Reviewed by Mark J. Elson, University of Virginia
This book comprises eight chapters: ‘Thinking about morphology and morphological analysis’ (1–32), ‘Words and lexemes’ (33–72), ‘Morphology and phonology’ (73–108), ‘Derivation and the lexicon’ (109–35), ‘Derivation and semantics’ (136–56), ‘Inflection’ (157–95), ‘Morphology and syntax’ (196–225), and ‘Morphological productivity and the mental lexicon’ (226–57). The chapters are followed by a glossary, references, and an index. The authors note that their book, unlike others of its kind that emphasize theory, concentrates on description, analysis, and the fundamental issues that face all theories of morphology (viii).
A second, equally welcome, feature is the inclusion in each chapter of relevant data from Kujamaat Jóola, a Senegalese language, intended to exemplify the points made in the chapter and, by the end of the book, to have presented a more in-depth view of the morphology of a single language. The authors acknowledge that Kujamaat Jóola as an exemplar can be questioned on the grounds that its morphology is predominantly agglutinative and thus provides limited exposure to the less transparent phenomena of fusional morphologies, but they maintain that the introductory nature of the book justifies its choice (x). There will surely be widespread agreement with the consensus of comments included by the publisher that this book is a reader-friendly guide providing a good comprehensive introduction to morphological theory and practice, the latter by way of well-constructed exercises.
It should be noted that there are occasional data-related issues and inaccuracies or misleading statements. To name a few, Romanian verb forms appear without orthographically required diacritics (178), and the present indicative of umplea, cited as a representative of the second conjugation, appears with the stress pattern of the third (178). Spanish fue is third-person singular, not first-person singular (176); Italian orthography does indicate stress in verb forms, when it is final, thus, in the third-person singular preterit of regular verbs (89). Hebrew gender agreement of the verb with its subject is not limited to the present (199) but occurs in the past and future as well, although differing structurally from its manifestation in the present. The Russian past tense originally comprised a participle showing agreement, thus not an adjective in the usual sense of the term (199); syncretism does occur in the present indicative of the Romanian first conjugation, between the third-person singular and the third-person plural (178).
Of potentially greater pedagogical consequence is the absence of adequate discussion relating to the issue of the role of grammar (i.e. nonphonetic factors) in the distribution of allomorphs. Jan Baudouin de Courtenay and Roman Jakobson, for whom the issue was of great importance, are mentioned in the preface, but their important contribution to our understanding of allomorphy is not mentioned, nor is either included in the list of references. Some may also question the authors’ initial presentation of morphemes. These units, they claim without citing precedent, are ‘often defined as the smallest linguistic pieces with a grammatical (emphasis mine) meaning’, but add that this definition is ‘not meant to include all morphemes’, that ‘a morpheme may consist of a word, such as hand, or a meaningful piece of a word, such as the -ed of looked…’ (2). If it was their goal, given this qualification, to impart the commonly held view that morphemes may have lexical meaning as well as grammatical, it is difficult to see pedagogical justification for proceeding from a definition that limits them to the latter.