Committee: John Singler (chair), Richard Kayne, Gregory Guy, Renee Blake, Bambi Schieffelin
This dissertation has two sets of goals.
The first half of this dissertation focuses on language change in a Basque dialect. Following the end of the Franquist dictatorship in 1975, a new Basque standard, Batua, was introduced into Basque schools and media. Since then, a generation of speakers has grown up exposed to Batua in these domains, which suggests the possibility that younger speakers will borrow features from Batua into their vernacular, leading to change in local dialects. This dissertation examines variation between Batua and dialectal features in the town of Oiartzun in an effort to gauge this process of change. Data were gathered in sociolinguistic and ethnographic interviews with forty speakers of Oiartzun Basque.
A principal claim of this study is that this variation must be understood in terms of ideologies of modernity and social and economic changes in town life since 1975. The fact that emblematic features of local speech are not giving way to competing standard forms is plausibly related to a rise in dialectal loyalty, which is in turn related to recent changes in town life. Many community members understand standardization as part of a broader process of modernization and economic development that has been advantageous in many ways, but also brought other unwanted changes, including the loss of many traditional practices. The ambivalence of many younger speakers toward these changes is reflected in their attitudes toward Batua features and their use of these.
The second half of this dissertation discusses topics in Basque syntax in view of cross-dialectal variation in speaker intuitions. This discussion includes an account of two kinds of “restructuring” phenomena—auxiliary switch and long distance agreement (LDA)—which are subject to different locality restrictions: auxiliary switch is restricted to single iterations of the clausal functional sequence, while LDA is possible out of a small (~VP) complement of the matrix V. It is shown that these different locality restrictions on restructuring follow trivially from the different syntactic phenomena responsible for them, and, therefore no special locality restrictions on “restructuring” per se need be invoked.