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      Seeking Systematicity in Variation: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations on the “Variety” Concept

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          Abstract

          One centennial discussion in linguistics concerns whether languages, or linguistic systems, are, essentially, homogeneous or rather show “structured heterogeneity.” In this contribution, the question is addressed whether and how sociolinguistically defined systems (or ‘varieties’) are to be distinguished in a heterogeneous linguistic landscape: to what extent can structure be found in the myriads of language variants heard in everyday language use? We first elaborate on the theoretical importance of this ‘variety question’ by relating it to current approaches from, among others, generative linguistics (competing grammars), sociolinguistics (style-shifting, polylanguaging), and cognitive linguistics (prototype theory). Possible criteria for defining and detecting varieties are introduced, which are subsequently tested empirically, using a self-compiled corpus of spoken Dutch in West Flanders (Belgium). This empirical study demonstrates that the speech repertoire of the studied West Flemish speakers consists of four varieties, viz. a fairly stable dialect variety, a more or less virtual standard Dutch variety, and two intermediate varieties, which we will label ‘cleaned-up dialect’ and ‘substandard.’ On the methodological level, this case-study underscores the importance of speech corpora comprising both inter- and intra-speaker variation on the one hand, and the merits of triangulating qualitative and quantitative approaches on the other.

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          Most cited references 77

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          Polylingual Languaging Around and Among Children and Adolescents

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            The Use of Multiple Correspondence Analysis to Explore Associations between Categories of Qualitative Variables in Healthy Ageing

            The main focus of this study was to illustrate the applicability of multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) in detecting and representing underlying structures in large datasets used to investigate cognitive ageing. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to obtain main cognitive dimensions, and MCA was used to detect and explore relationships between cognitive, clinical, physical, and lifestyle variables. Two PCA dimensions were identified (general cognition/executive function and memory), and two MCA dimensions were retained. Poorer cognitive performance was associated with older age, less school years, unhealthier lifestyle indicators, and presence of pathology. The first MCA dimension indicated the clustering of general/executive function and lifestyle indicators and education, while the second association was between memory and clinical parameters and age. The clustering analysis with object scores method was used to identify groups sharing similar characteristics. The weaker cognitive clusters in terms of memory and executive function comprised individuals with characteristics contributing to a higher MCA dimensional mean score (age, less education, and presence of indicators of unhealthier lifestyle habits and/or clinical pathologies). MCA provided a powerful tool to explore complex ageing data, covering multiple and diverse variables, showing if a relationship exists and how variables are related, and offering statistical results that can be seen both analytically and visually.
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              Dialect areas and dialect continua

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                26 March 2018
                2018
                : 9
                Affiliations
                1Research Centre for Multilingual Practices and Language Learning in Society, Department of Linguistics, Ghent University , Ghent, Belgium
                2Institut für Niederländische Philologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster , Münster, Germany
                Author notes

                Edited by: Enoch Oladé Aboh, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

                Reviewed by: Margreet Dorleijn, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands; Ad Backus, Tilburg University, Netherlands

                *Correspondence: Anne-Sophie Ghyselen annesophie.ghyselen@ 123456ugent.be

                This article was submitted to Language Sciences, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00385
                5879321
                Copyright © 2018 Ghyselen and De Vogelaer.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 121, Pages: 19, Words: 16200
                Funding
                Funded by: Universiteit Gent 10.13039/501100004385
                Categories
                Psychology
                Original Research

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