Parameters and Language Contact: Morphosyntactic Variation in Dutch Dialects



The central issue addressed in this paper is the formal linguistic notion of parameter as a predictor for the (non-)occurrence of multiple linguistic phenomena. We start from a parametric analysis of a microvariational data set and we introduce a way of gauging the success of that analysis. At the same time, we explore to what extent language contact—operationalized here as geographical proximity—can be seen as an explanatory factor that is complementary to the parametric analysis. Methodologically, the paper advocates for the use of k-nearest neighbors classification as an interesting new technique in the linguist’s toolkit.


microvariation, parameters, Dutch dialects, language contact


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