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The course aims at exploring the tension between linguistic variation and formal grammar theory, by considering some syntactic phenomena found in German dialects, in particular in the dialect Mòcheno, and by comparing them with the standard language. The course will discuss what the triggers for variation are, with particular attention to system-external (role of contact in situations of bilingualism, language L1 acquisition) and system-internal (role of morphology and lexicon, syntax/semantic, pragmatic interface) triggers, in order to give a satisfying analysis of the considered phenomena.
The tension between linguistic variation and formal theory will be investigated by considering three syntactic phenomena central to German linguistics - the Verb Second (Verb-Zweit, V2) rule, the order of objects and finite verb (OV vs VO), and the syntax of subject pronouns – in both standard and dialectal varieties.
The observed syntactic variation will be shown not to be due to system-external factors, such as the role of contact with typologically different varieties, but by system-internal rules affecting a single grammar. These rules will be shown to naturally follow from our formal model of syntac description, which is refined and precised by the variational data.
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