When variants lack semantic equivalence

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportBidrag til bog/antologiForskningfagfællebedømt

This chapter argues that it will make results of variationist studies more relevant for linguistic theory if internal predictors assumed to constrain syntactic variation are operationalized in a way that explicitly relates them to semantic or—more broadly—functional hypotheses. We use word order in Danish adverbial subordinate clauses as a case study for how a hypothesized semantic difference between variants can be operationalized. This word order alternation concerns the relative placement of sentential adverbials and finite verbs in subclauses. While the variable is structurally well-defined (Adverb<Verb vs. Verb>Adverb), it challenges classic theoretical and methodological assumptions in variationist studies by entailing a semantic difference, since the two word orders conveying subtly different meanings when used in subclauses. For this study, we operationalize a set of linguistic predictors related to the two most prevalent meaning hypotheses given in the literature, the Assertivity and the Foregrounding Hypothesis. Mixed-effect models and random forest analyses are used to examine the effects and strength of intra- and extralinguistic (social) predictors. Geographical differences related with social stratification indicate an ongoing standardization process emanating from the capital of Copenhagen. The import of our findings related to linguistic theory is discussed.
Bidragets oversatte titelNår varianter ikke er semantisk ækvivalente
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TitelExplanations in Sociosyntax
Antal sider32
ForlagCambridge University Press
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2021
NavnStudies in Language Variation and Change

ID: 181235150