The locus of linguistic variation
  • ISSN 2211-6834
  • E-ISSN: 2211-6842
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This paper integrates aspects of both generative theory and variationist sociolinguistics. To compare the structure of two varieties of French (Acadian French and Laurentian French), I adapt the comparative sociolinguistics approach to compare the syntactic structure of these varieties. Specifically, I focus on the effects of across multiple sociolinguistic variables. I argue that such a comparison provides insights into the underlying grammatical structures of the varieties under comparison, differences that may have remained hidden otherwise. To illustrate the approach, I focus on a single constraint, sentential polarity, and I analyze its effects on two sociolinguistic variables, yes/no questions and future temporal reference. Results show that the polarity constraint is operative in Laurentian French for both variables, but inoperative in Acadian French. To account for this difference, I argue that Laurentian French negative structures involve a negative head above the tense phrase while Acadian French does not.


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