Sociolinguistics Lunch: Mary Robinson (NYU)

NOV 30, 2018 | 2:00 PM TO 4:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




November 30, 2018: 2:00 PM-4:00 PM




Mary Robinson (NYU), presents:

Spelling Out Syntactic Variation

In this talk, I discuss syntactic variation in terms of the Minimalist generative syntactic framework (Chomsky 1995) and Distributed Morphology (Halle & Marantz 1993), arguing that syntactic variation arises from the linearization of constituents (wheresomething is pronounced) and the Spell Out of the terminal nodes of syntax (howsomething is pronounced). Sociolinguists have long assumed that syntactic variation is less likely to be socially evaluated (i.e, to carry social meaning) than phonetic variation (Eckert & Labov 2017, Meyerhoff & Walker 2013, Labov 2001, among others). However, little work has addressed this claim. I explore the predictions of the generative syntax framework in terms of where we expectto find social evaluation of syntactic variants, and contrast this with previous studies that show where we do in fact find such social evaluation. I conclude with a broader discussion of the types of linguistic objects that social meaning can attach to.

Reception to follow in the Linguistics Department. All are welcome to attend!