Monthly Archives: August 2012

A grammar of Old English

A grammar of Old English. Vol. 1: Phonology. By Richard M. Hogg. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Pp. 368. ISBN 9781444339338. $67.95. Vol. 2: Morphology. By Richard M. Hogg and R. D. Fulk. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Pp. 416. ISBN 9780631136712. $128.95 (Hb).

Reviewed by Stephen Laker, Kyushu University

A grammar of Old English is the most comprehensive work on Old English phonology and morphology to date. Following Richard Hogg’s untimely death in 2007, R. D. Fulk has done a superb job of writing the remaining chapters of the second volume (i.e. half of Ch. 5 and all of Ch. 6) and subsequently updating, revising, and referencing it with admirable speed and efficiency.

Volume 1, which deals with phonology, was originally published in 1992 and has been reissued to coincide with the publication of the concluding volume on morphology. It has already shown its worth over the years, with its detailed analyses and employment of modern linguistic theory. The contents of the reprint are the same, so they do not require a detailed review here. Its structure and layout are excellent, but the publisher must take some criticism. In particular, the large number of typographical errors in the first volume ought to have been corrected in the reprint. As a makeshift solution, Fulk provides a list of these on his website ( A subject index for Volume 1 and references for the second volume would also have been welcome additions. In contrast, the second volume includes an index and refers back to the first, but in an odd decision the publisher refers to it as ‘Hogg 1992b’, as if it were an unrelated journal article. The sensible idea of Hogg, followed by Fulk, was to start Volume 2 where Volume 1 left off (i.e. with Ch. 8). This would have created a two-part grammar more at one with itself (though ideally everything could have been arranged between two covers).

Volume 2 is divided into six chapters. Ch. 1, ‘Preliminaries’, provides an overview of the approaches, aims, terms, and limits of the grammar. It explains that the main focus is on inflectional morphology (i.e. compounding and other issues, such as affixation, are discussed only marginally). Ch. 2, ‘Nouns: Stem classes’, deals with the Germanic and pre-Old English origins of the later attested Old English nominal morphology. Ch. 3, ‘Nouns: Declensions’, analyzes the synchronic variation in Old English nominal declensions, with special attention to dialectal variation. Ch. 4 looks at adjectives, adverbs and numerals, a departure from other grammars that deal with these parts of speech in separate chapters. Ch. 5 covers pronouns, and Ch. 6 offers extensive treatment of verbs. Hogg’s methodology of clearly differentiating the diachronic from the synchronic dimensions is noticeable throughout. Other grammars do not provide nearly as much reconstructive information. In particular, the frequent inclusion of both Proto-Germanic and later Pre-Old English reconstructions of paradigms helps one to gain a clearer understanding of the origins of the variation found in Old English dialects.

The finished grammar is a landmark achievement and shows several advancements over other widely used grammars. Most obviously, it reflects progress in research over the last half-century and provides analysis on important points in the text and notes. While its research is thoroughgoing and erudite, it has a less matter-of-fact tone than other grammars, revealing where research is still murky. For example, the origins of the ‘to be’ paradigms are not fully understood; in this instance, however, the unique situation of Old English should have been highlighted more and ideas of Celtic influence at least mentioned. Another bonus is that the grammar makes excellent use of the Dictionary of Old English Corpus, which contributes to the clearer identification and location of forms, more discussion of dialect variation and interdialectal influences, frequency statistics, and the elimination of a surprisingly large number of erroneous ghost-forms lurking in other grammars and dictionaries. Through the use of this database, one feels closer to the primary texts when reading this grammar. Finally, metrical evidence is expertly used on numerous occasions to determine properties of problematic Old English forms. To sum up, anyone with dealings in medieval English will admire and value this profound gift to Old English scholarship.

Understanding morphology

Understanding morphology. 2nd edn. By Martin Haspelmath and Andrea D. Sims. (Understanding language series.) London: Hodder Education, 2010. Pp. xvi, 366. ISBN 9780340950012. $35.95

Reviewed by Anelia S. Ignatova, Polytechnic University of Madrid

This revised edition of Understanding morphology reaffirms the success of the first edition. It provides an introduction to linguistic morphology, bringing issues of morphological theories to the forefront. The book consists of twelve chapters, each followed by a summary, further reading, comprehension exercises, and exploratory exercises (extended). An extended glossary, a language index (104 languages), and a subject index are also included. This organization shows the authors’ methodological concern with providing students with basic concepts, a diversity of word formation patterns, and plenty of useful and necessary tools for analysis of either English morphology or the morphology of languages other than English.

 The first two chapters deal with analytic and (poly)synthetic languages, which are distinguished within a continuum. The goals of morphological research are explained, and two definitions of morphology are provided. Technical terms are introduced gradually. Ch. 3 concerns a system of morphological rules, based on concatenative/non-concatenative morphological patterns. Two alternative models of rule structuring are also presented: the morpheme-based model, where morphological structure is treated as a string of morphemes, analogous to syntactic strings of words; and the word-based model, which represents the features common to morphologically related words in word-schemas.

 The potential problems of a morpheme lexicon and a strict word-form lexicon are covered in Ch. 4. Word-forms and morphemes are ‘reconciled’ in a moderate word-form lexicon, where a lexical entry is not a morpheme but a morphological pattern, a generalization based on word-forms in the lexicon. An example from Russian involves word lexical entries of complex lexemes and word-schema lexical entries of morphemes (e.g. suffixes and roots).

 The overall goal of Ch. 5 is to determine whether inflection and derivation should represent two distinct systems in morphological architecture. The dichotomy and the continuum approaches are juxtaposed for that purpose. As in these two approaches the syntax-morphology interface is affected in a very different way, there is little agreement among linguists about this distinction. However, ‘a number of empirical issues argue against split morphology’ (107). Ch. 6 treats productivity as part of speakers’ competence rather than exclusively as part of their performance.

 Syntax-morphology interface issues (Chs. 7 and 11) and phonological vs. morphological/ lexical conditioning (Ch. 10) are developed in line with the latest linguistic research and will contribute to students’ natural involvement with theoretical issues. Ch. 8 emphasizes the importance of the balance between syntagmatic and paradigmatic description of inflectional structure for the description of morphological structure. The lexical integrity hypothesis is introduced in Ch. 9. Compounds, free forms, and clitics are opposed to phrases, bound forms, and affixes, respectively. Ch. 12 concerns frequency effects in morphology.

 This book is of great value not only to students of morphology but also to linguists in general, as it provides excellent guidelines to the research of morphology, a discipline which is considered ‘inherently messy’. The authors’ expertise in the subject, their honest concern about the future of the discipline, and its proper place within linguistics make the book an indispensable academic tool.

Gestures in language development

Gestures in language development. Ed. by Marianne Gullberg and Kees de Bot. (Benjamins current topics 28.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. viii, 139. ISBN 9789027222589. $120 (Hb).

Reviewed by Melanie McComsey, University of California, San Diego

Recent methodological innovations in studying co-speech gesture—afforded by advances in digital video technology—have been adopted across several disciplines with promising results. This edited book aims to unite such gesture research with the study of language development and will be valuable to linguists, psychologists, and cognitive scientists.

Marianne Gullberg, Kees de Bot, and Virginia Volterra introduce the book with their chapter ‘Gestures and some key issues in the study of language development’, outlining previous research and future directions for the study of gesture in relation to first- and second-language development. The authors take an innovative approach considering gesture in the context of ageing and language attrition, and not only language acquisition. Some of the important themes they suggest for further study include the role of gesture in input versus output, variation and individual differences in gesture, and gesture as a compensatory mode of expression.

The following two chapters focus on first-language (L1) development. ‘Before L1: A differentiated perspective on infant gestures’, by Ulf Liszkowski presents evidence that twelve-month-old infants point referentially, with communicative intent, and with cooperative and prosocial motives. The author argues that the emergence of pointing and representational gestures is motivated by a drive for social contact. In ‘The relationship between spontaneous gesture production and spoken lexical ability in children with Down Syndrome in a naming task’, Silvia Stefanini, Martina Recchia, and Maria Cristina Caselli ask whether gesture is related more closely to cognitive or spoken linguistic abilities. By comparing gestures of children with Down Syndrome to those of typically developing children, the authors conclude that gesture may compensate for limited spoken abilities when non-verbal cognition is more advanced.

The remaining chapters concern second-language (L2) development. In ‘The effect of gestures on second language memorisation by young children’, Marion Tellier investigates the respective impact of accompanying images and gestures on word memorization. She finds that memorization is improved when words are accompanied by gesture, suggesting that the combination of verbal, visual, and motor modalities enhances L2 learning. Keiko Yoshioka’s chapter, ‘Gesture and information structure in first and second language’, discusses the role of gesture in combination with referring expressions for L1 and L2 speakers (namely, Dutch and Japanese). The author’s surprising results point to the complexity of the relationship between gesture and the particular language being spoken. Finally, ‘Gesture viewpoint in Japanese and English: Cross-linguistic interactions between two languages in one speaker’, by Amanda Brown, presents evidence that L2 (English) proficiency, even at an intermediate level, affects gestures produced when recounting motion events in L1 (Japanese).

The chapters in this book span research on first-language development and second-language development, children and adults, and speaking and cognition; but they seamlessly cohere in their theoretical approach, which represents one of the cutting-edge directions of research on language.

Handbook of translation studies

Handbook of translation studies. Ed. By Yves Gambier and Luc Van Doorslaer. Vol. 2. (Handbook of translation studies 2.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. x, 197. ISBN 9789027203328. $135 (Hb).

Reviewed by Ferit Kılıçkaya, Middle East Technical University

This book contains brief overview articles, covering various issues in translation. The first article, ‘Advertising translation’, focuses on the pragmatic function of advertising material, product-oriented approaches, and the impact of electronic media. The second article analyzes translation from the agent’s viewpoint. The article that follows provides bibliographies used in translation studies. The following article discusses several issues pertaining to collaboration in translation, and an article entitled ‘Comparative approaches to translation’ touches on issues such as corpus, conceptual apparatus, and method.

In the article ‘Cultural approaches’, the author presents approaches to translations from several perspectives. The following three articles focus on the direction of transfer and how translators work in their native language, on how domestication and foreignization play a pivotal role in translation studies, and on the role of major approaches in translation evaluation. In the article ‘Hybridity and translation’, the author investigates how culture and the notion of hybridity can be bridged.

The article ‘Institutional translation’ focuses on how the concept of intuition can be realized in translational studies, and the following article’ presents linguistic theories of translation. An article on literary translation deals with sociolinguistic and discourse issues in literature, and an article on medical translation and interpreting focuses on the scientific and technical issues of medical translation. Another article investigates the use of metaphor in translation, citing Theo Hermans’ view of translation as mirror or reflection.

In the article, ‘Methodology in translation studies’ practices and contexts in data type in translation research are analyzed. The following article focuses on how translation theory can contribute to the study of minority languages and vice versa. Another article provides a brief history of the notion of a natural translator/interpreter. In ‘Neurolinguistics and interpreting’ the role of neurolinguistics in understanding the task of processing two languages simultaneously is discussed. The following three articles address the significance of orality for translation, the issue of handling verbal and visual material in translation, and the challenges of translating poetry.

The article ‘Pseudotranslation’ deals with texts which ‘resemble’ translations, and ‘Realia’ focuses on strategies to overcome the challenges imposed by culture-specific references. The following article investigates the issues that interpreters face when they are physically distant from where speeches are given. Also included is an article focusing on interpreters’ social ranking and group membership, followed by an article addressesing the status of translators in academia and on the market. Another article provides an overview of how stylistics helps translation to go ‘beyond the obvious in a text’ (154).

The author of the article ‘Theory of translatorial action’ discusses how translation has benefited from several approaches. The article ‘Translation policy’ highlights how translators’ strategies are structured in and beyond official settings. The following article discusses three types of translation problems: source-oriented, target-oriented, and process-oriented. The author of the following article, in a discussion of translation universals, investigates whether any aspect of the source text differs from the translated version. The final article focuses on challenges that emerge with wordplay in the source language.

The articles in this book constitute a well-structured reference book for anyone seeking an introduction to a variety of issues pertaining to translation studies. Readers will find the references and further reading sections particularly useful.

Language, cognition, and space

Language, cognition, and space: The state of the art and new directions. Ed. by Vyvyan Evans and Paul Chilton. (Advances in cognitive linguistics.) London: Equinox, 2010. Pp. iii, 519. ISBN 9781845535018. $68.

Reviewed by Melanie McComsey, University of California, San Diego

This book comes at a time of renewed interest in Benjamin Lee Whorf’s linguistic relativity hypothesis within the language sciences. It explores the relationship between linguistic variation and non-linguistic cognition via the semantic domain of space.

Following Paul Chilton’s brief introduction comes Part 1, ‘Perception and space’, consisting of Vyvyan Evans’ chapter ‘The perceptual basis of spatial representation’, which grounds spatial conceptualization, and indeed the book itself, in human biological systems.

Part 2, ‘The interaction between language and spatial cognition’, takes on linguistic relativity. In ‘Language and space: Momentary interactions’, Barbara Landau, Banchiamlack Dessalegn, and Ariel Micah Goldberg seek middle ground in the relativity debate, arguing that language affects spatial cognition online but not permanently. ‘Language and inner space’, by Benjamin Bergen, Carl Polley, and Kathryn Wheeler, reveals the surprising relationship between neurocognitive mechanisms for understanding spatial language and for perceiving space itself.

The chapters in Part 3, ‘Typological, psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic approaches to spatial representation’, each feature one of those three methodologies. ‘Inside in and on: Typological and psycholinguistic perspectives’ by Michele Feist, ‘Parsing space around objects’ by Laura Carlson, and ‘A neuroscientific perspective on the linguistic encoding of categorical spatial relations’ by David Kemmerer each model the value of cross-disciplinary approaches to space and language.

Part 4, ‘Theoretical approaches to spatial representation in language’, advances several innovative theories each taking prepositions as inspiration. In ‘Genesis of spatial terms’, Claude Vandeloise explores processes of lexical formation, while ‘Forceful Prepositions’ by Joost Zwarts brings together the spatial domain and force-dynamics through the notion of vector. Evans’ chapter, ‘From the spatial to the non-spatial: The “State” lexical concepts of in, on and at’, refines an earlier theory to account for polysemy as an outcome of situated language use.

Parts 5 and 6 offer rich descriptive evidence for how spatial language and concepts are deployed in spoken language, signed language, and gesture. These chapters include ‘Static topological relations in Basque’ by Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano; ‘Taking the principled polysemy model of spatial particles beyond English: The case of Russian za’ by Darya Shakhova and Andrea Tyler; ‘Frames of reference, effects of motion, and lexical meanings of Japanese front/back terms’ by Kazuko Shinohara and Yoshihiro Matsunaka; ‘How spoken language and signed language structure space differently’ by Leonard Talmy; and ‘Geometric and image-schematic patterns in gesture space’ by Irene Mittelberg.

Part 7 transitions from static location to the domain of motion with two pieces offering modifications of Leonard Talmy’s classic typology. In ‘Translocation, language and the categorization of experience’, Jordan Zlatev, Johan Blomberg, and Caroline David propose a typology of ‘motion situations’ based on human experience. In ‘Motion: A conceptual typology’, Stéphanie Pourcel’s typology is based on ‘language-neutral’ conceptual categories.

Part 8, ‘The relation between space, time and modality’, is comprised of Daniel Casasanto’s ‘Space for thinking’, Jörg Zinken’s ‘Temporal frames of reference’, and Chilton’s ‘From mind to grammar: Coordinate systems, prepositions, constructions’. These chapters consider the relevance of space in metaphor and non-spatial domains.

This ambitious project reveals extraordinary breadth, showcasing the truly interdisciplinary nature of current research on space and language. The book features scholars both well established and from a new generation, and heralds exciting new directions for this burgeoning area of study.

Meaning: A slim guide to semantics

Meaning: A slim guide to semantics. By Paul Elbourne. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp, viii, 174. ISBN 9780199696628. $24.95.

Reviewed by Joshua Thusat, Harry S Truman College

Although this book seems an impossibly slim introduction to the study of semantics, Paul Elbourne contextualizes, in eight chapters, the trends in this sub-field of linguistics and the history of these trends. In what could be described as an independent study, E conversationally explains how we analyze and make meaning, introducing us to the debate between referentialist and internalist views of word meaning, the many mathematical connections to analyzing meaning, and contextualization problems. This approach fits a wide audience, whether a new student to the field of linguistics, a schooled philosopher of language, or someone who simply wants to refresh their foundational knowledge.

Ch. 1 details the problems with defining a word. For E, this serves to introduce the subject of semantics and informs the reader of immediate complexities in identifying clear, universal descriptions of terms. With the example of a chair, E highlights the difference between the intension and extension of word meanings. Ch. 2 explains word meanings through the referentialist and internalist views. E presents the philosophical traditions behind these two views, branching from realists and the nominalists, and nominalism and Platonism. This is one of the most important chapters, as this debate reappears in subsequent chapters.

In his chapter on semantic properties of words, E goes through synonymy, ambiguity, and vagueness. Underneath each, other terms are introduced and explained, like generality (under vagueness) or polysemy and homonymy (under ambiguity). E presents an important study on ‘lexical activation’ using magnetoencephalography (MEG) to view electric currents in the brain. This study reveals telling information about phonological inhibition and semantic priming.

Ch. 2 is continued in Ch. 4 when E introduces how meaning is analyzed in sentences. E returns to set theory, but introduces the mathematical discussion of alternate universes, or possible worlds. E teaches negative-polarity items licensors to help the reader understand the idea of possible worlds. With such a complex discussion of sentence meanings, Ch. 5 eliminates some confusion by offering the necessary syntactic relationships. Showing the reader the varying nodes, and how constituents work on paper further elucidates how those relationships appear in our minds.

In Ch. 6, E introduces meaning and grammar by returning to Russellian set theory and possible worlds, but by focusing on lambda notation. In Ch. 7, E turns away from how we analyze words and sentences to have one kind of meaning and turns toward meaning and context. Indexicals are the focus, but the importance of indexicals is broken down by various professionals, like David Kaplan, who breaks sentences down into content and character. E moves on to other important terms like bound readings or bound variable readings, and bound anaphora. These are meaning varieties depending on context. This section also introduces a brief discussion of pragmatics, mentioning Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson’s relevance theory; but, as this is a book on semantics, it does not linger long. Finally, Ch. 8 sums up how thought makes language, or how language makes thought, introducing the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and its spectrum from strong to restricted.

Perspectives on translation quality

Perspectives on translation quality. Ed. by Ilse Depraetere. (Text, translation, computational processing 9.) Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2011. Pp. x, 273. ISBN 9783110259841. $140 (Hb).

Reviewed by Ferit Kılıçkaya, Middle East Technical University

This book, divided into four parts, focuses on how to achieve quality in translation. The first part focuses on the relationship between translation quality and translation training. The second part discusses machine translation. The third part addresses translation workflow. The final part deals with legal translation and literary translation.

Following the editors’ brief introduction, the chapter ‘A global rating scale for the summative assessment of pragmatic translation at Master’s level: An attempt to combine academic and professional criteria’, a rating scale designed to investigate the translation of pragmatic texts is described in detail. In the following chapter, ‘Comparing formal translation evaluation and meaning-oriented translation evaluation: Or how QA tools can(not) help’, the authors report on a collaborative project to evaluate whether students’ translations meet the needs of industry standards and compares how formal and meaning-oriented translation evaluations evolve. In ‘Number and gender agreement errors in student translations from Spanish into French’, the authors explain how number and gender agreement errors appear in translations conducted by sophomore students of translation, showing that the most frequent errors were categorized under grammar. The final chapter of the first part, ‘A lexicogrammar approach to checking quality: Looking at one or two cases of comparative translation’, investigates how a lexicogrammar approach can be applied to investigate the quality of a translation, comparing of two equivalent phrases in a French-English translation.

The second part opens with the chapter, ‘A contrastive analysis of MT evaluation techniques’, which analyzes, compares, and evaluates a corpus of source words translated with a rule-based machine translation (Systran 6.0) and a statistical machine system (Language Weaver). The following article, ‘MT evaluation based on post-editing: A proposal’ focuses on a methodological approach to automated quality evaluation of machine translation and compares the ratings with those obtained by human evaluation.

The third part begins with the chapter ‘Quality assurance in the translation workflow: A professional’s testimony’, which presents several quality assurance processes within the translation workflow that can be used in standard translation projects. In the following chapter, ‘A contrastive analysis of five automated QA tools (QA Distiller 6.5.8, Xbench 2.8, ErrorSpy 5.0, SDLTrados 2007 QA Checker 2.0 and SDLX 2007 SP2 QA Check)’, the authors compare and contrast several stand-alone software packages and plugins to carry out automated quality assurance checks, providing detailed charts on each error checked by these tools. The final chapter of this part, ‘Management of translation memory quality in the Spanish department of the Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission’, focuses on how translation memories are used in the projects in the Spanish department.

The first chapter of the fourth part, ‘Quality issues in the field of legal translation’, deals with how to maintain quality assurance in legal translation, adopting a variety of approaches. This part concludes with its second chapter, ‘The problem of self-assessment in literary translation’.

Overall, the volume provides in-depth analyses on quality assurance, one of the most important aspects of translation. Students and instructors at the departments of translation will find the projects and approaches to quality in translation discussed in the book extremely useful for their current and future studies.

A new look at language contact in Amerindian languages

A new look at language contact in Amerindian languages. Ed. by Claudine Chamoreau, Zarina Estrada Fernández, and Yolanda Lastra. (LINCOM studies in Native American linguistics 64.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2010. Pp. 211. ISBN 9783862880300. $102.

Reviewed by Melanie McComsey, University of California, San Diego

Amerindian languages have long enjoyed a prominent place in linguistics, but too often they are studied without regard to their long history of contact with European languages. The present book offers rigorous scholarship on Amerindian typology that is also firmly rooted in the region’s history of linguistic contact.

A brief introduction by the editors situates the book in contact linguistics literature. The first chapter, ‘“Sticky” discourse markers in language contact between unrelated languages: Tojolab’al (Mayan) and Spanish,’ by Mary Jill Brody, illustrates how both Spanish and Tojolab’al discourse markers combine in indigenous discourse structure, reinforcing a linguistic ideology that values repetition. Cristina Buenrostro’s chapter, ‘Some typological differences between Chuj and Tojolabal’, presents morphosyntactic evidence that those two Mayan languages are more typologically distinct than was supposed, due to loss of contact with each other and influence from other languages. Una Canger’s chapter, ‘(Changing) word prosody in Nahuatl’, compares sixteenth, seventeenth, and twentieth century descriptions of Nahuatl pronunciation, as well as old and new Spanish loan words to illustrate how Nahuatl may be losing phonemic vowel quantity and developing a pattern of word stress on the penultimate syllable. Claudine Chamoreau’s chapter, ‘On the development of analytic constructions in Purepecha’, examines analytic constructions that have developed alongside synthetic constructions without supplanting them; speakers can use either the analytic or the synthetic construction to different pragmatic effects.

The chapter ‘Typological differences among middle constructions in some Uto-Aztecan languages’, by Zarina Estrada Fernández and Rolando Félix Armendáriz, compares middle voice constructions in Yaqui, Warihio (Taracahitan), Pima Bajo, and Southern Tepehuan (Tepiman). In their chapter, ‘Language contact and language typology: Anything goes, but not quite’, Ewald Hekking, Dik Bakker, and Jorge Gómez Rendón, investigate the role of typological differences in Otomi, Quichua, and Guarani in how each borrows from Spanish. Anita Herzfeld, in ‘An evaluation of the linguistic vitality of contact languages: The English-based Limonese Creole of Spanish-speaking Costa Rica’, illustrates that the strong ideological link between language and identity contributes to the survival of Limonese Creole in contact with Spanish. Yolanda Lastra, in ‘Paucity of loans in Jonaz-Chichimec’, describes a situation in which this Oto-Pamean language has borrowed surprisingly little from Spanish, despite widespread bilingualism in the population. ‘Differences in incorporation of Spanish elements in Guarani texts and Guarani elements in Spanish texts in Paraguayan newspapers’, by Lenka Zajícová, examines the social, cultural, and pragmatic versus the typological factors that differentiate patterns of Spanish loans in Guarani from Guarani loans in Spanish.

Together, these chapters approach language change in America with sensitivity to both language-internal and contact phenomena. The chapters focus on change at the morphosyntactic and prosodic levels, but also address sociolinguistic and pragmatic factors. This book will be a valuable resource for scholars of contact linguistics, of Amerindian languages, and of typology.

Comparative Indo-European linguistics: An introduction

Comparative Indo-European linguistics: An introduction. 2nd edn. By Robert S. P. Beekes (corrected and updated by Michiel de Vaan). Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. xxiv, 415. ISBN 9789027211866. $54.

Reviewed by Mark J. Elson, University of Virginia

This book is comprised of two parts, covering general and comparative Indo-European (IE), each divided into chapters. The first part introduces the discipline, surveys IE languages and culture, and presents relevant linguistic concepts (e.g. sound change, analogy, and morphological change). The second takes the reader through the phonology and morphology, by part of speech, of Proto-IE. There are exercises accompanying each chapter in the second part, all new to this edition and pedagogically valuable. An appendix providing answers to the exercises, a glossary of terms, and brief discussion of articulatory phonetics, is also included, followed by a bibliography, relevant maps, illustrations, and indexes.

The main interest of this book may lie in its Leiden School view of Proto-IE. Perhaps the most important views that either originated with Leiden scholars, or, although proposed by others, have been integrated into the Leiden School include the following: in the proto-language, the existence of an IE-Uralic unity (31–33); in the phonology (119–20), an obstruent system which includes only voiceless segments (distinguished by the oppositions of tense versus lax and glottalized versus non-glottalized); and in the verbal system (282–83), a classification in terms of verbal suffixes correlating with different syntactic constructions (282–86).

The phonology and morphology of Proto-IE are competently and clearly presented, but the general principles of historical and comparative linguistics are less so in certain respects. We find sound change formulated in terms of phonemes rather than phones (60, 64). The author states that the total number of sound changes is ‘very great’ (63), although it is not, typologically at least. We also find the statement that ‘a sound change can only be conditioned by sound elements, i.e. phonetically’ (59). That may be true in the narrow sense of ‘conditioned’, but there is little doubt that morphology may play a concomitant, as opposed to a subsequent, role in the outcome of a sound change (e.g. the phonetically conditioned intervocalic loss of s in Greek). The author feels that the Greek sigmatic aorist ‘restored’ intervocalic s analogically (79), presumably on the basis of aorist paradigms in which s was not intervocalic, but this is questionable. The difficulty arises because the author does not see sound change in its synchronic dimension, failing to distinguish between underlying and surface representations. The statement that the principles of internal reconstruction are ‘quite different from those of comparative’ (103) is nowhere clarified and is disputable. The difference is better described as the domain of their database and not of their principles.

Finally, there are noticeable omissions in the bibliography (e.g. Meillet for Old Persian, Lunt and Diels for Old Church Slavonic, Watkins for the Proto-IE and Celtic verb, and Antilla for historical and comparative linguistics). Instructors will want to exercise care in using the general part of the book, and may prefer to replace it with one of the standard textbooks of historical and comparative linguistics. They will be well served, however, by the treatment of Proto-IE, although the Leiden School orientation may require special attention.

Fillers, pauses and placeholders

Fillers, pauses and placeholders. Ed. by Nino Amiridze, Boyd H. Davis, and Margaret Maclagan. (Typological studies in language 93.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. vii, 224. ISBN 9789027206749. $149 (Hb).

Reviewed by James Murphy, University of Manchester

The work under review brings together a number of articles presented at the workshop ‘Fillers in discourse and grammar’ at the 10th International Pragmatics Association Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, and two articles presented elsewhere.

Barbara A. Fox introduces the book with a discussion on why the study of fillers is of importance to both syntax and our understanding of human interaction. In Ch. 2, Vera I. Podlesskaya looks at Russian and Armenian data (among other languages) and gives an account of which syntactic constituents can be replaced by placeholders, in addition to describing their morphology. Makoto Hayashi and Kyung-Eun Yoon’s chapter shows how speakers use demonstratives in Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin in order to hold their places in conversation when they encounter difficulties in formulating a word.

Nino Amiridze discusses the interesting case of Georgian placeholder verbs which are less frequent than filler nouns like English ‘thingummy’. Not only do these verbs have the function of placeholders when speakers encounter lexical access failure, but, as the article explores, they can also be used deliberately by the speaker, giving rise to a number of pragmatic effects. Dmitry Ganenkov, Yury Lander, and Timur A. Maisak outline the development of placeholders in Udi and Agul, northeast Caucasian languages. Though the languages developed independently, the placeholders in both began as interrogative pronouns and have gained similar nominal and verbal placeholder functions.

Laura Dimock’s article explores fillers in an Austronesian language, Nahavaq. She finds that the different pragmatic functions of the fillers are distinguishable by the different prosodic patterns with which they are produced. She also notes that fillers are allowed to break otherwise strict phonotactic rules. The syntax of Nahavaq fillers is also described. Leelo Keevallik discusses the various functions that the Estonian demonstrative ‘see’ can have when acting as a filler. She finds that ‘see’ is used when introducing repair, to delay the production of a more specific noun and to allow the speaker to avoid using particular grammatical contingencies (typical placeholder functions). ‘See’ has developed other less typical uses, however, when used turn-initially it indicates a change in conversation topic.

Honoré Watanabe surveys fillers in Sliammon Salish, an endangered Native American language. Sliammon’s interjection hesitators do not occur at the word domain and instead are frequently found between morphemes and words, giving rise to Watanabe’s observation that those morphemes are clitics. Problems which arise in studying particles and fillers in under-documented and endangered languages are also touched upon. The final article in the book is Boyd H. Davis and Margaret Maclagan’s study of fillers in the discourse of Alzheimer’s sufferers. They find that speakers with Alzheimer’s are still able to use placeholders, pauses, and fillers appropriately even when the disease has worsened.

This book offers the reader a pertinent reminder that even the smallest of utterances has its use when it comes to the study of language in context. It is recommended for those interested in interactional linguistics, typology, and morphosyntax.