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Linguistic Variation

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ISSN 2211-6834
E-ISSN 2211-6842

<p><em>Linguistic Variation</em> (LV) is an international, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the theoretical study of linguistic variation. It seeks to investigate to what extent the study of linguistic variation can shed light on the broader issue of language-particular versus language-universal properties, on the interaction between what is fixed and necessary on the one hand and what is variable and contingent on the other. This enterprise involves properly defining and delineating the notion of linguistic variation, identifying possible loci of variation, investigating what the variable properties of natural language reveal about its underlying invariant core, and conversely, exploring the range and type of variation that arises from the interaction between several invariant principles.</p><p>Empirically, these issues can be investigated on the level of both intra- and interlinguistic differences, of closely related languages (microvariation, dialectology) and larger typological groups (macrovariation). Theoretically, these questions can be addressed from the point of view of syntax, morphology, phonology, phonetics, acquisition, psycholinguistics and semantics.</p><p><em>Linguistic Variation</em> aims to provide a forum for the discussion of these and related topics. It welcomes both empirically and theoretically oriented papers that further our understanding of linguistic variation by relating patterns of variation to the organization of the language faculty.</p><p>Volumes 1 (2001) - 10 (2010) appeared under the title <a href="/catalog/livy"><em>Linguistic Variation Yearbook</em></a> (ISSN 1568-1483; E-ISSN 1569-9900)</p>


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  • (Non-)intervention in A-movement: Some cross-constructional and cross-linguistic considerations
    • Author: Jeremy Hartman
    • Source: Linguistic Variation, Volume 11, Issue 2, 2011, pages: 121 –148
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    • This article explores ‘defective intervention’ effects in a range of A-movement constructions in English. Moving beyond an old observation that English lacks intervention in standard subject-to-subject raising constructions, I present new data showing that English does in fact display intervention in a variety of other NP-raising contexts. I explore the consequences of this expanded data set, and propose an account of intervention that aims to capture both the cross-linguistic variation between English and other languages, and the cross-constructional variation within English. Keywords: intervention; raising; tough-movement; raising-to-object; passivization; PP-reanalysis; parallel movement; reconstruction; A-movement
  • The role of case in A-bar extraction asymmetries: Evidence from Mayan
    • Authors: Jessica Coon, Pedro Mateo Pedro, and Omer Preminger
    • Source: Linguistic Variation, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2014, pages: 179 –242
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    • Many morphologically ergative languages display asymmetries in the extraction of core arguments: while absolutive arguments (transitive objects and intransitive subjects) extract freely, ergative arguments (transitive subjects) cannot. This falls under the label “syntactic ergativity” (see, e.g. Dixon 1972, 1994; Manning 1996; Polinsky to appear(b)). These extraction asymmetries are found in many languages of the Mayan family, where in order to extract transitive subjects (for focus, questions, or relativization), a special construction known as the “Agent Focus” (AF) must be used. These AF constructions have been described as syntactically and semantically transitive because they contain two non-oblique DP arguments, but morphologically intransitive because the verb appears with only a single agreement marker and takes an intransitive status suffix (Aissen 1999; Stiebels 2006). In this paper we offer a proposal for (i) why some morphologically ergative languages exhibit extraction asymmetries, while others do not; and (ii) how the AF construction in Q’anjob’al circumvents this problem. We adopt recent accounts which argue that ergative languages vary in the locus of absolutive case assignment (Aldridge 2004, 2008a; Legate 2002, 2008), and propose that this variation is present within the Mayan family. Based primarily on comparative data from Q’anjob’al and Chol, we argue that the inability to extract ergative arguments does not reflect a problem with properties of the ergative subject itself, but rather reflects locality properties of absolutive case assignment in the clause. We show how the AF morpheme -on circumvents this problem in Q’anjob’al by assigning case to internal arguments.
  • The influence of community on language structure: Evidence from two young sign languages
    • Authors: Irit Meir, Assaf Israel, Wendy Sandler, Carol A. Padden, and Mark Aronoff
    • Source: Linguistic Variation, Volume 12, Issue 2, 2012, pages: 247 –291
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    • By comparing two sign languages of approximately the same age but which arose and developed under different social circumstances, we are able to identify possible relationships between social factors and language structure. We argue that two structural properties of these languages are related to the size and the heterogeneity versus homogeneity of their respective communities: use of space in grammatical structure and degree of lexical and sublexical variability. A third characteristic, the tendency toward single-argument clauses appears to be a function of a different social factor: language age. Our study supports the view that language is not just a structure in the brain, nor is it strictly the domain of the individual. It is very much a socio-cultural artifact. Keywords: community and language structure; sign languages; ISL; ABSL; variation; space; argument structure
  • Crosslinguistic and experimental evidence for non-number plurals*
    • Author: Lindsay Kay Butler
    • Source: Linguistic Variation, Volume 12, Issue 1, 2012, pages: 27 –56
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    • In this paper, I find support for the idea that plural marking shows variation across languages but can still be captured in a universal syntax (Wiltschko 2008, 2011). The proposal that the plural morpheme heads the Number Phrase (Ritter 1991; Bernstein 1991; Valois 1991; inter alia) is not adequate to account for plural marking in all languages. Wiltschko (2008) proposed that plurals may merge either as heads or adjuncts to various projections along the spine of the Determiner Phrase (DP, NumP, nP and the root). I provide syntactic, semantic and experimental evidence that the plural morpheme in Yucatec Maya is adjoined to the DP. I highlight evidence from other language types for variation in the syntax of plural marking, and I discuss how this variation might be constrained in particular ways. The implication of these findings is that identity of function does not imply identical syntax or semantics. Keywords: plural marking; Number Phrase; Determiner Phrase; Yucatec Maya; sentence production; morphosyntactic priming
  • Reducing ‘case’ to denotational primitives: Nominal inflections in Albanian
    • Authors: Rita Manzini, and Leonardo M. Savoia
    • Source: Linguistic Variation, Volume 11, Issue 1, 2011, pages: 76 –120
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    • The nominal inflection system of Albanian includes specifications of case, definiteness, number and nominal class (gender). Our analysis recognizes three types of properties as theoretically relevant, namely N(ominal class), Q(quantification), D(efiniteness). Q inflections are responsible for the so-called oblique case - effectively a dyadic operator yielding a ‘zonal inclusion’ (possession) relation between the element to which it attaches and the internal argument of the verb (dative) or the head of a noun phrase (genitive). Q inflections are further responsible for plurality, while N inflections satisfy argument-of contexts (accusative)and D characterizes EPP contexts(nominative). Syncretisms (e.g. of dative and genitive, nominative and accusative) are not the result of morphological rules requiring Late Insertion of exponents (Distributed Morphology). Rather they are instances of ambiguity, resolved in the syntax (different embeddings) or at the interpretive interface. As such they are compatible with projection of the morphosyntax from lexical entries. Keywords: Case, nominative, accusative, oblique, syncretism, nominal class, plural, definiteness, possessor, locative.
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