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This project investigates the multilingual setting of an urban street market, where speakers routinely draw on a large range of linguistic resources. So far, research on such settings has focused on their characteristic diversity and fluidity. In contrast, our investigation will target stability; it will be led by the hypothesis that the observable and sometimes outwardly chaotic variability is not a matter of ‘anything goes’, but might rather be delimitated by systematic patterns and restrictions. In order to capture this great variability and its constraints, we combine ethnographical and sociolinguistic methods with grammatical analyses and theoretical linguistic modelling.
This project seeks to explore the dimensions of syntactic variability from a diachronic perspective. We will combine corpus study and psycholinguistic experimentation to investigate how language processing strategies might affect speakers' choices of particular syntactic variants. The extraordinary abundance of syntactic variants in Early New High German, which gradually became more constrained during the emergence of present-day Standard German, will provide a suitable empirical basis for this. The project will focus on the emergence of coherent infinitival structures.
Language in social media is characterised by more formal (written) or more informal (spoken-like) style in different contexts, and thus shows high variability. We focus on one linguistic domain in Pragmatics, the management of common ground between writers and readers, and identify the consistent patterns of discourse strategies employed by writers across different groups and channels. We will develop computational models for the observed variability across individuals, groups, and social media channels supplementing a consistent core. The models test and if appropriate extend theories like Centering and Segmented Discourse Representation Theory.