This article explores geographical variation in a range of understudied dative constructions in American English. It shows that these constructions are found primarily in the South and that they permit numerous syntactic variations and permutations. However, not all sentences and constructions have an equal status. In particular, the authors find that they lie on a continuum of markedness. More marked variants are judged acceptable by fewer speakers and have a more limited geographic distribution. And yet, even the most marked variants cannot be dismissed: the strong geographic nature of their distribution shows that they are a genuine part of the grammar of many speakers. Overall, this research contributes a more detailed picture of dative constructions in American English and a more nuanced picture of syntactic variation in Southern American English; moreover, the authors offer a novel approach to measuring geographical markedness in syntactic variation.
Dative Country: Markedness and Geographical Variation in Southern Dative Constructions
JIM WOOD is assistant professor of linguistics at Yale University and associate editor of the Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics. His primary research interests lie in syntax and its interfaces with morphology and semantics. He is the author of Icelandic Morphosyntax and Argument Structure (Springer, 2015), and his research has been published in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, Linguistic Inquiry, Syntax, Glossa, Linguistic Variation, and elsewhere. Since 2012, he has been a leading member of the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project and was a co–principal investigator on the National Science Foundation grant funding its work. Email: email@example.com.
RAFFAELLA ZANUTTINI is professor of linguistics at Yale University. She has worked extensively on the range and limits of variation in the syntactic expression of negation and is author of Negation and Clausal Structure: A Comparative Study of Romance Languages (Oxford Univ. Press, 1997). In joint work with Paul Portner, she has investigated the syntax and semantics of exclamatives and imperatives. Her interest in comparing minimally different languages has led her to found the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project, a research group whose goal is to document, describe, and analyze the syntactic diversity that exists across varieties of North American English. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
LAURENCE HORN is emeritus professor of linguistics at Yale University. His 1972 dissertation “On the Semantic Properties of Logical Operators in English” (UCLA) introduced scalar implicature. He is the author of A Natural History of Negation (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1989; CSLI, 2001) and over 100 articles on negation, pragmatic theory, lexical semantics, and linguistic variation. Among his publications are Micro-Syntactic Variation in North American English (coedited with Raffaella Zanuttini; Oxford Univ. Press, 2014) and “Spitten Image: Etymythology and Fluid Dynamics” (American Speech 79.1 ). A longtime member of the American Dialect Society and the Linguistic Society of America, he is an elected fellow of the LSA. Email: email@example.com.
JASON ZENTZ is assistant dean of academic and faculty affairs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale University. As a linguist, he has worked at the interface between syntax and morphology, with particular interest in wh-question formation strategies and the derivation of morphological alternations that appear in the context of A'-movement. After completing his 2016 dissertation, “Forming wh-Questions in Shona: A Comparative Bantu Perspective” (Yale Univ.), he worked as a postdoctoral associate on the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project while transitioning into academic administration. His current portfolio includes departmental external reviews and the ladder faculty tenure and promotion process. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Wood, Raffaella Zanuttini, Laurence Horn, Jason Zentz; Dative Country: Markedness and Geographical Variation in Southern Dative Constructions. American Speech 1 February 2020; 95 (1): 3–45. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-7587901
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