Monthly Archives: September 2012

Style-shifting in public

Style-shifting in public: New perspectives on stylistic variation. Ed. by Juan Manuel Hernández-Campoy and Juan Antonio Cutillas-Espinosa. (Studies in language variation 9.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012. Pp. vii, 231. ISBN 9789027234896. $149 (Hb).

Reviewed by Richard W. Hallett, Northeastern Illinois University

Containing an overview of current developments and perspectives in studies of stylistic variation and their applications, this book begins with Juan Manuel Hernández-Campoy and Juan Antonio Cutillas-Espinosa’s ‘Introduction: Style-shifting revisited’ (1–18). This beginning chapter provides a brief overview of stylistic variation research and an outline of the chapters to follow. The remainder of the book is divided into two sections: ‘Style and sociolinguistic variation in political discourse’ and ‘Style and sociolinguistic variation in media interaction’.

Four chapters comprise Part 1. In ‘Speaker design strategies in political contexts of a dialectal community’ (21–43), Juan Manuel Hernández-Campoy and Juan Antonio Cutillas-Espinosa offer a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the speech of the former president of Murcia (Spain). In ‘Style-shifting in the U.S. Congress: The foreign (a) vowel in “Iraq(i)”’ (45–63),

Lauren Hall-Lew, Rebecca L. Starr, and Elizabeth Coppock investigate the /a/-/æ/variation in the second vowel in ‘Iraq(i)’ by members of the United States House of Representatives. Robert J. Podesva, Lauren Hall-Lew, Jason Brenier, Rebecca Starr, and Stacy Lewis investigate the Southerner, Westerner, African American, conservative, and careful dimensions of United States Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s linguistic features in ‘Condoleeza Rice and the sociophonetic construction of identity’ (65–80).

Highlighting ‘the importance of methodological interdisciplinarity in modern studies of stylistic variation’ (82), Barbara Soukup focuses on shifts from Austrian Standard German to Bavarian-Austrian dialect in ‘Speaker design in Austrian TV political discussions’ (81–99). To show how style is phonologically structured, Robert J. Podesva, Patrick Callier, and Jermay Jamsu analyze the word final (-t) in the speeches of six prominent United States politicians: George W. Bush, Hillary R. Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Condoleeza Rice, in ‘Recency, resonance, and the structuring of phonological style in political speeches’ (101–17).

The five remaining chapters constitute Part 2. Arguing that parody is important for investigating stylistic variables, Jennifer Sclafani examines parodies of Martha Stewart and Newt Gingrich, two well-known American personalities, in ‘Parodic performances as indexical negatives of style’ (121–37). In ‘Popular music singing as referee design’ (139–64), Andy Gibson and Allan Bell address the following research question: ‘are New Zealand singers putting on an American accent when they sing, or do they actually find it difficult to “take off” in the singing context?’ (164).

Anna Marie Trester examines the style of dialect performance in ‘Performing style: Improvisation and the linguistic (re)production of cultural knowledge’ (165–84). In ‘Dialect as style in Norwegian mass media’ (185–203), Thea R. Strand discusses her findings from her ethnographic fieldwork in rural Norway. Lastly, by analyzing a weekly Mandarin Chinese lifestyle-shopping program in ‘“Carry shopping through to the end”: Linguistic innovation in a Chinese television program’ (205–24), Qing Zhang discusses ‘newly available stylistic resources that can be employed to effect new social dimensions’ (222).

This book will appeal to any linguist interested in stylistics, especially those working in political discourse and media studies.

Soliloquy in Japanese and English

Soliloquy in Japanese and English. By Yoko Hasegawa. (Pragmatics and beyond new series 202.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. ix, 230. ISBN 9789027256065. $143 (Hb).

Reviewed by Dennis Ryan, University Writing and Language Consultants

In this book, Yuko Hasegawa explores soliloquy as ‘a tool for thinking’ (1). Having recorded and analyzed the soliloquies of twenty-four Japanese native speakers and ten English-speaking study participants, the Japanese corpus consisted of 3,042 utterances (350 minutes) and the English one of 18,609 words (150 minutes). Japanese is particularly apt for the author’s inquiry because it is grammatically and lexically marked for interaction. H postulates that if such markers are removed, researchers can break new ground in understanding how humans process thought before using language in social settings.

In Ch. 1, ‘Introduction’ (1–39), H uses soliloquy data to demonstrate clear differences in participants’ structural language use in communicative and non-communicative settings. Ch. 2, ‘Sentence-final particles’ (41–71), discusses the use of the Japanese sentence-final particles ne and yo; ne is the equivalent to the English ‘Isn’t it’ while yo marks emphasis. Furthermore, ne is used when speakers match two pieces of information and yo in inference building.

 In Ch. 3, ‘Deixis and anaphora’ (73–103), H parses the data for Japanese demonstratives (e.g. kore, sore, are), equivalent to English this, that, and that over there, discussing their usage in terms of ‘deixis’ and ‘anaphora’. H confirms that ko-so-a are recurrent in soliloquy and that ko and a occur with or without an antecedent, thus leading her to argue that both are deictic. Ch. 4, ‘Gendered speech in soliloquy’ (105–37), describes the ‘differentiated gender speech styles’ of Japanese men and women, providing numerous examples from recorded soliloquies from men’s and women’s speech, which differ morphosyntactically and pragmatically.

 In Ch. 5, ‘Soliloquy and linguistic politeness’ (139–63), H discusses how polite forms are integral to Japanese grammar, with deference and distancing cooccuring when Japanese speakers employ polite speech. Plain speech, on the other hand, conveys intimacy, and the limitations of the two styles cause problems when speakers want to express warm but deferential feelings, which H terms ‘intimate exaltation’ (162–63). Soliloquy can be inserted into discourse to simultaneously index both deference and intimacy without offending the addressee (163).

Ch. 6, ‘The indefinite you in English soliloquy’ (165–93), presents soliloquy data that focus on ‘you in thought/language processing in English. The data show speakers repeatedly using you. H concludes that indefinite you might better be regarded as intrapersonal you in many instances, as the speaker clearly addresses himself; this also happens in Japanese soliloquiess (e.g. Omae wa nanto bakana koto o shitan da. ‘What a stupid thing you [the speaker] did.’).

This book makes a technically sophisticated argument for the use of soliloquy in the study of cognition, and H’s crosslinguistic facility and interdisciplinary range are impressive. H is a profound thinker and expositor on the theoretical level. My only reservation concerns her seeming lack of awareness of the tradition of soliloquy in Western literary texts, which reflect the greater utility of soliloquy in everyday life. Soliloquy in the West is at least as old as its oldest written document, The epic of Gilgamesh, and it shows up repeatedly in Greek and Roman antiquity as apostrophe. Notwithstanding this concern, H has written a thought-provoking book that I highly recommend to linguists researching cognition, pragmatics, and language function.

Second language acquisition abroad

Second language acquisition abroad: The LDS missionary experience. Ed. by Lynne Hansen. (Studies in bilingualism 45.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012. Pp. x, 268. ISBN 9789027241863. $135 (Hb).

Reviewed by Richard W. Hallett, Northeastern Illinois University

This edited book contains second language acquisition (SLA) and second language attrition research on missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), also known as Mormons. As the editor, Lynne Hansen, notes in Ch. 1, ‘Introduction: Investigating mission languages’ (1–9), this population is ripe for SLA research, as the missionaries typically spend around two years in a second language (L2) environment. This book is divided into two sections: ‘Acquisition of mission languages’ and ‘Attrition of mission languages’.

The first section begins with Ch. 2, ‘Language learning and teaching in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (13–28), in which C. Ray Graham provides a historical overview of LDS language training programs from the creation of the ‘deseret alphabet’ (16) to the establishment of sixteen missionary training centers around the world. In Ch. 3, ‘The development of speaking proficiency of LDS missionaries’ (29–49), Dan Dewey and Ray T. Clifford compare returned missionaries’ oral proficiency to that of undergraduate foreign language majors. In Ch. 4, ‘An examination of the effects of input, aptitude, and motivation on the language proficiency of missionaries learning Japanese as a second language’ (51–88), Jenifer Larson-Hall and Dan Dewey analyze forty-four missionaries who are native speakers of English learning Japanese as an L2. Lynne Hansen, Karri Lam, Livia Orikasa Nufer, Paul Rama, Geraldine Schwaller, and Ronald M. Miller investigate the lexical acquisition of German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish in Ch. 5, ‘In the beginning was the word: Vocabulary learning in six mission languages’ (89–108).

The second section begins with Ch. 6, ‘The lost word: Vocabulary attrition in six mission languages’ (111–34), in which Lynne Hansen, Andrew Colver, Wonhye Chong, Helama Pereira, Jeremy Robinson, Akihiro Sawada, and Ronald M. Miller examine attrition in the same six languages examined in the previous chapter. C. Ray Graham analyzes the L2 attrition of fifteen returned missionaries in Ch. 7, ‘Vocabulary attrition in adult speakers of Spanish as a second language’ (135–84).  In Ch. 8, ‘Savings in the relearning of mission vocabulary: The effects of time and proficiency’ (185–202), Lynne Hansen, Melanie McKinney, and Yukako Umeda apply the savings paradigm from cognitive psychology to the vocabulary (re)learning of Japanese and Korean by returned missionaries. Lynne Hansen and Yung-Lin Chen test the numeral classifier accessibility hierarchy in Ch. 9, ‘What counts in the retention of numeral classifiers in Japanese and Chinese?’ (203–20). In Ch. 10, ‘Syntactic attrition in L2 Japanese missionary language’ (221–44), Robert A. Russell examines particle usage and syntactic complexity used by a small set of returned missionaries. Lynne Hansen, James Gardner, James Pollard, Joshua Rowe, and Junko Tsukayama measure temporality in oral narratives via a new computer instrument in Ch. 11, ‘The measurement of oral fluency in mission languages’ (245–58). The book concludes with two bibliographies, one annotated and the other not annotated.

Overall, this book bolsters the literature on L2 retention and attrition.

The handbook of phonological theory

The handbook of phonological theory. 2nd edn. Ed. by John Goldsmith, Jason Riggle, and Alan C. L. Yu. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Pp. 970. ISBN 9781405157681. $219.95 (Hb).

Reviewed by Alejandrina Cristia, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

Since it has been a mere fifteen years after the first edition of this book, readers of this review may wonder if they should buy it again. The question turns out to be ill-posed, as it presupposes a constant ‘it’. The current edition is a radically different selection of essays. Below is a succinct overview of its chapters.

In terms of phonological units, only ‘The syllable’ (John Goldsmith) and ‘Tone: Is it different?’ (Larry Hyman) are discussed. Suprasegmentals are addressed in ‘Quantity’ (Stuart Davis), ‘Stress systems’ (Matthew Gordon), and ‘Intonation’ (Mary E. Beckman and Jennifer J. Venditti). In-depth discussion of types of synchronic phenomena are limited to ‘Harmony systems’ (Sharon Rose and Rachel Walker) and ‘Opacity and ordering’ (Eric Baković), with ‘Contrast reduction’ (Alan C. L. Yu) covering both mergers and neutralization. Interfaces between phonology and other linguistic components are covered in ‘The interaction between morphology and phonology’ (Sharon Inkelas) and ‘The syntax-phonology interface’ (Elisabeth Selkirk). Notably, D. R. Ladd prefers to speak of ‘Phonetics in phonology’ (emphasis added).

Another group of chapters focuses on kinds of evidence feeding phonological theory, including ‘Language games’ (Bert Vaux), ‘Loanword adaptation’ (Carole Paradis and Darlene LaCharité), developmental data (Katherine Demuth), and psycholinguistic data (Matt Goldrick). Also on acquisition, Adam Albright and Bruce Hayes integrate formal and experimental approaches in ‘Learning and learnability in phonology’. The incorporation of the chapter by Mirjam Ernestus and R. Harald Baayen reflects recent tendencies to integrate quantitative analyses of large corpora into the phonological evidence toolkit, which typically also require linguists to bear in mind ideas presented in the chapter ‘The place of variation in phonological theory’ (Andries W. Coetzee and Joe Pater).

Three chapters discuss the basic structure of current phonological theories. David Odden’s ‘Rules v. constraints’ argues against the rule versus constraint dichotomy. The chapter by Harry van der Hulst describes the properties of a number of ‘Dependency-based phonologies’. Finally, Gunnar Ólafur Hansson provides a general review of ‘Diachronic explanations of sound patterns’. From a different approach, John Coleman provides a brief history of computational modeling in ‘Phonology as computation’.

This overview may suffice to illustrate the markedly different approaches in the two editions. Nearly a third of the chapters in the first edition documented current issues in specific language families, whereas only the chapter on ‘Sign language phonology’ (Diane Brentari) could arguably be classified as such. In contrast, insights from large corpora, theoretical approaches to variation, and psycholinguistic considerations are uniquely represented in the 2011 edition. Even in chapters that have a counterpart in the first edition, there are important perspective changes from the particulars of a language or language group to general phonological principles, possibly as a response of the editors’ challenge to ‘ask what the broader questions are [and] pass judgment […] on the degree to which the field had succeeded in providing answers’. As the previous edition proved to be, this edition will doubtless be a key reference in the field.

Language and religion

Language and religion: A journey into the human mind. By William Downes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp. vi, 280. ISBN 9780521792233. $103 (Hb).

Reviewed by Abby Forster, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

In this book, William Downes seeks to answer the question, ‘What is religion in cognitive terms?’ (3). D argues that only a cognitive pragmatic framework, in which language is studied as part of cognitive psychology, can address this key question. Drawing on cognitive psychology (including Chomskian linguistics), relevance theory, and Kantian rationalism, D presents a theory of language use which shows how culture emerges from mind/brain systems. His theory, thus, offers an account of how religion emerges through the natural processes of the mind.

In Ch. 1 (8–52), D outlines his cognitive theory of religion. Taking a Chomskian approach, the mind/brain contains modules that are specialized for different domains. The modular mind/brain has an innate architecture that provides a ‘mode of construal of input’ from which human cultures are built (13). Religion is a cultural ensemble that emerges as humans process information using the scaffolding provided by the mind/brain’s innate structures. Religion consists of four primary dimensions: the supernatural, religious normativity, rationalized contents, and religious affect and motivation. These dimensions align with specific modular systems of the brain.

Ch. 2 (53–108) is focused on the application of D’s theory of cultural emergence to the element of the supernatural in world religions. The supernatural dimension must emerge in culture because the mind is governed by principles of relevance, and the mind-reading module of the brain understands all inputs as caused by some kind of mind. When the mind is an unknown, the idea of the supernatural fills the gap in embodied agency. The concept of God then represents all possibility and cannot, by definition, be comprehended (108). Language plays a central role in the cultural emergence of religion because it is through language that subconscious activity becomes conscious.

In Ch. 3 (109–62), D explains how human minds represent and disseminate that which by definition cannot be understood. He suggests that religious mysteries are disseminated widely because they violate the intuitive beliefs provided by the mind/brain scaffolding. In doing so, they are intellectually interesting and engage a sense of justice.

Chs. 4–6 elaborate on other areas of the theory. In Ch. 4 (163–94), D focuses on the critical rationality of religious belief, arguing that the concept of God ‘synthesizes all inconsistencies into a single simplicity; for example mercy and justice’ (194). Ch. 5 (195–226) expands on critical rationality by relating it to authority. The chapter discusses legitimacy and asks if religion could represent reality in a sense. Finally, Ch. 6 (227–63) addresses conceptual change and innovation, arguing that processes of innovation are inexhaustible and leave humanity to live in a state of philosophical uncertainty regarding its images of itself.

D’s work contributes to the relatively new area of the cognitive science of religion. His overarching argument that language makes thought conscious and, through that process, moral mysteries naturally emerge, offers a cognitive account of the connection between religion and language. The book may be of interest to scholars of the philosophy of language or religion, cognitive psychologists, and linguists specializing in religion.

Introducing phonetics and phonology

Introducing phonetics and phonology. 3rd edn. By Mike Davenport and S. J. Hannahs. London: Hodder Education, 2010. Pp. xviii, 257. ISBN 9781444109887. $35.

Reviewed by Pekka Lintunen, University of Turku

Phonetics and phonology are often discussed separately. Introducing phonetics and phonology combines these two subfields of linguistics into a single textbook. The earlier editions have been widely used as introductory textbooks at the university level. The current third edition expands the treatment of phonology with a more thorough discussion of optimality theory and a glossary of 143 items. Of the thirteen chapters, there are exercises for Chs. 2–12. Model answers are not provided. Each chapter offers suggestions for further reading, and chapters usually include a summary, a conclusion, or an overview. This edition also has indices of subjects, languages, and varieties of English discussed in the text.

As the title suggests, the book can be divided into two parts: Chs. 2–6 focus on phonetics, and Chs. 7–13 on phonology. Although internal references are many, both parts will work as separate introductions if that is what the reader needs. The treatment of phonetics is mainly supplemented by examples from English. There are, however, also examples from other languages in discussions of sound categories. Ch. 3 ends with a summary inventory of English consonants, and Ch. 4 ends with a presentation of four English vowel systems (General American and three from the British Isles). The phonetic discussion also includes Ch. 5 on acoustic phonetics and Ch. 6 on suprasegmental issues, with a relatively short six-page treatment of tone and intonation.

The phonology part mainly discusses features of English but provides many examples, including material in the exercises, from different languages. Each chapter introduces basic concepts such as phonological features, allophones, alternations, and rules. Ch. 10 focuses on phonological structures and has a short introduction to autosegmental phonology. Ch. 11 goes deeper into derivational analysis. Ch. 12, then, discusses optimality theory, and the final chapter details restrictions of phonological models.

Unlike some other introductory books focusing on English, this book takes into account various accents of English, especially, but not exclusively, from the British Isles. Largely for this reason, the system of symbols is not always consistent. For example, figure 4.11 does not have a length mark for the mid back vowel as the example does. The vowels of English in figure 7.4 do not correspond to any vowel system described in Ch. 4. The reason is undoubtedly a choice to avoid only one model for English. Although very interesting for advanced students, a beginning nonnative reader might be puzzled by the various accents.

Instructors will likely need to help readers to understand Ch. 5 on acoustics and Ch. 7 on phonological features, which include many numbers and details. On the whole, the book is very accessible. In its present edition, as the authors claim, this book can be used as a solid introductory book for beginning university students of linguistics, phonetics, or the English language.

Disability and discourse

Disability and discourse: Analysing inclusive conversation with people with intellectual disabilities. By Val Williams. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Pp. 272. ISBN 9780470682661. $104.95 (Hb).

Reviewed by Abby Forster, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

A persistent tension in disability studies, especially those focusing on intellectual or learning disabilities, is between the need for support services for everyday tasks and the desire to respect individuals’ autonomy in making major decisions about their lives. Using conversation analyses of interactions between people with disabilities and their support workers (as well as a variety of public encounters), Val Williams shows that this central tension emerges from the conversational work of identity and power.

The book contains fifteen chapters consisting of two introductory chapters and two main parts, which are each introduced by self-advocates (i.e. people with intellectual disabilities who are involved in disabilities advocacy). Ch. 1 introduces major areas of scholarship from disability studies that are relevant to the book, including the social model of disability. Ch. 2 gives an overview of conversation analysis that is accessible to a newcomer to the area. W discusses the general theories of interaction and identity in talk.

Part 1 focuses on individual voices. Using ample selections of dialogue from videotaped interactions, it highlights conversational interactions between people with disabilities and their support workers. Ch. 3 shows how disempowerment happens in talk with people with disabilities as when a turn to talk is taken over by a support worker or when people are repeatedly pressured to talk when they do not want to. Ch. 4, on the other hand, focuses on how supporting someone to be competent occurs through talk. Examples include when support workers give advice or keep someone on task. Ch. 6 looks at how support workers and people with disabilities use friendliness in talk to equalize their power. Ch. 7 shows how autonomy is accomplished in talk, for example, in decision-making practices.

Part 2 shifts focus to the collective voice of people with disabilities as it is fostered through advocacy groups and inclusive research projects. Ch. 9 shows how self-advocacy talk occurs in group situations when self-advocates bring private experiences into public. Chs. 11 and 13 focus on the complexities of labeling. Being labeled ‘disabled researchers’ brings particular disempowering challenges to research, which are explored. Additionally, W shows that the label is also used as a tool of power that calls on a collective voice. W calls attention to the contrast between the largely supported interactions in Part 1 and the strong self-advocacy and leadership exhibited by people with disabilities in the collective situations analyzed in Part 2. In her concluding chapters, W provides self-reflections on her methods and the implications of her research for change.

This book is targeted toward scholars of disability studies, and each chapter offers practical implications for support workers. It is also of interest for its methodology. The book provides a clear introduction to conversation analysis for those who are new to it. Furthermore, interesting for its in-depth use of inclusive research, W highlights the valuable insights self-advocates contributed to her research. Inclusive research may offer a balance between autonomy and support because, as W argues, through respectful support, people with disabilities can have a powerful voice.

Conversation analysis

Conversation analysis: An introduction. By Jack Sidnell. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Pp. 296. ISBN 9781405159012. $36.95.

Reviewed by James Murphy, University of Manchester

This book is intended as an introductory textbook in conversation analysis (CA) for undergraduates, and it fulfills this purpose, with thirteen chapters covering the most important aspects of the conversation analytic method. Before the start of the book proper, Jack Sidnell provides the transcription conventions employed in the book and discusses them in detail.

Ch. 1 places CA in its historical context, briefly discussing the ethnomethodology of Erving Goffman and Harold Garfinkel, which inspired the earliest conversation analysts Harvey Sacks, Emanuel Schegloff, and Gail Jefferson. The chapter also explores why the close analysis of actual talk is important to our understanding of language and society. Ch. 2 provides advice for collecting, transcribing, and making observations about spoken data.

Ch. 3 begins the main theoretical discussions by examining the turn-taking rules in conversation. S explains clearly how speakers arrange turns-at-talk, how they select the next speaker, and what occurs when talk overlaps. Ch. 4 looks at the non-serial organization of talk, that is, how actions are achieved in conversation. S cogently discusses the notion of the adjacency pair and conditional relevance. Ch. 5 discusses preference structure, which explores why, for instance, speakers disprefer turning down invitations and how speakers go about performing dispreferred utterances.

Ch. 6 examines longer stretches of talk. This includes pre-sequences and extensions of talk before the ‘nitty-gritty’ of conversation is reached, such as pre-announcements (e.g. ‘Guess what happened to me?’ (95)). Insert expansion and post-expansion are also discussed. S describes what happens when things go wrong in conversation in Ch. 7, which entails an analysis of self-repair (i.e. where speakers correct their own mistakes and infelicities) and other-initiated repair (i.e. where hearers seek clarification or repetition of a troublesome turn-at-talk). Ch. 8 provides a more detailed discussion of the turn and how it is constructed. S discusses how turns usually begin and end, and describes the importance of gaze and intonation. S also touches on how turns   can be built collaboratively when talk overlaps.

Ch. 9 explores techniques speakers use to maintain the floor for extended periods. S describes typical storytelling patterns and how couples cooperate to describe events. Ch. 10 focuses on opening and closing sequences in conversation and, in particular, telephone exchanges. Ch. 11 looks at the broad notion of topic, i.e. what a conversation is actually about. S discusses how speakers keep conversation on-topic, including methods employed by others to change or shift topic. S also discusses the problems with using the idea of ‘topic’ in CA work. Ch. 12 looks at conversation in a variety of contexts and discourse domains, including courtrooms and educational settings. The final chapter offers a summary of the previous chapters and of the CA research program more generally.

Overall, this book is an ideal introduction for students new to CA. It is suitable not only for those with a linguistics background, but also sociologists and anthropologists. It is well-written and filled with engaging examples of real-life talk. Perhaps the only element missing is some engagement with criticism of CA.

Doing justice to court interpreting

Doing justice to court interpreting. Ed. by Miriam Shlesinger and Franz Pöchhacker.  (Benjamins current topics 26.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. viii, 246. ISBN 9789027222565. $135 (Hb).

Reviewed by I. M. Laversuch Nick, University of Cologne

This book makes a much needed contribution to the body of linguistic research devoted to investigating discourse between differentially empowered agents within professional settings (e.g. doctor:patient; and police-officer:witness). The specific thematic focus of this book is the crucial role that interpreting plays in assuring equal access to and protection under the law. Consequently, the work directly confronts the tenacious prejudice that court interpreting is of minimal importance.

After the outstanding introduction provided by the editors, the first of eight articles begins with a fascinating contribution entitled ‘Interpreting at the Tokyo war crimes tribunal’ by Kayoko Takeda (9–27). This riveting case study provides many fascinating insights into the tribunal’s operation during the prosecution of Japan’s former wartime Prime Minister, Hideki Tojo. In doing so, it also powerfully illustrates how court interpreting is ‘conditioned by the social, political, and cultural contexts of the settings in which the interpreted even takes place’ (25).

More contemporary evidence of this assertion can be found in Shira L. Lipkin’s contribution ‘Norms, ethics, and roles among military interpreters’ (84–100). The investigatory focus of this chapter is Israel’s Yehuda military court. This case study of soldier-interpreters vividly demonstrates the extent to which a hostile social environment can adversely affect the services interpreters can provide and defendants can receive. This reality is in sharp contrast to the principle stating that ‘interpreters shall ensure that the duties of his/her office are carried out under working conditions that are in the best interest of the court’ (87). Obviously, this mandate grossly exaggerates the control that many interpreters actually have within the courtroom.

This professional reality is underscored by Susan Berk-Seligson’s case study ‘Judicial systems in contact’ (29–53). As the author describes in this study of Ecuador, interpreting services are a luxury which the state can ill afford to offer its multilingual multiethnic population. Thus, despite the fact that Article 2 of Ecuador’s Ancestral Languages bill guarantees the right to use one’s ancestral language in all administrative proceedings, professional court interpreting is a rarity. Importantly, the disjunction between legislation and implementation is sadly not uncommon; even in nations which would, at least theoretically, have the financial wherewithal to provide such professional language services.

What happens when this moral mandate is ignored is illustrated in the account by Bodil Martinsen and Friedel Dubslaff of a trial gone horribly wrong (126–62). Incredibly, although the court interpreter featured in their study openly admitted to being unable to properly translate the defendant’s statements due to inadequate training, the presiding judge allowed the trial to continue. When later asked to explain this decision, the judge offered the following justification: ‘[I]n view of my knowledge of French, I can’t tell how poor or not the interpretation was’ (153). In order to bring such miscarriages of justice to light, more linguistic investigations into courtroom discourse are essential. This book is an excellent step in the right direction.

Pragmatics and relevance in Spanish

Pragmatics and relevance in Spanish: Utterance interpretation and communication. By Xosé Rosales Sequeiros. (LINCOM Studies in Romance Linguistics 50.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2010. Pp. 302. ISBN  9783895868801. $90.

Reviewed by Zhen-qiang Fan, Zhejiang Gongshang University

Based on examples in Spanish, the book addresses issues concerning the theories and applications of contemporary pragmatics, especially the inference-oriented line of pragmatic research. Specifically, it discusses the problems of Gricean pragmatics and introduces relevance theory (RT) as an alternative pragmatic framework which offers a more unified account of human communication by integrating cognition and context, with special attention paid to the addressee’s processing effort and cognitive effects. The two overall aims include (i) seeking ‘to establish the nature and goals of pragmatics as the study of verbal communication, particularly in relation to Spanish’ (6) and (ii) arguing that ‘the remit of pragmatics is (a) the conveyance of intentions in overt verbal communication and (b) how those intentions can be successfully communicated by linguistic means’ (6).

The book is divided into three parts. The first part (Ch.1–3) deals with traditional pragmatics and its problems; the second part (Ch.4–7) is devoted to key theoretical issues of RT; and the third part (Ch.8–11) examines applications of RT. Ch. 1 provides a snapshot of the three parts and reviews major approaches in Spanish pragmatics. Ch. 2 explains the nature and goals of pragmatics, arguing that there is a gap between sentence meaning and utterance meaning, the bridging of which, by hearers, involves risk. Ch. 3 discusses the transition from the traditional code model of communication to Grice’s inferential approach, pointing out the shortcomings of each and laying a foundation for an alternative approach of RT, which is the main topic of the second part.

 Chs. 4 and 5 focus on the two principles of RT, i.e. the cognitive principle of relevance and the communicative principle of relevance, the difference being that the former aims at the maximization of the trade-off between effects and effort in information processing while the latter is aimed at optimization. Ch.6 explores the consequences of the communicative principle of relevance, and Ch. 7 investigates the distinction between explicit and implicit communication. Chs. 8–10 show the application of RT to various linguistic phenomena in Spanish, including disambiguation (Ch. 8), irony (Ch. 9), and metaphor (Ch. 10). Finally, Ch.11 offers a conclusion to the ideas presented in the book.

 One of the aims of the book is ‘to make a contribution to the development and application of relevance theory to Spanish pragmatics’ (7), and this book can be used as a systematic and positive introduction to RT. The book highlights the use of Spanish examples to test the explanatory power of RT, but only a limited number of phenomena are examined in detail (i.e. disambiguation, irony, and metaphor). A strength of the book lies in its drawing on findings from other areas, such as psycholinguistics (191–98) and artificial intelligence (198–200), to make the account ‘psychologically real and compatible with what is known about human cognition’ (49).