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Microvariation: Phonology and Syntax


Admission requirements



This course discusses the mutual relevance of the study of microvariation and grammatical theory (in particular, phonology and morpho-syntax). We will devote some attention to sociolinguistic models of social variation, the study of geographic microvariation in dialectology, theories of language change and the relation between variation and change, and the effects of language contact on the structure of human language. It will be shown how neighbouring disciplines bring to light many interesting data and puzzles which any serious theory of phonology or syntax cannot abstract away from. We will then discuss the extent to which the main theoretical approaches to microvariation, e.g. Optimality Theory, the parametric theory and typological-functional theory, can account for these data. Examples will be chosen from a wide variety of languages. Some attention will also be paid to alternative ways of describing language variation, in particular to so-called ‘usage-based’ models.

Course objectives

Mode of instruction

2-hour weekly seminar

Assessment method

Presentations (40%)
Homework (20%)
Course paper (40%)



Reading list

To be made available

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs