Historical linguistics 2003. Selected papers from the 16th International Conference on Historical Linguistics

Historical linguistics 2003. Selected papers from the 16th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Copenhagen, 11–15 August 2003. Ed. by Michael Fortescue, Eva Skafte Jensen, Jens Erik Mogensen, and Lene Schøsler. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. Pp. ix, 319. ISBN 1588115860. $162 (Hb).

Reviewed by Olga Thomason, University of Georgia

This volume includes a collection of nineteen papers presented at the 16th International Conference on Historical Linguistics held in Copenhagen, on August 11–15, 2003. The selected papers discuss numerous topics in phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics and use a praiseworthy variety of data from different Indo-European and non-Indo-European languages ranging from traditional choices like English and German to less studied dialects like Kok-Papónk. All presentations follow more or less the same format, beginning with an introductory part in which authors explain the goals of their studies and closing with their final remarks and conclusions. All papers offer helpful notes and extensive references. An index (317–19) concludes this volume and adds to its readability.

The majority of the papers in this book discuss issues of morphology. Most of them concentrate on problems involving grammaticalization, which demonstrates the significance of this theory for modern historical linguistics. Kasper Boye advocates a distinction between Danish raising verbs and auxiliaries in light of grammaticalization (31–46). Michael Fortescue argues against the wholesale borrowing of auxiliaries from Chukotian into Itelmen and uses examples of their similar grammaticalization pathways (along with other materials from these language branches) as additional proof of their genetic connection (115–30). Michèle Fruyt stresses the importance of Latin evidence for grammaticalization (131–39). Maria M. Manoliu traces the evolution of Lat et and sic in French and Romanian (159–77). Johan Pedersen reveals a strong possibility of reanalysis in process of the Spanish complex construction si mism- (199–223). Henrik Rosenkvist conducts similar research analyzing the development of the conditional subordinator bara in Swedish (224–39). Gudrun Svensson discusses the grammaticalization of the Swedish modal epistemic lär (257–77). Thora Vinther examines grammatical and semantic features of the Spanish construction ir + past participle (279–300). Finally, Kazuha Watanabe talks about the grammaticalization of aspect markers in Japanese, Newar, Parji, and Korean (301–15).

Only two papers on morphology are not connected with the theory of grammaticalization. John Ole Askedal is interested in a typological perspective of case loss in Middle Low German and in the Mainland Scandinavian languages (1–19), while Gaillynn D. Clements examines specifics of copular usage in rural Southern America in the framework of sociolinguistics and language variation (61–73).

Five papers deal with various phonological aspects. Paul Black comments on the problem that ethnoreconstruction in Kok-Papónk creates for comparative linguistics (21–29). Maria José Carvalho investigates the elevation of Portuguese final unstressed e and suggests an interpretation of the phenomenon that is different from the traditional point of view. She stresses the importance of taking into account sociolinguistic factors and specifics of oral and written language traditions (47–60). B. Elan Dresher and Aditi Lahiri discuss particulars of the English stress system development, noting the relationship between stress patterns and their realizations (75–85). Andrés Enrique-Arias adds to the traditional explanation of the Old Spanish shift from ge to se using the concepts of grammaticalization (103–14). Michael Schulte explains the Nordic loss of preverbs in light of metrical phonology (241–55).

Matters of syntax and semantics are discussed in the remaining three papers. Tamás Eitler analyzes word-order variation in Middle English texts by focusing on sociolectal, dialectal, and audience-related communicative factors (87–102). Rosa Maria Ortiz Ciscomani examines Spanish prototypical and reanalyzed ditransitive constructions in Spanish using the framework of grammaticalization (179–97). Silvia Luraghi presents the only purely semantic investigation concerned with the connection between the concepts of cause, beneficiary, and purpose in Greek (141–57).

This volume would have benefited greatly if the papers had been arranged topically rather than alphabetically by authors. The outcome would have had a much clearer structure and it would have been more accessible for readers.

Overall this publication presents a diverse collection of thorough investigations offering insightful discussions of primarily morphological and phonological problems. It is highly recommended to linguists interested in issues of grammaticalization.