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Probabilistic indigenization effects at the lexis–syntax interface


Tamaredo, Ivan; Röthlisberger, Melanie; Grafmiller, Jason; Heller, Benedikt (2020). Probabilistic indigenization effects at the lexis–syntax interface. English Language and Linguistics, 24(2):413-440.

Abstract

Szmrecsanyi <jats:italic>et al.</jats:italic> (2016) define probabilistic indigenization as the process whereby probabilistic constraints shape variation patterns in different ways, which eventually leads to more heterogeneity in the constraints governing syntactic variation across different varieties of English. The present study extends our knowledge of the heterogeneity of probabilistic grammars by sketching a corpus-based variationist method for calculating the similarity between varieties thereby drawing inspiration from the comparative sociolinguistics literature. Based on linguistic material from the <jats:italic>International Corpus of English</jats:italic>, we ascertain the degree of regional variability of five probabilistic constraints on the genitive, dative, particle placement and subject pronoun omission alternations across three varieties of English, namely British, Indian and Singapore English. Our results indicate that, of the four alternations under study, the genitive alternation is the most homogeneous one from a regional perspective, followed – in increasing order of heterogeneity – by subject pronoun omission, dative and particle placement alternations. On the basis of these findings, we evaluate claims in the literature according to which the extent of probabilistic indigenization is proportional to the lexical specificity of the syntactic phenomenon under study, a hypothesis that is borne out by our data.

Abstract

Szmrecsanyi <jats:italic>et al.</jats:italic> (2016) define probabilistic indigenization as the process whereby probabilistic constraints shape variation patterns in different ways, which eventually leads to more heterogeneity in the constraints governing syntactic variation across different varieties of English. The present study extends our knowledge of the heterogeneity of probabilistic grammars by sketching a corpus-based variationist method for calculating the similarity between varieties thereby drawing inspiration from the comparative sociolinguistics literature. Based on linguistic material from the <jats:italic>International Corpus of English</jats:italic>, we ascertain the degree of regional variability of five probabilistic constraints on the genitive, dative, particle placement and subject pronoun omission alternations across three varieties of English, namely British, Indian and Singapore English. Our results indicate that, of the four alternations under study, the genitive alternation is the most homogeneous one from a regional perspective, followed – in increasing order of heterogeneity – by subject pronoun omission, dative and particle placement alternations. On the basis of these findings, we evaluate claims in the literature according to which the extent of probabilistic indigenization is proportional to the lexical specificity of the syntactic phenomenon under study, a hypothesis that is borne out by our data.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Language and Linguistics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Linguistics and Language
Uncontrolled Keywords:Linguistics and Language, Language and Linguistics
Language:English
Date:1 June 2020
Deposited On:20 Oct 2020 17:20
Last Modified:27 Jan 2022 02:48
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:1360-6743
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/s1360674319000133
Related URLs:https://osf.io/zv2bc/ (Research Data)
Project Information:
  • : FunderRegional Government of Galicia
  • : Grant IDED431B 2017/12
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderRegional Government of Galicia
  • : Grant IDED431D 2017/09
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderSpanish Ministry of Innovation, Science and Universities
  • : Grant IDFFI2017-86884-P
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderSpanish Ministry of Innovation, Science and Universities
  • : Grant IDFFI2014-52188-P
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderSpanish Ministry of Innovation, Science and Universities
  • : Grant IDBES-2015-071233
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderResearch Foundation Flanders
  • : Grant IDG.0C59.13N
  • : Project Title

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