4: Formal Ways of Analyzing Variation

Anton Karl Ingason (Philadelphia) & Einar Freyr Sigurðsson (Philadelphia)

This workshop is a venue for case studies on formal analyses of variation and its implications on grammatical theory, acquisition and change. A specific focus will be on the use of methodology which provide ready access to data and development tools to facilitate replication and extension of research results. The session aims to investigate the empirical content of analyses of speaker variation. Representative research questions include, but are not limited to:

  • What are the limits of variation?
  • Do our analyses provide unifying accounts for apparently disparate clusters of linguistic properties?
  • How does the child analyze a heterogeneous pool of primary linguistic data?
  • What types of diachronic trajectories are consequences of language acquisition under variation?
  • Is the statistical distribution of variation constrained by grammatical factors?
  • How do we make the best use of statistical tools for formal linguistic analysis?
  • On a more practical note, the session hopes to contribute to the the practice of replicability, data access, and collaborative development.
  • What does the variation attach to?

We also ask about the relationship between the linguistic machinery and the mechanisms that are responsible for how a speakers alternate between functionally equivalent variants. Further representative questions include:

  • Where does the variation come from and how can we distinguish the formal models empirically?
  • How do we know which type of mechanism is responsible for which part of language usage?
  • How does a formal analysis of variation handle different domains of language and the interfaces between them?