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Dissertation

posted Nov 24, 2008, 3:19 AM by Marco Spruit   [ updated Feb 16, 2012, 12:11 PM ]
This is the cover of my Ph.D. thesis Quantitative perspectives on syntactic variation in Dutch dialects, which I completed at the University of Amsterdam. It appeared as number 174 in the LOT Dissertation Series. I have also prepared an extended abstract (10 pages) which highlights the research motivation, research approach and research results.

In this research I have investigated three quantitative perspectives on syntactic variation in Dutch dialects. The first perspective showed how to quantify syntactic differences between language varieties and classified the Dutch dialect varieties based on a measure of syntactic distance. This objective classification was compared with—and highly resembled—the traditional, perceptual classification based on subjective judgements. This approach also affirmatively answered the question whether syntactic variation patterns are geographically coherent.

The second perspective described how to quantify the degrees of association between pronunciational, lexical and syntactic differences. This approach revealed that the degrees of association among the linguistic levels of pronunciation, lexis and syntax are genuine but modest. Also, syntactic and pronunciational differences are not more strongly associated with one another than either one is associated with lexical differences.

The third perspective demonstrated how to discover relevant associations between syntactic variables using a data mining technique based on geographical co-occurrences. This approach contributed to the validation of existing typological hypotheses and facilitated the identification and exploration of variable relationships in general.