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Title:Meaningful Variability: A Sociolinguistically-Grounded Approach to Variation in Optimality Theory
Authors:Juan Antonio Cutillas Espinosa
Comment:Published in 'Advances in Optimality Theory', a monograph issue of the International Journal of English Studies (IJES), 4.2, December 2004, edited by Paul Boersma and Juan Antonio Cutillas
Abstract:Most approaches to variability in Optimality Theory have attempted to make variation possible within the OT framework, i.e. to reformulate constraints and rankings to accommodate variable and gradient linguistic facts. Sociolinguists have attempted to apply these theoretical advances to the study of language variation, with an emphasis on language-internal variables (Auger 2001, Cardoso 2001). Little attention has been paid to the array of external factors that influence the patterning of variation. In this paper, we argue that some variation patterns -- specially those that are socially meaningful -- are actually the result of a three-grammar system. G1 is the standard grammar, which has to be available to the speaker to obtain these variation patterns. G3 is the vernacular grammar, which the speaker is likely to have acquired in his local community. Finally, G2 is an intergrammar, which is used by the speaker as his 'default' constraint set. G2 is a continuous ranking (Boersma & Hayes 2001) and domination relations are consciously altered by the speakers to shape the appropriate and variable linguistic output. We illustrate this model with analyses of English and Spanish.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1