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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter Mouton July 25, 2017

On The Problem of Syntactic Variation and Pragmatic Meaning in Sociolinguistic Theory

  • Suzanne Romaine
From the journal Folia Linguistica


In view of the apparent successes achieved with Labovian quantitative methods in the analysis of phonological Variation, it is not surprising to find these techniques being extended to include the study of syntax. SANKOFF (1973), for example, suggests that the extension of probabilistic considerations from phonology to syntax is not a conceptually difficult Jump. In my opinion, however, SANKOFF's optimism is premature. An analogous view of syntactic Variation is incoherent; it is a moot point what one means by the notion 'syntactic Variation*. We simply do not have a sociolinguistic (nor a syntactic) theory which is sufficiently well articulated and restricted to deal with the problem of Variation in syntax. Perhaps the most serious issue which the problem of syntactic Variation raises concerns the kind of semantic/pragmatic theory upon which the foundations of an integrative sociolinguistic theory should be based.*

Published Online: 2017-7-25

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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