2019 Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain

Queen Mary University of London, 9-12 September 2019

Workshop:  Trends in Formal Approaches to Variation

For some time now there have been concerted efforts to bridge generative approaches to language with sociolinguistically informed usage-based models of language variation and change. It is generally acknowledged that generative and sociolinguistic approaches to variation can be complementary (e.g. Barbiers 2005:235; Coetzee & Pater 2011:403). Indeed, there have been notable advances at this interface, in terms of addressing, for instance: the role of style in constraint-based frameworks such as stochastic OT; syntactic variation and change; acquisition of variation as grounded in Principles and Parameters; and formal understandings of well-known empirical challenges in sociolinguistic theory (e.g. Boersma & Hayes 2001; Cornips & Corrigan 2005; Cheshire et al. 2013; Yang 2016). However, the fields remain far apart in key areas. For instance, there remains little consensus on where the probabilistic factors that have been the focus of variable rule analysis in quantitative (Labovian) sociolinguistics interact with the type of grammar-generated variation that comes out of the Principles and Parameters tradition (cf. Adger 2006; Bresnan et al. 2007). We therefore bring together in this workshop scholars working on these and other traditional problems with reference to recent theoretical and methodological innovations, at various levels of linguistic description.

Invited speakers: 

Evelina Leivada (UiT The Arctic University of Norway) — Putting parametric variation to the test: On computational and sociolinguistic considerations

Danielle Turton (Lancaster) T-lenition processes in British English: Differences in regional and contextual variability

Heather Burnett (CNRS, Paris) Social stratification as semantic microvariation: Negation and negative concord in Gallo-Romance dialects

David Hall, James Brookes, Jenny Cheshire & David Adger (QMUL) Causal interrogative variation in multicultural and traditional varieties of London English

Betsy Sneller (Georgetown) Phonological change via probabilistic variation

Lauren Fonteyn (Leiden) Doing (of) your own thing: A quantitative analysis of syntactic variation and idiolect in Late Modern English

Becky Woods (Newcastle) & Robyn Orfitelli (Sheffield) Is this a question? AuxSVO order in a monolingual English-acquiring child and the role of input


Adger, David. 2006. ‘Combinatorial variability’, Journal of Linguistics 42(3): 503–530.

Barbiers, Sjef. 2005. Word order variation in three verb-second clusters and the division of labour between generative linguistics and sociolinguistics. In: Leonie Cornips and Karen Corrigan (eds.), Syntax and Variation: Reconciling the Biological and the Social. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Boersma, Paul & Bruce Hayes. 2001. 'Empirical tests of the gradual learning algorithm', Linguistic Inquiry 32(1). 45-86. 

Bresnan, Joan, Deo, Ashwini & Devyani Sharma. 2007. ‘Typology in variation: A probabilistic approach to be and n’t in the Survey of English Dialects’, English Language and Linguistics 11: 301–346.

Cheshire, Jenny, Adger, David & Sue Fox. 2013. ‘Relative who and the actuation problem’, Lingua 126: 51–77.

Coetzee, Andrew & Joe Pater. 2011. The place of variation in phonological theory. Handbook of Phonological Theory. 2nd Ed. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Cornips, Leonie & Karen Corrigan (eds.). 2005. Syntax and Variation: Reconciling the Biological and the Social. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Yang, Charles. 2016. The Price of Linguistic Productivity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software