Topics in Variation (TV)

Jeffrey Keith Parrott (

This one-week seminar is concerned with modelling inter- but especially intra-individual variation in the morphosyntactic theoretical framework of Distributed Morphology (DM) (for overviews see Embick & Noyer 2007, Embick 2015, Nevins 2016). We will consider two topics: first the morphosyntax and typological distribution of the ubiquitous yet stigmatized English negated auxiliary ain’t (Nevins & Parrott 2010, Parrott 2017), and second the radically afeatural Root hypothesis (Harley 2014) as applied to variation and creative derivation of complex words and phrasal idioms (Pinker 2014, Parrott 2016). The seminar will tie into this year’s EGG empirical theme by focusing on the use of television as a data source for investigating variation (Trotta & Blyahher 2011), with attested examples from The Wire (2002-2006), Brooklyn Nine Nine (2013-), and other shows.

Materials can be found here:

Day 1: Modeling morphosyntactic variation in DM (Embick 2015)
Day 2: Variable Impoverishment (Nevins & Parrott 2010)
Day 3: English ain’t as *ABA (Parrott 2017, Trotta & Blyahher 2011)
Day 4: The radically afeatural Root hypothesis (Harley 2014)
Day 5: Variation and creativity in complex words and idioms (Parrott 2016)


Embick, David & Noyer, Rolf 2007. ‘Distributed Morphology and the Syntax/Morphology Interface’, In The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Interfaces, eds. G. Ramchand and C. Reiss, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Embick, David 2015. The Morpheme: A Theoretical Introduction. Boston/Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Harley, Heidi 2014. ‘On the identity of roots’, Theoretical Linguistics, 40 (3/4): 225-76.

Nevins, Andrew & Parrott, Jeffrey K. 2010. ‘Variable rules meet Impoverishment theory: Patterns of agreement leveling in English varieties’, Lingua, 120 (5): 1135-59.

Nevins, Andrew Ira 2016. Lectures on Postsyntactic Morphology. Ms., University College London, UK. []

Parrott, Jeffrey Keith 2016. Variation and creativity with radically afeatural Roots. Talk at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany.

Parrott, Jeffrey Keith 2017. *ABA in the typology of English ain’t as markedness-driven variable Impoverishment. Ms., Palacký University, Olomouc, Czechia.

Pinker, Steven 2014. The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, New York, NY: Penguin. []

Trotta, Joe & Blyahher, Oleg 2011. Game done changed: A look at selected AAVE features in the TV series The Wire. Moderna språk [Modern Language], 1: 15-42.