Spoken syntax in a comparative perspective: The dative and genitive alternation in varieties of English


This paper introduces a new resource designed to facilitate the quantitative investigation of syntactic variation in spoken language from a comparative perspective. The datasets comprise homogeneously annotated collections of “interchangeable” (i.e. competing) genitive and dative variants in four varieties of English: American English, British English, Canadian English, and New Zealand English. To showcase the empirical potential of the data source, we present a suggestive analysis that investigates the extent to which the probabilistic grammar of genitive and dative variant choice differs across varieties. The statistical analysis reveals that while there are a number of subtle probabilistic contrasts between the regional varieties under study, there is overall a striking degree of cross-varietal homogeneity. We conclude by outlining directions for future research.


This article is part of the Special Collection: Probabilistic grammars: Syntactic variation in a comparative perspective


syntax, probabilistic grammar, variationist linguistics, dative alternation, genitive alternation, varieties of English

How to Cite

Szmrecsanyi, B. & Grafmiller, J. & Bresnan, J. & Rosenbach, A. & Tagliamonte, S. & Todd, S., (2017) “Spoken syntax in a comparative perspective: The dative and genitive alternation in varieties of English”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 2(1), p.86. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.310







Benedikt Szmrecsanyi (KU Leuven, Blijde-Inkomststraat 21, 3000 Leuven)
Jason Grafmiller (University of Birmingham, 3 Elms Road, Edgbaston B15 2TT)
Joan Bresnan (Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University, Cordura Hall 205, Stanford, CA 94305)
Anette Rosenbach (Tanagra Farm, P.O. Box 92, 6708 McGregor/Western Cape)
Sali Tagliamonte (University of Toronto, 100 St George St, Toronto, Ontario, CDA, M5S 3G3)
Simon Todd (Department of Linguistics, Stanford University, Building 460, Margaret Jacks Hall, Stanford, CA 94305-2150)



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


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