Spoken syntax in a comparative perspective: The dative and genitive alternation in varieties of English

Benedikt Szmrecsanyi, Jason Grafmiller, Joan Bresnan, Anette Rosenbach, Sali Tagliamonte, Simon Todd

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Abstract

This paper introduces a new resource designed to facilitate the quantitative investigation of syntactic variation in spoken language from a comparative perspective. The datasets comprise homogeneously annotated collections of “interchangeable” (i.e. competing) genitive and dative variants in four varieties of English: American English, British English, Canadian English, and New Zealand English. To showcase the empirical potential of the data source, we present a suggestive analysis that investigates the extent to which the probabilistic grammar of genitive and dative variant choice differs across varieties. The statistical analysis reveals that while there are a number of subtle probabilistic contrasts between the regional varieties under study, there is overall a striking degree of cross-varietal homogeneity. We conclude by outlining directions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlossa
Volume2
Issue number1: 86
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • syntax
  • probabilistic grammar
  • variationist linguistics
  • dative alternation
  • genitive alternation
  • varieties of English

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