ALTS, Research project 'Empirical analysis of linguistic strategies of micro-variation in English: synchronic and diachronic issues'

ALTS, an introduction

This project aims to undertake a systematic study of bounded alternations in the English language from both synchronic and diachronic perspectives. These alternations give rise to examples of micro-variation in the language, as evidenced by the existence of options or “choices” of linguistic expressions. We will review the semantic, functional, pragmatic and communicative consequences of the paradigmatic variation observed in phonetic, syntactic, thematic (in the sense of Systemic Grammar), discursive and textual (in the field of diachronic translation) alternations. The methodology is empirical in all cases, since the study of individual cases of microvariation takes as the starting point actual examples retrieved from electronic collections of texts, both of historical and contemporary English, of native and learner language. We consider, among others, examples of microvariation in stress patterns of compounds, in the order of constituents in the phrase (complements and adjuncts in noun, verb and adjective phrases; premodification in adjective phrases; non-finite complements in the verb phrase; placement of complements of prepositions in prepositional phrases) and in the clause (examples of topicalization, dislocation, extraposition, verb-object/object-verb), in the explicit and implicit syntax of constituents in contexts of ellipsis and of subject deletion (in adverbials such as free adjuncts and absolutes), in contexts of subject-verb agreement with collective nouns, in those choices of speech acts in controlled discourse and in solutions of diachronic translation.

The data are treated with basic statistical techniques and lead to studies based on corpus linguistics, in an attempt to determine the validity of the results. With such an empirical methodology and with a number of theoretical assumptions from various models (from syntactocentric options to systemic-functional models, from phonetic optimality to discourse studies on translation and speech-act theory, from lexical semantics to pragmatics), this project opts for an eclectic treatment of results based on a broad concept of linguistic functionality.

ALTS has been funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (grant no. FFI2013-44065-P)

ALTS, the team

Research team

Work team

PhD students

ALTS, contact

Javier Pérez-Guerra [email]
University of Vigo
Department of English, French and German
Faculty of Philology and Translation. Campus Universitario
E-36310 Vigo, Spain