STUDY QUESTIONS – DAY 1

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V Variation matters!
Prof Dr. Bernd Kortmann
STUDY QUESTIONS – DAY 1
BASIC:
Have a close look at the examples in the handout "Some first data" and
a)
identify and group the individual phenomena,
b)
identify similarities and differences between these data and the grammar(s) of the standard
and individual non-standard varieties of your native language.
Kortmann, Bernd. 2003. "Comparative English dialect grammar: A typological approach." In: I. M. Palacios,
M. J. López Couso, P. Fra and E. Seoane, eds. Fifty Years of English Studies in Spain (1952:2002). A
Commemorative Volume. Santiago de Compostela: University of Santiago. 63-81.
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What is understood by comparative dialect grammar?
What does it mean to adopt a typological perspective in the study of dialect grammar?
What kind of material constitutes FRED, and what kind of morphosyntactic phenomena does it allow
to study particularly well?
Give three examples of morphosyntactic features which are highly regionally restricted in the British
Isles.
What is understood by the Northern Subject Rule?
What is interesting about dialects of English from the point of view of the Accessibility Hierarchy?
Discuss negation in English dialects from the following points of view: a) areal distribution, b)
consistency, c) analyticity.
What seems to be a striking tendency in English dialects with regard to subject-verb agreement?
Give examples which support the claim that in a number of domains of grammar non-standard dialects
of English exhibit a higher degree of regularization than Standard English.
Kortmann, B. 2002. "New prospects for the study of English dialect syntax: Impetus from syntactic theory
and language typology." In: S. Barbiers/L. Cornips/S. van der Kleij, eds. Syntactic Microvariation.
Amsterdam. 185-213.
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What makes the SW of England a particularly interesting dialect area to study? Which
morphosyntactic features found there do you find most fascinating?
What is understood by gender diffusion here? Is it a typologically widespread phenomenon?
Comment on the functional interpretation Anderwald (2002) offers for the remorphologization of the
was-were distinction.
Comment on the three quotations of Kayne, Henry, and Benincá on what the study of
microparameters has to offer to syntactic theory.
Do you agree with the author on the problems Chomsky's (1995) account of the do-insertion rule runs
into?
Barbiers S./L. Cornips. 2002. "Introduction to syntactic microvariation." In: S. Barbiers/L. Cornips/S. van
der Kleij, eds. Syntactic Microvariation. Amsterdam. 1-12.
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What are shared goals of the study of syntactic microvariation from a typological and generative point
of view?
What are some well-known problems of oral and written elicitation of data respectively?
In which crucial ways do the methodologies of the Zurich and the Freiburg projects on Swiss German
and English dialects, respectively, differ?
In which European countries did a major interest in the study of dialect syntax arise first, and what are
possible reasons for that? (cf. also Kortmann 2002)
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V Variation matters!
Bernd Kortmann
Kortmann, B. in preparation. "Areal variation in syntax." In: Schmidt, J.E./P. Auer, eds. Language and
Space: Theory and Methods. [Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science]. Berlin/New
York: Mouton de Gruyter.
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Identify and discuss the major facets of integrated approaches to the study of dialect syntax.
Sketch the most important methods currently applied in dialect syntactic research.
Give at least one example each of large-scale and small-scale variation in European dialects.
Which (combinations of) properties characterize transition zones in dialect areas identified on the
basis of dialect-syntactic phenomena?
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V Variation matters!
Bernd Kortmann
STUDY QUESTIONS – DAY 2
Bisang, W. 2004. "Dialectology and typology – An integrative perspective." In: B. Kortmann, ed.
Dialectology Meets Typology: Dialect Grammar from a Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Berlin/New
York: Mouton de Gruyter. 11-45.
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What does Croft understand by integrative functionalism, and what is the significance of this approach
for Bisang's article?
Contrast dialectology and typology with regard to
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the domains of variability,
sources of linguistic data,
methods of analysis,
results (and their formulation).
Feel free to add on to and criticize Bisang's views on these points.
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In what way may dialectology complement typology in a useful way when trying to determine the
probability that a language shifts from one type to another type within a given period of time?
Which other ways of complementing each other does Bisang see for dialectology and typology?
What can typologists and variationists learn from the study of language contact?
What is your view on the following statement by Newmeyer (1998: 364)?
A more difficult foundational question is whether, given the current distribution of available
languages, any attainable typological generalization is of a level of significance to require
explanation by linguistic theory. Much of this chapter [Newmeyer’s chapter 6; W.B.] has been
devoted to casting doubt on the significance of the generalizations that have been achieved in
language typology. However, the best strategy is to assume, for want of evidence to the contrary,
that the more robust-seeming of them are valid and to pursue whatever combination of formal and
functional explanatory mechanisms seem appropriate to explaining them.
Haspelmath, M. 2001. "The European linguistic area: Standard Average European." In: M. Haspelmath et
al., eds. Language Typology and Language Universals. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 14921510.
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How does Haspelmath define a Europeanism? Do there exist phonological Europeanisms?
What is Haspelmath's preferred explanation for how SAE came into being? What, nevertheless, is
interesting about what he has to say on the role of Latin for negation and relative pronouns?
Which role do dialects play in this article, and which role did they play in the EUROTYP project, in
general?
Judge Haspelmath's top candidates for Europeanisms in light of what you happen to know about their
distribution in non-standard varieties of European languages.
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V Variation matters!
Bernd Kortmann
STUDY QUESTIONS – DAY 3
BASIC:
Have a close look at the set of 76 non-standard features of morphosyntax discussed in Kortmann (2006) and
Szmrecsanyi/Kortmann (to appear).
a) Provided you have a strong background in varieties of English and/or Pidgin and Creole studies:
which features would you like to see added to this catalogue?
b) Which features could be considered instances of doubling?
c) Try to classify the features in terms of simplification/complexification using your personal
understanding of what qualifies as simplification or complexification.
Chambers, Jack. 2004. "Dynamic typology and vernacular universals." In: B. Kortmann, ed. Dialectology
Meets Typology: Dialect Grammar from a Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Berlin/New York: Mouton
de Gruyter. 127-145.
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What are default singulars and which role do they play in Chambers' line of argumentation?
Comment on the following passages, in general, and in light of Szmrecsanyi/Kortmann (to appear), in
particular:
I have listed the vernacular universals with their English names and illustrated them with English
examples. This is misleading. In so far as these processes arise naturally in pidgins, child language,
vernaculars, and elsewhere, they are primitive features, not learned. As such, they belong to the
language faculty, the innate set of rules and representations that are the natural inheritance of every
human being. They cannot be merely English. They must have counterparts in the other languages of
the world that are demonstrably the outgrowths of the same rules and representations in the
bioprogram. […]
Vernacular universals arise in the context of sociolinguistic dialectology as generalizations about
intralinguistic variation (so far mainly from English dialects) but their universal status is emerging from
analyses of putative crosslinguistic counterparts. The factors that underlie them have distinct cognitive
and functional aspects.
(Chambers 2004: 129f)
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Which role does the variety of English spoken on Tristan da Cunha play in Chambers' argumentation?
What is to be understood by "the dialect law of wordliness and speech"?
What are your views on the explanations of his "vernacular roots" Chambers offers in terms of
naturalness?
Kortmann, B. 2006. "Syntactic variation in English: A global perspective." In: B. Aarts/A. McMahon, eds.
Handbook of English Linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell. 603-624.
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What kinds of morphosyntactic features stand the best chances to spread from non-standard varieties to
the Standard English of the future?
Do you agree with the claims made here, and the assumptions underlying them? What is the situation in
the standard and non-standard varieties of your native language?
Do you agree with the claims made concerning the higher degrees of regularity and consistency in nonstandard varieties?
In which respects are non-standard varieties of English typologically more well-behaved than Standard
English, and which issues does it raise in language typology?
In which domain of grammar, in particular, do English dialects exhibit features reminiscent of
continental Scandinavian languages?
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V Variation matters!
Bernd Kortmann
Szmrecsanyi, B./B. Kortmann. forthcoming. "The morphosyntax of varieties of English worldwide: A
quantitative perspective." Special issue of Lingua.
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Describe and discuss the paper's empirical data base.
Summarize the analytical difference between vernacular UNIversals and vernacular ANGLOversals.
What, according to the study, are some good candidates for vernacular angloversals?
How do morphosyntactic complexity and analyticity relate to the distribution of non-standard features
in varieties of English?
What are some factors that predict, or do not seem to predict, similarities between varieties of English?
Kortmann, B./B. Szmrecsanyi. in preparation. "Parameters of morphosyntactic variation in world Englishes:
Prospects and limitations of searching for universals." In: Siemund, P. ed., Linguistic Universals and
Language Variation. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
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V Variation matters!
Bernd Kortmann
STUDY QUESTIONS – DAY 4
Henry, A. 2002. "Variation and syntactic theory." In: Chambers, J.K., Peter Trudgill, and Natalie SchillingEstes, eds., The Handbook of Language Variation and Change. Malden: Blackwell. 267-282.
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Which general problem for traditional accounts in syntactic theory does the high frequency of
presentational constructions like There’s three books on the table point to?
What is the author’s view on the competing grammars view of syntactic variation by Kroch and
other linguists working in a generative framework?
Should syntactic theory acknowledge the statistical frequency of variants, and how could it handle
frequency? How can variable rules be incorporated into the theory?
Are variable rules found in child language acquisition? What in particular was found for
constructions as in question 1? Which implications does/should this have for syntactic theory?
alternatively: Adger, D./G. Trousdale. to appear. "Variation in English syntax: theoretical implications."
English Language and Linguistics.
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“Over the past decade, Chomsky has been arguing for the idea that I-language is in certain respects
optimal and that it lacks optional operations.” What do the authors have to say on this?
Which reasons are given for the long-time neglect of syntactic variation in English?
What is said about methods of data collection?
What is understood by Adger’s Variation in Exponence, and do you see a connection with the article
by Szmrecsanyi (2005) below?
Try to summarize the different approaches to syntactic variation (inter-speaker and inherent)
different models of generativist syntactic theory take. Do the authors evaluate them?
Which role (and significance) do the authors attribute to usage-based models of syntactic variation?
Pietsch, L. 2005. The Grammar of Variation: Verbal Agreement in Northern Dialects of English. Tübingen:
Niemeyer. 28-44.
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What is understood by Stochastic Optimality Theory, and which problems does the author identify
for this approach?
Which approach does the author adopt instead? What are its basic tenets?
Outline the importance of constructions and the notion of entrenchment for the handling of speakerinternal (or: inherent) variation, in general, and of the Northern Subject Rule, in particular.
Szmrecsanyi, B. 2005. "Language users as creatures of habit: A corpus-linguistic analysis of persistence in
Spoken English." Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 1(1): 113-149.
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For which branches of linguistics is persistence, or repetitiveness, theoretically relevant?
Discuss the analytical distinction between alpha-persistence and beta-persistence.
On the basis of which grammatical phenomena does the paper discuss persistence effects?
Which standard assumption in corpus linguistics, qualitative and quantitative, does the paper call into
question?
What are some of the overall theoretical and practical implications of the study's findings?
Haser, V./B. Kortmann. forthcoming 2008. "Agreement in English dialects." In: Dufter, A./J. Fleischer/G.
Seiler, eds. Describing and Modeling Variation in Grammar. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
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V Variation matters!
Bernd Kortmann
STUDY QUESTIONS – DAY 5
BASIC:
Have another close look at the set of 76 non-standard features of English morphosyntax from the point of
view of grammaticalization processes.
van der Auwera, J./A. Neuckermans. 2004. "Jespersen’s cycle and the interaction of predicate and quantifier
negation in Flemish." In: B. Kortmann, ed. Dialectology Meets Typology: Dialect Grammar from a
Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 453-478.
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Along which lines can different types of triple negation be distinguished?
Explain Jespersen's cycle with the help of the following examples from French:
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jeo ne dis
je ne dis (pas)
je ne dis pas
je (ne) dis pas
je dis pas
Which controversy surrounds the interpretation of the historical process exemplified in the French
examples above, and which position do van der Auwera/Neuckermans take?
In what way is the distinction between predicate negators and quantifier negators relevant for
Jespersen's cycle and the argumentation in this article?
Try to explain Figure 7 (p. 467).
What is to be understood by a system-internal vs. system-external explanation of the intermediate
nature of en niemand niet?
Kortmann, B. 2004. "Do as a tense and aspect marker in varieties of English." In: B. Kortmann, ed.
Dialectology meets Typology: Dialect Grammar from a Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Berlin/New
York: Mouton de Gruyter. 245-275.
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What in general can be said about the role of aspect in non-standard varieties of English?
What is interesting about TAM-marker DO in West Germanic?
Which are the major T/A-categories DO is used for in non-standard varieties of English?
What can be said about these categories in terms of their degree of grammaticalization?
Which TAM-uses of DO are least grammaticalized?
What about the grammaticalization paths DO has taken in non-standard varieties from a typological
perspective?
What is striking about TAM do in British Isles dialects compared with (especially Atlantic) pidgins
and creole? Where does the Founder Principle come in?
Kortmann, B./S. Wagner. to appear. "A fresh look at Late Modern English dialect syntax." Papers from the
Second International Conference on the English Language in the Late Modern Period 1700–1900
(LMEC2), Vigo 25-27 November 2004. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
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What are the reasons for the neglect of historical work on English dialect syntax? Is/was the situation,
according to what you know, the same for the relevant research on other languages, too?
What is understood by "traditional" and "modern" features of morphosyntax here? Give examples of
each of the two.
What is said about the stability of regional characteristics over a very long period of time? Are you
aware of similar examples from the dialects of your native language?
What is understood by pronoun exchange, and where in England is it found? Is it a frequent
phenomenon, and has it ever been?
What is said about the role of stigmatisation in the article?
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V Variation matters!
Bernd Kortmann
Kortmann, B./S. Wagner. in preparation. "Changes and Continuities in Dialect Grammar." In: Hickey, R., ed.
Eighteenth-Century English: Ideology and Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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