Micro-Syntactic Variation in North American English

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-07-10
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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By comparing linguistic varieties that are quite similar overall, linguists can often determine where and how grammatical systems differ, and how they change over time. Micro-Syntactic Variation in North American English provides a systematic look at minimal differences in the syntax of varieties of English spoken in North America. The book makes available for the first time a range of data on unfamiliar constructions drawn from several regional and social dialects, data whose distribution and grammatical properties shed light on the varieties under examination and on the properties of English syntax more generally.

The nine contributions collected in this volume fall under a number of overlapping topics: variation in the expression of negation and modality (the "so don't I" construction in eastern New England, negative auxiliary inversion in declaratives in African-American and southern white English, multiple modals in southern speech, the "needs washed" construction in the Pittsburgh area); pronouns and reflexives (transitive expletives in Appalachia, personal dative constructions in the Southern/Mountain states, long-distance reflexives in the Minnesota Iron Range); and the relation between linguistic variation and language change (the rise of "drama SO" among younger speakers, the difficulty in establishing which phenomena cluster together and should be explained by a single point of parametric variation). These chapters delve into the syntactic analysis of individual phenomena, and the editors' introduction and afterword contextualize the issues and explore their semantic, pragmatic, and sociolinguistic implications.

Author Biography

Raffaella Zanuttini is Professor of Linguistics at Yale University. She has worked extensively on the range and limits of variation in the syntactic expression of negation, particularly across the Romance languages, and the notion of clause type and its syntactic realization. She is the author of Negation and Clausal Structure: A Comparative Study of Romance Languages (Oxford University Press) and co-editor (with R. Kayne and T. Leu) of An Annotated Syntax Reader: Lasting Insights and Questions, (Wiley-Blackwell).
Laurence R. Horn is Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy at Yale University. His primary research program lies in the union (if not the intersection) of classical logic, lexical semantics, and neo-Gricean pragmatic theory. He has been particularly concerned with the exploration of natural language negation and its relation to other operators. He is the author of A Natural History of Negation (Chicago/CSLI), editor of The Expression of Negation (de Gruyter) and co-editor (with Y. Kato) of Negation and Polarity (Oxford) and (with G. Ward) of The Handbook of Pragmatics (Blackwell).

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