During the last decades, comparative syntax has encouraged incursions into an almost unexplored area of linguistic variation, that of dialect syntax. After inspection of closely related languages, syntactic comparative research also focused onto closely related language varieties, as families of dialects, which provided an almost laboratorial setting for studying syntactic variation under strictly controlled conditions (cf. Kayne 1996, Kayne 2005: 5-8). This new microcomparative approach developed as an important tool for investigating dialect syntax, but also as a highly restrained way of searching for invariant linguistic principles, as envisaged by the end of the past century within the framework of Principles and Parameters Theory (Chomsky 1981) of generative syntax: “Microcomparative syntax is a powerful tool, whose growth is perhaps to be compared with the development of the earliest microscopes, that allows us to probe questions concerning the most primitive units of syntactic variation. And since the invariant principles of UG [Universal Grammar] can hardly be understood in isolation from syntactic variation, this tool promises to provide invaluable evidence that will shape our understanding of those principles themselves” (Kayne 1996: xvii). The study of nonstandard and/or non standardized language continues today to strengthen the relevance of microcomparative data for understanding the properties of natural language and the nature of linguistic variation.
How to Cite
Carrilho E. & Fernández B., (2012) “Introduction”, Journal of Portuguese Linguistics 11(1), p.3-5. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/jpl.88