Three Sources of Syntactic Variation: evidence from the Scots Syntactic Atlas. David Adger, Queen Mary University of London

Event Date/Time: 
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - 7:00pm
Event Details: 

David AdgerQueen Mary University of London. (joint work with Caroline Heycock, Jennifer Smith and Gary Thoms)

Three Sources of Syntactic Variation: evidence from the Scots Syntactic Atlas

In this talk I distinguish three sources of syntactic variation and exemplify them through some preliminary  findings that have emerged from the SCOSYA project (Scots Syntactic Atlas, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council). One source of variation in syntax is to be understood as deriving from the way that syntax is spelled out as morphological form. I show this by an investigation of aspects of the morphosyntax of negation across Scottish dialects and argue that certain phenomena that have been treated as head movement are better understood, not as syntactic movement, but as a direct link between syntactic and morphological structures. The second source involves a difference, not in how syntax is spelled out, but in the inventory of syntactic features. I present an analysis of agreement differences between different Scottish dialects that shows surface variation in this area emerges through the interaction of feature inventory variation and spellout mechanisms. The third source of syntactic variation is that varieties syntactically combine different resources to attain structures which can be uniformly mapped to the interface with semantic interpretation to achieve similar semantic. I illustrate this by looking at variation in the interaction between certain auxiliary and main verbs across Scottish dialects. The sources of variation, then, lie at the interface with morphology, the inventory of syntactic features available in a language, and in how languages combine their syntactic resources to achieve structures which uniformly map to semantic interpretation. We can see how all three sources interact to give rise to a rich pattern of variation across the dialects of Scottish English.