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Cluster A: Limits of variability in language interaction and change

Cluster A is studying instances of language use in different media and changing communicative situations that simultaneously integrate input from a diverse set of languages, varieties, or dialects and thus offer a particularly fertile ground for examining linguistic variability.

The projects of Cluster A investigate limits of variability in contexts that are less subject to "standard" conventions of language use, e.g. at a multilingual urban street market, in internet-based communication, or at diachronic stages prior to the establishment of a standard variety. In such settings, there is a large range of theoretically and logically possible conversational options; however, not all of these are realised or used productively: Even in the absence of fixed standards, the range of variability is limited. The common focus of the projects in Cluster A is on the description, analysis and modelling of these options and of the constraints that restrict speakers' choices in such instances. The shared goal is to identify both the range of variability in understudied situations of language use, and the linguistic, cognitive or external constraints on this variability. Based on their empirical work, the projects in this cluster aim to develop explanatory models that account for constraints on the high variability available in such settings by evaluating and advancing grammatical or computational models that capture both variability and its limits.

The projects in Cluster A are: