This project aims at studying language variation, both in terms of macrovariation (variation between languages and groups of languages) and microvariation (variation between variants of one language). For the work in macrovariation, the empirical data will be drawn from English and the Romance languages. For the study of microvariation special prominence will be given to the study of West Flemish, a dialect of Dutch.
The research is based on the generative paradigm, and adopts the cartographic approach, whose aim it is to provide a detailed analysis of the primitive building blocks of the sentence. The past 10 years has given rise to a substantive literature on the cartography of the clause. A lot of this work has focused on documenting evidence for individual languages and individual empirical domains (the clause periphery being central), but there has been relatively little attempt to compare the various empirical results attained by individual researchers, or to assess whether analyses proposed for one language extend to other languages. Also, so far, relatively little work has been done in the cartography of English. The project will seek to fill these gaps by bringing data from different languages together on a comparative basis, explicitly addressing the theoretical questions that arise on both a descriptive and explanatory level.
Three main lines of enquiries are pursued. One sub project deals with phenomena related to the left periphery of the clause. The second sub project examines the area preceding the subject position and examines to what extent the boundary which is proposed between the left periphery of the clause (‘CP’) and the Tense domain (TP) is tenable and how the subject positions are articulated in that area. The third line of research investigates how the functional domains identified for the clause can be also applied to the nominal domain.