Monthly Archives: July 2012

Language and identities

Language and identities. Ed. by Carmen Llamas and Dominic Watt. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010. Pp. xiv, 306. ISBN 9780748635771. $35.

                                    Reviewed by Sharon Utakis, Bronx Community College, CUNY

Language and identities comprises a broad survey of the relationship between ‘different levels of our linguistic behavior and diverse facets of our identities’ (1). It is divided into an introduction and four sections, with a total of twenty-two chapters that vary in length, detail, and specificity of topic. Sections are arranged so that the categories of identity discussed are increasingly abstract, moving from individuals, to groups and communities, to regions and nations.

Part 1, ‘Theoretical issues’, contains three chapters by prominent language researchers. These are the most dense and abstract chapters of the book. John E. Joseph’s chapter gives an overview of the study of identity within linguistics and adjacent fields, Mary Bucholtz and Kira Hall summarize a framework for an analysis of identity within linguistic interaction, and Barbara Johnstone focuses on indexicality and how relationships between linguistic forms and identity emerge.

Part 2, ‘Individuals’, includes chapters by Jane Stuart-Smith and Claire Timmins, David Bowie, Nick Miller, Dominic Watt, and Anders Eriksson. This section is the least cohesive, with chapters on the adoption of sound changes, voice changes over the lifetime, foreign accent syndrome, speaker identification, and forensic speech science. Most of the chapters deal with the perception of speakers’ identities. Many are inconclusive but advocate for further study in these research areas.

Part 3, ‘Groups and communities’, is the strongest section of the book, with papers by Nikolas Coupland, Norma Mendoza-Denton and Dana Osborne, Emma Moore, Ben Rampton, Sue Fox, Erik R. Thomas and Alicia Beckford Wassink, Lal Zimman and Kira Hall, and Louise Mullany. These chapters problematize identity within a wide variety of groups. In general, the chapters in this section achieve the best balance of data and argumentation in the book, especially those by Coupland and Rampton.

Part 4, ‘Regions and nations’, contains the most traditional sociolinguistic work, with chapters by David Britain, Judy Dyer, Joan Beal, Carmen Llamas, Tope Omoniyi, and Robert McColl Millar. The regions covered in this section are limited: all of the regions discussed are located within the United Kingdom, with the exception of the chapter by Omoniyi, which focuses on postcolonial Nigeria.

On the whole, this book is a useful but uneven collection. In their introduction, the editors state that their goal for this book ‘is to offer firmer foundations for how and where to position identity among the external motivations appealed to in explanations of linguistic variation and change’ (5). Some of the chapters succeed in this goal, but not all. A very brief section at the beginning of each part might have been helpful, in order to make the connections between the papers in each part clearer.

Language and space: An international handbook of linguistic variation

Language and space: An international handbook of linguistic variation. Ed. by Alfred Lameli, Roland Kehrein, and Stefan Rabanus. Vol. 2: Language mapping. (Handbooks of linguistics and communication science 30/2.) Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2010. Pp. xii, 446. ISBN 9783110196092. $531 (Hb).

Reviewed by Asya Pereltsvaig, Stanford University

This book is a collection of articles exploring the core methodological and theoretical issues in linguistic cartography. The spatial variation of language is increasingly more interesting for both descriptive and theoretical linguists, as well as geographers, cartographers, anthropologists, and others. Visualization of language in space is also growing in its significance, as it is a precondition for correct interpretation of data by sociolinguists, dialectologists, typologists, and geolinguists. Moreover, with the availability of zoomable Google maps, Google Earth, and geographic information system (GIS) tools, old-style hand-drawn maps of languages or language families are no longer acceptable. This book provides a much needed discussion of issues involving the production of high-tech, accurate, and linguistically relevant language maps. The main issues addressed are what must be considered when drawing a map and how such problems have been tackled so far.

The book consists of an introduction followed by four parts: ‘Maps and the conceptualization of space’, ‘Traditions’, ‘Computerization’, and ‘Applications’. A separate volume contains all of the maps and a bibliographic overview of all of the atlases mentioned in the handbook. This list is extremely valuable as it represents probably the most important linguistic map collection in the world.

The first part of the book contains Chs. 1–7 and addresses the principles of language mapping and their dependence on an understanding of linguistic space. Specific issues include map projection, the impact of color, the semiotic character of maps, and the concepts of physical, social, and individual space.

The second part, containing Chs. 8–17, examines linguistic cartography’s past and present state, either by language (e.g. German, Dutch, Flemish, British English, North American English, Japanese), language family (e.g. North Germanic, Romance language of Europe, Romance languages of the Americas, Slavic languages), or nation. A separate chapter is dedicated to mapping linguistic typology. While the focus of these chapters is on reporting the outcomes of individual traditions, taken together they also present an overview of the worldwide potential of linguistic data.

The third part contains Chs. 18–25 and examines such current developments in linguistic mapping as digital editions of maps, internet-based analysis, quantification, GIS techniques, and map animations. While some of the discussion is bound to become outdated rather quickly, most linguists will find it extremely useful, especially for bridging the terminological gap between linguists and cartographers.

The fourth part (Chs. 26–32) contains a wealth of information on how linguistic phenomena can be combined with non-linguistic facts, such as genetics, infrastructure, or sociodemographic variables.

This book is accessibly written and contains a cornucopia of black-and-white and full-color maps. It is a comprehensive manual serving the interests of a variety of readers and filling a gap in ongoing linguistic discourse. The separation of the handbook into two volumes—text and maps—enables maps to be referenced in more than one chapter. It also facilitates the simultaneous reading of the text and the associated maps and eliminates the need to be constantly turning pages. Most importantly, it invites the reader to flip through a wide-ranging selection of maps and to draw inspiration from them.

Handbook of translation studies

Handbook of translation studies. Ed. by Yves Gambier and Luc van Doorslaer. (Handbook of translation studies 1.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. x, 458. ISBN   9789027203311. $158 (Hb).

Reviewed by Taras Shmiher, Ivan Franko National University

John Benjamins Publishing Company has started an innovative encyclopedic project in translation scholarship under the series title Handbook of translation studies. Among various genres of    academic writing such as academic and popular books, textbooks, articles, reference literature, and online databases, this book is itself located at the crossroads of different aims. It shares the task of a reference aid (encyclopedic description), a manual (didactic use), and a bibliography (a selective presentation of contemporary information flow).

The compiling principles differ from the Routledge encyclopedia of translation studies (1998 and 2008 editions guided by Mona Baker) and Übersetzung – translation – traduction: Ein internationales Handbuch zur Übersetzungsforschung (Mouton de Gruyter, 2004–2007), whose objectives are strictly academic and directed at the fullest representation of all of the primary concepts involved with translation and interpreting. The editors oriented this book to a broader audience of students, lecturers in translation/interpreting, and experts from other disciplines. This edition has been generated in conjunction with another John Benjamins project, the online Translation studies bibliography (, which has been available since 2004. As the editors state, they must constantly develop and adapt topical and conceptual maps of translation and interpreting research (1). The bibliography provides ample space and opportunities to categorize existing sources and prognosticate further development, and since the Handbook is available both in print and online, contributors are able to keep their entries up to date.

Seventy-three authors worldwide were invited to work on this reference book.   Eight universities boosted the project: University of the Free State in Bloemfontein (South Africa), University of Graz (Austria), University of Oviedo (Spain), University of Oslo (Norway), Institut Supérieur d’Interprétation et de Traduction in Paris (France), Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, University of Namur and Lessius University College in Antwerp (Belgium). The edition was also strongly supervised by the International Advisory Board, consisting of experts in Translation and Interpreting Studies from nine universities in Europe, Asia, and North America.

This book contains seventy-four topical articles, peer-reviewed and written by specialists in different subfields. The coverage is multi-faceted, including, in addition to issues in translation and interpreting theory, localization, machine translation, and the Internet. Some topics are chosen extremely successfully, taking into account their freshness and brevity (e.g. networking and volunteer translators, self-translation, transfer studies). The length of the articles is relatively brief and fluctuates between 500 and 6,000 words, each with a limited reference list; in the online version, a list of further essential reading will not be limited. The book also encloses an index of subjects.

Translation and interpreting research is abundant. The institutionalization of translation and interpreting studies shapes and contributes to this abundance by way of academic curricula, national and international conferences, and policies of publishing houses. It, however, faces particular challenges in the changing world of information supply, and this project is a valuable aid for both readers and researchers.

Morphology and its interfaces

Morphology and its interfaces. Ed. by Alexandra Galani and George Tsoulas. (Linguistik aktuell/linguistics today 178.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. ix, 353. ISBN 9789027255617. $158 (Hb).

Reviewed by Dimitrios Ntelitheos, United Arab Emirates University

This book is a collection of selected articles presented at the York-Essex Morphology Meeting at the Universities of York and Essex during 2006–2007. The book starts with an introduction by the editors and is divided into three parts, the first exploring the interface of morphology with phonology and syntax, the second with semantics and the lexicon, and the third part with psycholinguistic and developmental aspects.

In Part 1, Vassilios Spyropoulos explores the morphology-phonology interface with a discussion of case conflict in Greek free relatives, implementing a decompositional approach to case assignment. Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero and John Payne discuss the status of special clitics, arguing against theories that assign them phrasal-affix status. Ana R. Luís and Ryo Otoguro continue the discussion of clitics in European Portuguese within the framework of lexical-functional grammar. They explain the affixal properties of preverbal clitics as the result of the interaction of a morphological component and a syntactic component. Melanie J. Bell shifts the discussion to compound formation in English, showing that tests of phrasehood, such as stress assignment and lexical integrity, are unreliable and that a unified morphological analysis of all noun-noun compounds provides a more adequate analysis of their formation.

Part 2 starts with a discussion of tense features by Anna Kibort. Based on evidence from Kayardild tense marking, she shows that all morphological instances of tense are morphosemantic and that syntax is not sensitive to the tense value of the verb. Artemis Alexiadou discusses the aspectual properties Greek deverbal nominals, showing that certain nominals are interpreted as atelic and, thus, resist pluralization. Despina Kazana continues with Greek data, discussing determiner scope over noun phrase coordination within the framework of lexical-functional grammar. Kersti Börjars and Nigel Vincent discuss suppletion, the emergence of a new morphological paradigm from two pre-existing paradigms, which they show may be driven by semantic principles, based on data from Scandinavian modification. The second part of the book closes with a discussion of Archi morphology from a lexicographic perspective, by Marina Chumakina. She illustrates the development of an electronic dictionary of Archi, discussing problems associated with the lexicographic investigation of morphologically rich languages of this type.

Part 3 begins with a study of second-language clitic acquisition in Spanish by English learners. Maria J. Arche and Laura Domínguez examine the relationship between syntax and morphology by evaluating two acquisition hypotheses: the impaired representation hypothesis and the missing surface inflection hypothesis. They argue for an unimpaired narrow syntactic component, assuming that inflectional variability is caused by a deficit in phonetic form (PF) mapping. In the final article of the book, Spyridoula Varlokosta discusses the role of morphology in Greek grammatical gender assignment. She tests gender assignment to novel nouns by native speakers and concludes that formal gender-assignment rules determine marking to a great extent.

This collection is an important contribution to the current discussion of the status of morphology within grammatical components. It is essential reading for morphologists and other theoretical linguists, and for students interested in how the morphological component interacts with other linguistic components and to what extent morphological theory informs certain debates on the derivation and interpretation of linguistic strings.


Perception of Castilian Spanish intonation

Perception of Castilian Spanish intonation: Implications for intonational phonology. By Timothy Face. (LINCOM studies in phonetics 7.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2011. Pp. vii, 103. ISBN 9783862880461. $82.

Reviewed by John Ryan, University of Northern Colorado

Perception of Castilian Spanish intonation makes a case for why studies of intonation perception are necessary in explaining intonational contrasts in Castilian Spanish between (i) declarative versus absolute interrogative sentence types, and (ii) broad-versus narrow-focus sentence types. To do this, the author discusses the results of four experiments he has conducted, two for each of the areas specified above and the implications these have for current autosegmental metrical (AM) theory.

The book is organized into four chapters. Ch. 1 is introductory in nature and sets the stage for the remainder of the book in that it places the current study within the context of intonational and perception studies in general, and more specifically, in terms of those with a focus on Spanish. The chapter concludes with a brief summary of the book’s overall organization.

Ch. 2 is the first of two data chapters that is dedicated to the perception of contrasts in intonation, in this case between sentence types that are either declarative or absolute interrogative, in Castilian Spanish. Following a brief explanation of the differences in fundamental frequency (F0) that have been attributed to these sentence types, the author presents the data and his analysis of two experiments he conducted on the different phonological cues that might determine one or the other structure. Although results of both experiments suggest the primary cue in determining necessity is final F0 movement, other cues, as suggested by Experiment 2, may also play a role.

Ch. 3, the book’s second data chapter, turns the discussion over to perception of contrasts in intonation between sentences expressing broad versus narrow focus. Like the previous chapter, two experiments are conducted for this variable as well. Results of this second set of experiments confirm the need for perception studies as well as production studies in that it is not one intonational cue that determines focus type but rather a combination of cues that plays a role.

Lastly, taking into consideration the results of the four experiments that are presented in Chs. 2 and 3, Ch. 4 asserts two implications for AM theory. The first is that AM alone with its simple, binary tone distinction of H (high) and L (low) cannot accommodate the varied peak heights of Castilian Spanish that were indeed perceived by native speakers of the study. The second implication of these studies for AM is the generalizability of the latter’s compositional approach whereby resultant intonation is the sum of its various intonation contours. The author suggests that this may not apply in an across-the-board fashion for Castilian Spanish because of the redundancy in the various intonation contours found for one overriding cue that ultimately determines the type of sentence.

This book would be useful for anyone working in the area of intonation in phonological theory, particularly from the autosegmental-metrical perspective. It is also excellent reading for advanced students of Spanish phonology who exhibit an interest in the area of prosody.

The handbook of language socialization

The handbook of language socialization. Ed. by Alessandro Duranti, Elinor Ochs, and Bambi B. Schieffelin. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Pp. 680. ISBN 9781405191869. $195 (Hb).

Reviewed by Kanavillil Rajagopalan, State University at Campinas

This book is comprised of twenty-seven chapters that examine several aspects of language socialization, a theme that has lately attracted a growing number of researchers around the world. The book is part of the Blackwell handbooks in linguistics series, which has won wide acclaim from the scholarly community. Following an introductory chapter by Elinor Ochs and Bambi Schieffelin, titled ‘The theory of language socialization’, the remaining twenty-six chapters are  presented in five parts: ‘Interactional foundations’, ‘Socialization strategies’, ‘Social orientations’, ‘Aesthetics and imagination’, and ‘Language and culture contact’.

Tracing its roots to early insights in anthropology, the authors of the opening chapter highlight the paramount importance of socialization in child language acquisition and claim that, in the past, anthropologists paid scant attention to language. Thus, what is urgently called for is a multidisciplinary approach to language socialization research.

Many of the chapters included in this book report state-of-the-art trends in research. Olga Solomon, for instance, pleads for a thorough rethinking of the way that researchers have over the years approached the phenomenon of ‘baby talk’ (BT) and, based on evidence from autistic children, argues that what matters is not the register of BT per se but, more specifically, ‘certain kinds of BT that have facilitating and supporting properties for the development of communication and sociality’ (141). In her chapter, Leslie Moore turns the spotlight to repetition that paves the way for the formation of routines, an essential ingredient of language socialization. In their contribution, Alessandro Duranti and Steven P. Black look at verbal improvization (e.g. as in joking), drawing on variation and flexibility and its importance in ‘improvisational art genres such as jazz and freestyle in hip hop’ (459).

Shirley Brice Heath examines the role of language socialization in art and science, which has as yet been little explored and whose understandings tend to be markedly ‘different significantly across cultures’ (425). Kathleen C. Riley recognizes the paramount importance of cultural beliefs about language acquisition in shaping language socialization routines used by caregivers and educators. In her chapter, Debra A. Friedman looks at the role of language socialization in language revitalization, taking as her point of departure the claim that ‘[w]ith its emphasis on language use as a set of ideologically mediated cultural practices, the language socialization approach is well positioned to elucidate how such language ideologies are produced, reproduced, transmitted or transformed through everyday social routines’ (632), which she duly credits to Kathleen C. Riley.

This book is a valuable collection of authoritative surveys that cover practically all of the relevant topics under the rubric of language socialization. Many of the chapters also point in the direction of future trends, and the book is rounded off with a useful index of topics and names of key figures.

Syntactic variation and genre

Syntactic variation and genre. Ed. by Heidrun Dorgeloh and Anja Wanner. (Topics in English linguistics 70.) Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2010. Pp. viii, 364. ISBN 9783110226478. $140 (Hb).

Reviewed by Thomas Hoffmann, University of Osnabrück

All human languages are characterized by syntactic variation, with competing structures often being favored by different linguistic, cognitive, or social factors. The present volume takes a close look at how syntactic variation is motivated and constrained by genre and how specific genres are constituted by syntactic choices.

In their introduction (1–26), Heidrun Dorgeloh and Anja Wanner survey the field of syntactic variation, discuss the concept of genre and its relationship with register, style, and text type, and provide an overview of various approaches to the study of variation and genre. The rest of the book is divided into two parts. The contributions in Part 1 focus on the concept of genre, and those in Part 2 investigate specific linguistic phenomena and their relation to genre.

Part 1 begins with Janet Giltrow’s  chapter, ‘Genre as difference: The sociality of linguistic variation’ (29–51), in which she argues that form plays a crucial role in the investigation of genre and that function can affect form at a low level of generality. Following is a chapter by Tuija Virtanen (53–84), which presents a two-level model separating text types and discourse types, and shows how variation studies can profit from taking into account genre dynamics and text/discourse types. Maurizio Gotti (‘A new genre for a specialized community’, 85–110) documents the rise of a new genre, namely the experimental essay in seventeenth-century English, and Javier Pérez-Guerra and Ana E. Martínez-Insua (111–40) investigate the relationship of linguistic complexity and textual formality. In the following chapter, ‘Mein Problem ist/mein Thema ist (‘My problem is/my topic is’): How syntactic patterns and genres interact’ (141–66), Wolfgang Imo shows how genres are signalled by specific syntactic constructions and set phrases. Similarly, Cornelius Puschmann (167–91) finds that certain pronominal patterns are characteristic of the emerging genre of corporate blogging.

Various syntactic phenomena and their genre-specific use are the topic of Part 2. Susanne Günthner (‘Grammatical constructions and communicative genres’, 195–217) looks at non-finite constructions and was-questions in spoken German interaction, and Britta Mondorf (219–45) investigates genre effects in the replacement of reflexives by particles. Johannes Kabatek, Philip Obrist, and Valentina Vincis (‘Clause linkage techniques as a symptom of discourse traditions: Methodological issues and evidence from Romance languages’, 247–75) discuss the development of clause-linking in written Spanish genres using diachronic corpus data. The function of fronted locative constituents in fictional prose to recreate immediate visual experience is explored by Rolf Kreyer (‘Syntactic constructions as a means of spatial representations in fictional prose’, 277–303), and a corpus-based study of agreement in educated Jamaican English is the topic of a chapter by Susanne Jantos (305–31). Finally, Theresa Heyd (‘I know you guys hate forwards: Address pronouns in digital folklore’, 333–58) takes on second-person plural forms and their occurrence in email hoaxes.

Syntactic variation and genre study are two fascinating and vibrant research areas. As this book shows, exploring their mutual relationship yields a number of interesting findings that should inspire much future research.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .

Lawtalk: The unknown stories behind familiar legal expressions

Lawtalk: The unknown stories behind familiar legal expressions. By James Clapp, Elizabeth Thornburg, Marc Galanter, and Fred Shapiro. Pp.  xvii, 348. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. ISBN 9780300172461. $45 (Hb).

Reviewed by Mark J. Elson, University of Virginia

This book is an etymological dictionary of sorts, comprising seventy-seven entries (1–294), followed by notes (295–338) and an index (339–48). The phrase ‘familiar legal expressions’ in the title will surely mislead some prospective readers, who will assume it refers to legal terms in the conventional sense, which occur with some frequency in everyday life and are accompanied by a discussion of their meaning and origin. Few, if any, would dispute the existence of such terms (e.g. amicus curiae, battery, civil suit, class action suit, de facto, felony, habeas corpus, larceny, manslaughter, plea bargain, restraining order, subpoena, summons). For many, such terms will fit the authors’ definition of familiar legal expressions as ‘words and phrases that have a particular connection with law or are used in talking about law’(ix). However, the authors have reserved this definition for terms such as abuse excuse, affirmative action, attorney general, billable hour, blackmail, blood money, day in court, electoral college, indict a ham sandwich, kangaroo court, make a federal case of, politically correct, posse, rap, read the riot act, the whole truth, and many others. We do find terms of the more technical type, but only a few, including attorney (versus lawyer), corpus delicti, grand jury, hearsay, and testify. We also find terms that will not be familiar to all, perhaps most, readers, such as hornbook law and Comstockery.

My clarification of the contents of this book should not be mistaken for criticism. Beyond its potentially misleading title, it is a scholarly work treating in a serious and competent fashion a sub-component of the lexicon of American popular culture. The care and expertise brought to the task are reflected in the length and detail of the entries. The authors offer interesting and informative historical discussion of the terms they have chosen, accompanied by notes that include references to many sources, legal and otherwise. They themselves provide the best description of their work: ‘The accounts in this book…collectively constitute a picture window on American cultural history’ (xi). It is the emphasis on American cultural history in the form of relevant jokes, urban legends, and folk etymologies culled from literature, newspapers, and scholarly writing, that unites the entries and serves as the backdrop against which they are treated. Although the authors did not intend the book to be used as such, it might well serve pedagogically as a useful point of departure, in conjunction with an inventory of legal terms in the more usual sense, for a consideration of specialized lexicon in American English, and, more generally, of semantic change as well as the linguistic and socio-linguistic factors which are relevant to the stability of lexicon over time. The fact that the authors are not offering their work in that capacity, but only as a reference, enhances its pedagogical value because the terms are not considered within a theoretical framework or as part of a system. They would, therefore, as a database, require students not merely to read them as entries in a dictionary, but to interact with them analytically.





This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .

An introduction to Italian dialectology

An introduction to Italian dialectology. By Gianrenzo Clivio, Marcel Danesi, and Sara Maida Nicol. (Studies in Romance linguistics 19.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2011. Pp. 216. ISBN 9783862880416. $100.

Reviewed by John Ryan, University of Northern Colorado

An Introduction to Italian dialectology offers a refreshing and unique treatment of the major dialect groups across the Italian Peninsula by tracing their separate development from their common ancestor of Latin. The book is divided into five chapters, the first of which serves as a comprehensive introduction to the study of dialectology in general and the methodology to be employed in both examining and presenting the dialects studied in the book. This chapter discusses important tools of the enterprise, including dialect atlases and the historical-comparative approach when considering both the Tuscan standard and other dialects of the Peninsula. The chapter closes with a discussion of Uriel Weinreich’s (1954) notion of diasystems corresponding to the structural components of language (such as phonology, grammar, and lexicon) that will serve to both compare dialect varieties and organize the remainder of the book.

Chs. 2 and 3, the most substantive parts of the book, are devoted to the phonological and grammatical/lexical diasystems, respectively. Ch. 2 starts with a brief explanation of phonological theory and then proceeds to discuss the various phonemes and allophones associated with both the Tuscan standard and the other dialects, first vowels and then consonants, tracing in each case the evolution from Latin to the modern pronunciation. The chapter closes with a brief discussion of suprasegmental features, including syllabic structure and prosody. Ch. 3 begins its discussion of grammatical differences among the Italian dialects with André Martinet’s (1955) hypothesis regarding phonological changes which in turn induce other changes. Akin to the previous chapter on phonology, the next order of business is a brief explanation of morphological theory as an introduction to discussion of morphological diasystems, emphasizing articles, nouns, verbs, and other parts of speech. Following a brief section on syntax, the chapter concludes with differences in the lexicon.

The final two chapters of the book deal with sociolinguistic and modern-day aspects of the Italian dialects.  Ch. 4 deals with diglossia in the Italian Peninsula and the effects of contact of Standard Italian with other languages, both within and outside the Peninsula, including the results of contact with Italian within immigrant communities. Ch. 5, the last of the book, serves as a brief epilogue that addresses the state of Standard Italian today, with a special section on the effects of media and technology, as well as a discussion on the principle of least effort and its role in both language variation and change. After a short discussion on Italian in cyberspace, the chapter closes with some final remarks about concerns for the future of the Italian dialects because of technology and encroachment of the Tuscan standard.

This book, both introductory in tone and level of difficulty, would serve as an ideal companion text to a beginner’s course on the history of the Italian language as well as an introductory class on Italian dialectology.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .

A companion to the Latin language

A companion to the Latin language. Ed. by James Clackson. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Pp. xxvi, 634. ISBN 9781405186056. $199.95 (Hb).

Reviewed by David Elton Gay, Bloomington, IN

A companion to the Latin language is a comprehensive handbook on the various historical stages of the Latin language and their grammatical forms, registers, and regional and literary forms.

After a brief general introduction by the editor, the book is divided into five thematic parts. The first of these, ‘Sources’, looks at various sources for the Latin language. The idea of sources is read very broadly, and thus the section includes essays on the Latin alphabet and orthography by Rex Wallace, inscriptions and other non-literary documents by James Clackson, manuscripts by Bruce Gibson, and the Romance languages as a source for spoken Latin by Roger Wright.

The second section, ‘The language’, turns to the structure of Latin, with essays on Latin phonology by Matthew McCullagh; prosody and metrics by Benjamin W. Fortson, IV; inflectional morphology by James Clackson; syntax by Geoffrey Horrocks; vocabulary by Michèle Fruyt; word formation, also by Fruyt; and Latin particles by Caroline Kroon. The third section, ‘Latin through time’, includes essays on Latin within its Indo-European context by Fortson; archaic and Old Latin by John Penney; Classical Latin by Clackson; Late Latin by J. N. Adams; Medieval Latin by Greti Dinkova-Bruun; and, finally, Neo-Latin by David Butterfield.

The fourth section addresses literary registers, with essays describing the registers of Latin in comedies, by Wolfgang de Melo; epic and lyric poetry, by Rolando Ferri; satire, by Anna Chahoud; oratory and rhetoric, by J. G. F. Powell; historiography, by Christina Shuttleworth Kraus; epistolary Latin, by Hilla Halla-aho; scientific and technical Latin, by Thorsten Fögen; legal Latin, also by Powell; and Christian Latin, by Philip Burton. The book’s final section is ‘Latin in social and political contexts’, and includes essays on the social dialects of Latin, by Clackson; bilingualism in the Latin-speaking world, by Alex Mullen; the language policies of the Roman Republic and Empire, by Bruno Rochette; and the regional variants of Latin in the Roman world, by Giovanbattista Galdi.

The linguistics in the essays tends to be fairly traditional, which will widen the readership of the book, but the level of linguistic and philological sophistication varies considerably. While most of the essays will be accessible to anyone with a basic knowledge of Latin or historical linguistics, others, like those by Geoffrey Horrocks and Caroline Kroon, require considerably more linguistic knowledge than is often found among Latinists.

This book is not, it should be noted, a reference grammar; rather, it is a description of Latin in its myriad historical and regional registers and forms, which covers far more than the Classical Latin covered by most reference grammars. Such broad coverage makes the Companion to the Latin language a very useful book both for students of Latin and for scholars working on Latin as a linguistic or philological topic.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .