ERIC Number: ED250939
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1981-Jun
Reference Count: N/A
On the Problem of Syntactic Variation: A Reply to Beatriz Lavandera and William Labov. Sociolinguistic Working Paper Number 82.
In view of the apparent successes achieved with Labovian quantitative methods in the analysis of phonological variation, it is not surprising to find these techniques being extended to include the study of syntax. Sankoff suggests that the extension of probabilistic considerations from phonology to syntax is not a conceptually difficult jump. However, this optimism is premature. An analogous view of syntactic variation is incoherent; what is meant by the notion of syntactic variation is a moot point. No sociolinguistic or syntactic theory exists that is sufficiently well articulated and restricted to deal with the problem of variation in syntax. The most serious issue raised by the problem of syntactic variation concerns the kind of semantic/pragmatic theory on which the foundations of an integrative sociolinguistic theory should be based. Possible approaches to accounting for this variation include seeing the form of grammatical structure through the relationship between (1) the logical structure of utterances and surface syntactic form; (2) perceptual processing and syntactic process; or (3) conversational organization/interaction and syntactic structure. The third approach has the advantage of allowing a perspective on variation in acquisitional and post-creole continua as well as on both diachronic and synchronic variation. (Author/MSE)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Southwest Educational Development Lab., Austin, TX.