Investigating variation in Spanish pronoun subjects
1. Advancing the study of syntactic variation 11
1. Advancing the study of syntactic variation Human language is inherently variable and multi-faceted; any linguis- tic theory intending to be comprehensive and explanatory should take facts of variation into account. Nevertheless, it is well known that their study has generally remained a peripheral concern for main- stream linguistic science, usually devoted to the search for categorical, axiomatic principles of language structure. In turn, particular variants and statistical tendencies have most often been disregarded as anecdo- tal features of usage and not really worthy of scientific consideration. But, of course, not all the blame is to be put on ‘theoretical’ linguistics and its traditionally scarce interest in language as actual communica- tion. On the other hand, analytical approaches that do acknowledge the relevance of variation and diversity – mainly (socio)linguistic variationism, but also other lines within sociolinguistics and pragmat- ics, such as anthropological-ethnographic linguistics or interactional linguistics – have not been able to define systematic connections be- tween their empirical findings and any general linguistic theories, much less to develop their own explanatory models. This has resulted in variation studies remaining confined to the description and compar- ison of linguistic features, varieties and speech communities, with little intent to formulate general principles of the relationship between variation, communication and the human mind. The aim of this book is indeed to take a step towards the con- struction of a theoretical model of linguistic variation as communica- tive choice. The focus will be put on morphosyntax, due to its centrali- ty as...
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