Language and Variation: A Study of English and Persian Wh-questions

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of English, Falavarjan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran


It was claimed by variationists that languages experience variation at all levels, which is supposed to be patterned. The present study aimed at exploring how variation occurred in English and Persian wh-questions. More specifically, it investigated whether such a variation was systematic and patterned. To this end, a modified version of the Edinburgh Map Task was used in data collection. The population of this study was 60 Canadian and Persian native speakers who performed the task through the construction of wh-question variants. The results indicated that both languages experienced variation in the construction of wh-questions. However, Persian proved to be more variable than English because it allowed more wh-question variants to be produced. Moreover, this variation was patterned in English and Persian individually, yet a systematic variation could not be observed between these two languages. It followed that the different mind-sets of the Canadian and Iranian participants which were affected by social and cultural factors might account for such a variation.


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