cornips 1996, 2002) (12: Bert) a.moet ik terugkomen om dat (...) af te maken 'I must come back in order to finish that half year’ b.je komt hier voor te studeren 'You will come here in order to study' 25 out of 67 (37%) speakers display a deviant test output in comparison with their spontaneous speech. n=12 (48%): non-standard variant occurs in spontaneous speech but is replaced by standard variant in elicitation tasks.

16 Different Methodologies = ‘Different’ Judgements (cf. Auckle, Buchstaller, Corrigan & Holmberg 2007) MethodsVariables Spontaneous Conversation(1) Multiple Negation Spontaneous Conversation(1) Multiple Negation Direct Judgement Task(2) Subject Doubling Direct Judgement Task(2) Subject Doubling Indirect Judgement Task(3) Double Modals Indirect Judgement Task(3) Double Modals Pictorial Task* (4) Double Conjunctions Pictorial Task* (4) Double Conjunctions Magnitude Estimation(5) Verb Doubling Magnitude Estimation(5) Verb Doubling

17 PROBLEMATIC INTERPRETATION OF TASK 1. Pictorial Task Testing Subject Doubling: (10)Sue has cut my hair wonderfully, has Sue. Informants were asked to : (i) Look at the pictures on the left hand side of the questionnaire as the sentence is played; (ii) Read the sentence and decide whether it adequately describes the event in the picture; (iii) Answer questions about whether the sentence would be used by a local speaker; (iv) Provide alternatives for any sentences rated as ‘ungrammatical’. Does this sentence adequately describe the event in the picture? Yes / No Would you (or any local person) use this kind of sentence? Yes / No Could you give alternatives to the sentence above that describes the situation?

18 PROBLEMATIC INTERPRETATION OF TASK 1. Provide alternatives for any sentence rated *

19 A Solution: The ‘Modular’ Approach to Variability Be aware of data collection pitfalls and design studies that combine both spontaneous and elicited data; Adopt a ‘modular’ approach to data analysis as well as collection:

20 A Solution: The ‘Modular’ Approach to Variability Be aware of data collection pitfalls and design studies that combine both spontaneous and elicited data; Adopt a ‘modular’ approach to data analysis as well as collection:

21 A Solution: The ‘Modular’ Approach to Variability Interfaces and the sociolinguistic syntactic variable syntactically related syntactically remote ‘low level’ ‘high level’ ≠ interface level = interface level

22 The Problem: The Variable Rule Syntactic Variants of Sociolinguistic Variable Synonymy/functional equivalence is considered not so problematic for ‘low level’ variants: MORPHOSYNTAX Verbal Agreement (1)a.We parch it (cf. Poplack & Tagliamonte 1989:49) b.We parches the coffee Copula Variability as in African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) (Rickford et al. 1991) (2)a.I am just telling the boys(cf. Weldon 2003:43) b.I'm gonna get me a blue tag c.I feel like I Ø fourteen

23 The Problem: The Variable Rule Syntactic Variants of Sociolinguistic Variable Synonymy/functional equivalence is considered not so problematic for ‘low level’ variants: SYNTAX (3: Jansen) a.2-1dusdieeenbeetjelezenkunnen ‘thusthoseabit ofread inf can’ b.1-2diedat (...) redelijkkunnenopbrengen ‘thosethatresonablycan yield’ inf

24 The Problem: The Variable Rule Syntactic Variants of Sociolinguistic Variable Synonymy/functional equivalence is considered not so problematic for ‘low level’ variants: LEXICAL CHOICE (12: Bert) : a.moet ik terug komen om dat (...) af te maken 'I must come back in order to finish that half year’ b.je komt hier voor te studeren 'You will come here in order to study'

25 The Problem: The Variable Rule Syntactic Variants of Sociolinguistic Variable Synonymy/functional equivalence is problematic for ‘high level’ variants: ‘Principle of Synonymy’ “sameness of meaning” (Lavandera 1978; Romaine 1984, Sankoff 1988 and Winford 1996); “having the same truth value” (Labov 1972: 118)

26 The Problem: The Variable Rule 'Hot-News' after perfect in Irish-English: ‘high level’ variable conditioned by both syntactic and semantic/pragmatic constraints (Corrigan 1997:160): (1)One of the farls [soda bread portion] was after breaking Contexts where recency or completion is being signalled in Standard British English: (2)One of the farls had just broken but (1) and (2)  absolute functional equivalence as (1) is interpretable pragmatically as the universal perfect in Irish-English variants such as: (3)All the week is after being cold [Kallen (1991: 62)]

27 The Problem: The Variable Rule Habitual ‘doen’ in Heerlen Dutch: ‘high level’ variable conditioned by both syntactic and semantic/pragmatic constraints: a.een jongen(...)doetookvissen...(19: Cor) aboydoesalsofish inf... 'A boy (...) also fishes’ b.hijvistookweleens...(19: Cor) ‘hefishestoowellonce…’

28 What Else Makes a Modular Approach Necessary? [After Cornips & Corrigan 2005a/b]

29 The Modular Approach Helps To: Explain the range of syntactic variation encountered in natural languages (Muysken, Ch.2 accounts for the (over)use of the Spanish gerund amongst Quechua- Spanish bilinguals); Demonstrate how this feature interacts with the cognitive, interactional, semiotic and syntactic modules that are assumed to comprise our linguistic competence.

30 The Modular Approach Also Helps To: Account for language acquisition phenomena: features at the interface of syntax and discourse display ‘emerging’ variability (or ‘optionality’ in the terms of Sorace, Ch.3). Account for the operation of the interaction module: responsible for the use of prefabricated expressions and variants expressing affective meanings in spoken language. Only at this interface level, can a distinction be made between pragmatic variation (communicative intent) and syntactic variation (equivalent constructions) (cf. Cheshire, Ch.4).

31 Conclusion A Modular approach can provide an integrated theory of syntactic variation; A Modular approach suggests that the locus of VARIABLE phenomena is most likely to be where the syntax module is mapped to other domains and that it is in these areas where variation that has social meaning is located; Paying closer attention to modularity and interface levels will prove critical to enhancing our understanding of the locus of variation on which these issues hinge.


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