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Title:The Roles of Internal and External Factors and the Mechanism of Analogical Leveling: Variationist- and Probabilistic OT approach to Ongoing Language Change in Japanese Voice System
Authors:Shin-ichiro Sano
Abstract:This thesis presents an exhaustive research about ongoing language variation and change in the Japanese voice system. Through the analysis I identify the roles of internal and external factors in human linguistic competence that govern the language variation and change, and I construct a model of grammar that inherently includes the language variation and change. This work aims at the formal theoretical analysis primarily built upon the empirical evidence: a huge amount of spontaneous speech data.

Until now, a number of researches on language variation and change have been done from various perspectives: The sociolinguistic research, specifically from the perspective of the variationist approach (Labov 1963 et seq., Weinreich et al. 1968), has revealed much about language variation and change, particularly with respect to phonological aspects, focusing on various internal and external factors that govern the phenomena by the quantitative method. However, the formalization of the mechanism of language variation and change is insufficient; the generative grammatical approach (Chomsky 1957) can give a formal account of the phenomena based on the grammatical theory. However, this approach has focused on the language competence as the research subject, and the language use has been overlooked. Thus, the approaches have not cooperated and have not shared their insights.

In the grammatical category voice in Japanese, language variation and change which reorganize the conjugation paradigm are currently underway. The process includes three variations: sa-Insertion, ra-Deletion and re-Insertion. The variation and change in voice are related to the functional demand and to morphophonology.

Based on these facts, I conducted the research from the perspectives of a variationist approach (Labov 1963 et seq.; Weinreich et al. 1968), and also Optimality Theory (henceforth OT; Prince and Smolensky 1993/2004), specifically the Probabilistic OT (e.g. Boersma 1998; Boersma and Hayes 2001; Goldwater and Johnson 2003; Jäger 2004; Jäger and Rosenbach 2006), sharing the insights of both paradigms. I employ two large-scale Japanese corpora: the on-line full text database of the minutes of the Diet and the Corpus of Spontaneous Japanese, complementally taking advantage of the strong points of each corpus for the exhaustive research about language variation and change. The exhaustive research on the corpora brought forth the data which amounts to a total of over 20,000 tokens of the variations.

Specifically, I conduct the quantitative analysis employing the spontaneous speech data and examine the roles of internal- and external factors that govern the language variation and change. The data are subject to the factor-by-factor analysis followed by the multivariate analysis. Subsequently, I conduct the grammatical analysis in terms of the Optimality Theory. I set several OT constraints, reinterpreting the results of the quantitative analysis. The Probabilistic OT analysis includes the prediction of the change and the verification of the analysis. Considering all the results together, I discuss the locus of variation in human language competence. In doing so, I uncover some detailed insights about the roles of internal and external factors and this in turn leads to the construction of a model of grammar that accommodates the inherent variability.

In addition to the identification of the roles of factors and the construction of the model, I propose that the three variations are not discrete phenomena but a uniform and exhaustive one which is driven by the common demand for the optimization of the conjugation paradigm as well as the reduction of the functional load of each form in the Japanese voice system; the discrepancy in the manner of the change is derived according to the particular meanings or functions of each variation. I also show that the language variation and change in question can be explained by the interaction of a small set of constraints.
Area/Keywords:Phonology, Morphology, Sociolinguistics, Historical Linguistics
Article:Version 1