Ti trovi qui: Home » Projects » PRIN 2017

Models of language variation and change: new evidence from language contact

The PRIN project “Models of language variation and change: new evidence from language contact” (PRIN2017K3NHHY) is led by Rita Manzini (Universitą di Firenze). It began in December 2019 and will end in June 2023.

Here follows a short description of our research (from the “Brief description of the research proposal” written by R. Manzini).


Linguistic variation and change, no less than language universals, are not merely accidental to language but woven into its basic design. We are interested in contact phenomena not in themselves but in so far as they act as catalyzers or accelerators for variation and change, providing a unique window on them.

The aim of this project is threefold:

collecting and describing syntactic data in domains of language contact, primarily German(ic) and Balkan varieties in contact with Romance in the Italian peninsula and West/North Germanic/Romance contact in the change from Old to Middle English;

- carrying out a formal analysis of the observed data, with special attention to phenomena involved at the interface between syntax and externalization (case/agreement, word order);

- contributing to formal models of variation and change, with a focus on microvariation, understood as the basic unit of variation and change, rather than on typological macrovariation.

In general, our goal is describing, analyzing and explaining language diversity, using the “external” impulses acting on it (i.e. interaction dynamics between speakers and/or speaking communities) as a tool to get to the core of the “internal” structures that determine it (i.e. the speakers’ grammatical competence).


The research units are based at the universities of Firenze (Rita Manzini), Verona (Alessandra Tomaselli), Trieste (Paola Crisma), Reggio Emilia (Cristina Guardiano).

You can read the full description of the project here.