From chameleon to tyranossaurus rex - the sociolinguist as a predator

Emilio Gozze Pagotto


The article discusses the relationship amonst the Theory of Variation and Change and models such as Structuralism and Generative Theory. Against the backdrop of the major controversies that inaugurated the Theory of Variation and Change itself, as well as those surrounding the work of Fernando Tarallo in Brazil, the text addresses the epistemological problem of incorporating hypotheses from other models. It assumes that these theories are incommensurable, and thus non-competing. However, it proposes an epistemological path to overcome the immobility that would result, within the scope of Variationist studies, from the awareness of this incommensurability. Basically, this path consists of taking the portions of language functioning that support the empiricism of such theoretical frameworks – common to the Variationist description – and re-signifying the relationship proposed within the Structural or Generative framework of origin not as the effect of a rule that responds to abstract concepts that only make sense within each frame, but as a force that acts within the scope of the functioning of language.


Linguistic Variation; Incommensurable Theories; Variable Rule.

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