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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
  • Negative Concord in English
    • Author: Frances Blanchette
    • Source: Linguistic Variation, Volume 13, Issue 1, 2013, pages: 1 –47
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    • This paper argues that Negative Concord is generated by the grammars of all English varieties, but just not “realized” in the standardized variety, in the sense of Barbiers (2005, 2009). I show that Double Negation constructions, wherein two negative elements yield a doubly negated meaning, are formed identically by English varieties that realize Negative Concord and those that do not. Unlike previous Minimalist Agree approaches to English Negative Concord, this proposal accounts for the fact that English varieties generate both Double Negation and Negative Concord constructions. This paper employs Tortora’s (2009, in press) mechanism of feature spreading, and López’s (2009) derivational assignment of the pragmatic feature [contrast], to successfully capture the facts of Negative Concord and Double Negation in English. In so doing, it contributes insight into the representation of sentential negation, and supports the Barbiersian notion that not all grammatical structures are realized in a given variety.
  • 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
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