While variation within individual languages has traditionally been focused
upon in sociolinguistics, its relevance for grammatical theory has only
recently been acknowledged. On the methodological side, there is an ongoing
competition between large-scale statistical analyses and investigations
that rely more heavily on introspection and elicited grammaticality judgments.
The aim of this volume is to bridge the ‘cultural gap’ between
empirical-variationist and formal-theoretical approaches in linguistics.
The volume offers case studies that seek to combine corpus-based and
competence-based approaches to the description of variation. In doing so,
it opens up new avenues for locating and analyzing variability, both at the
level of the individual speaker and between speakers of different dialects
and generations. The contributions document the plurality of current
research into models of grammatical competence that live up to the
challenge of variationist data. More specifically, parameter-based (e.g.
Minimalist), constraint-based (e.g. Optimality Theoretic), and usage-based
(e.g. Construction Grammar) approaches to variation are discussed.
The volume therefore is of interest to a broad public within linguistics,
including syntacticians of different theoretical persuasion, morphologists
and sociolinguists. While a majority of contributions addresses facets of
variation in English and German, the volume also includes variationist
studies written by specialists of French, Dutch, Icelandic, and Uralic.