My PhD dissertation focused on language variation in Ayapaneco, an under-documented and understudied critically endangered language spoken in southern Mexico. This study followed a multifactorial approach in order to determine the mechanisms at interplay in synchronic language variation. The variation documented in this dissertation included phonetic, morpho-syntactic and lexico-semantic tokens collected through extensive fieldwork. The data collected corresponded to different speech act events observed in natural settings and elicited through visual, verbal and audiovisual stimuli. The ultimate goal of the data collected was to capture a representative sample of language in use by the few remaining speakers of Ayapaneco in order to create a corpus for analysis in ELAN, Toolbox and PRAAT.
Although variation is a phenomenon inherent to all world languages, studying variation in under-documented and understudied critically endangered languages presents specific theoretical and methodological challenges that I attempt to address and question, such as linguistic competence and the lack of suitable stimuli for collecting specialized language items.