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Abstract: In a paper published some years ago (2002), I examined a kind of quantifier float that had gone unexamined in previous work on English, one in which a universal quantifier (`all') associates at a distance with a fronted wh-pronoun (`who' or `what' or `where') in a constituent question. The pattern is characteristic of a network of small communities (urban and rural) in the northwestern corner of Ireland. In this talk I return to the issues raised by those observations in a new context. The new context is defined in part by certain advances in syntactic theory, in part by the discovery of similar phenomena in
other languages and in other varieties of English, and most importantly by careful follow-up studies of the phenomenon carried out in the communities in which it was originally observed (by Lisa Hegarty (2011) and Alison Henry (2012) especially). These studies have uncovered a very complex pattern of micro-variation with respect to the quantifier-stranding phenomenon which I was mostly unaware of at the time of my initial work. The variations in question seem to be centered on networks of speakers which are very small indeed and which can be well described (as far as the syntax goes) in terms of the possibility or impossibility of stranding at various phase-edges. The paper (i) asks what theory of syntactic variation best allows an understanding of such patterns (ii) asks how we can provide theoretical accounts which do not gloss over data which is delicate, uncertain and variable but rather makes its delicacy the central explanandum (iii) asks what all of this might suggest about the process of syntactic maturation and how we might study it.