Variable Properties in Language

Variable Properties in Language : Their Nature and Acquisition

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This edited volume, based on papers presented at the 2017 Georgetown University Round Table on Language and Linguistics (GURT), approaches the study of language variation from a variety of angles. Language variation research asks broad questions such as, "Why are languages' grammatical structures different from one another?" as well as more specific word-level questions such as, "Why are words that are pronounced differently still recognized to be the same words?" Too often, research on variation has been siloed based on the particular question-sociolinguists do not talk to historical linguists, who do not talk to phoneticians, and so on. This edited volume seeks to bring discussions from different subfields of linguistics together to explore language variation in a broader sense and acknowledge the complexity and interwoven nature of variation itself.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 12.7mm | 340g
  • Washington, DC, United States
  • English
  • 47 Figures; 24 Tables, unspecified
  • 1626166641
  • 9781626166646

Table of contents



1. Re-thinking variable properties in language: IntroductionDavid W. Lightfoot and Jonathan Havenhill

2. Contrastive feature hierarchies in phonology: Variation and universalityB. Elan Dresher

3. Scope variation in contrastive hierarchies of morphosyntactic featuresElizabeth Cowper and Daniel Currie Hall

4. Allophonic systems as a variable within individual speakersBetsy Sneller

5. A label theoretic explanation of the resultative parameterDaniel Milway

6. Adverbial -s: so awks but so natural!Norbert Corver

7. The acquisition of English article alternations: Variation, competition, and the defaultMarjorie Pak

8. Verb second word order in Norwegian heritage language: Syntax and pragmaticsMarit Westergaard and Terje Lohndal

9. Acquisition of morphosyntax: A pattern learning approachHeidi Getz

10. How to be faithful to the input in a situation of language contactAlicia Avellana, Lucia Brandani, Hannah Forsythe, and Cristina Schmitt

11. Variation and mental representationGregory Guy

12. Variation and competing I-languages in creole genesis: A synchronic and diachronic viewMarlyse Baptista

13. Transmission revisited Gillian Sankoff

14. The value of small communities in a big data world: Investigating Smith Island English in real and apparent timeNatalie Schilling

15. All zeros are not equal in African American EnglishLisa Green

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Review quote

In 1972, Georgetown University held the first meeting of New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV) where formal and quantitative linguists convened to study language variation and change. Years of divergence followed but in the 45th anniversary year of NWAV, Georgetown was again the site of connection, with the focus on language acquisition: equipped with the structural constraints on language and the general principles of learning, how do children cope with the inherently variable data especially in the situation of variation and change? The contributors include leading experts in our discipline and more importantly, promising young researchers who now synthesize results and methods from previously disjointed research traditions. This collection of outstanding scholarly work will set the agenda for the integrated study of language in the years to come. -- Charles Yang, Professor of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania
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About David W. Lightfoot

David W. Lightfoot is Professor of Linguistics and Director of the Communication, Culture & Technology program at Georgetown University. He is also Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Concentration in Cognitive Science.

Jonathan Havenhill received his PhD in Theoretical Linguistics from Georgetown University in 2018. He is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong.
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