UG and external systems: Language, brain and computation.

UG and external systems: Language, brain and computation. Ed. by Anna Maria Di Sciullo. (Linguistik aktuell/Linguistics today 75.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. Pp. xviii, 395. ISBN 1588116239. $182 (Hb).

Reviewed by Roberta D’Alessandro, University of Cambridge

This volume is a collection of eighteen essays on the interaction of the grammar with external systems, the conceptual-intentional and the sensorimotor, in the sense of Chomsky 1995, 2000, 2001.

Anna Maria Di Sciullo introduces the essays in the book, which are organized into three main parts: ‘Language’, ‘Brain’, and ‘Computation’. In Part 1, ‘Language’, Daniela Isac, in ‘Depictives’, addresses the issue of object and subject depictive sentences. In ‘On two issues related to the clitic clusters in Romance languages’, Stanca Somesfalean explores the differences between clitic clusters in Romance languages. Edit Jakab, in ‘On the question of (non)-agreement in the uses of Russian imperatives’, presents an explanation for the different types of Russian imperatives, arguing that they are due to configurational asymmetries. In ‘Computational puzzles of conditional clause preposing’, Nicola Munaro explores the ordering restrictions in protasis and apodosis structures. ‘Clefts and tense asymmetries’ by Manuela Ambar is dedicated to the analysis of tense in Portuguese clefts. The last chapter of this section, ‘Generating configurational asymmetries in prosodic phonology’ by Evan W. Mellander, examines some asymmetries that are found crosslinguistically in prosodic entities.

Part 2, ‘Brain’, starts with a chapter by Thomas Roeper and William Snyder on ‘Language learnability and the forms of recursion’, where the authors argue that language learners have as a major task that of identifying recursive grammatical processes. Then, Sharon Armon-Lotem and Idit Avram examine ‘The autonomous contribution of syntax and pragmatics to the acquisition of the Hebrew definite article’. Helen Goodluck addresses the problem of ‘D(iscourse)-linking and question formation’ by presenting comprehension studies in children and Broca’s aphasics. Ronnie B. Wilbur presents ‘Evidence from ASL (American Sign Language) and ÖGS (Austrian Sign Language) for asymmetries in UG’. Ning Pan and William Snyder examine the ‘Acquisition of phonological categories’ by presenting a case study of early child Dutch, while on the prosody front, Matt Bauer presents two experiments on ‘Prosodic cues during online processing of speech: Evidence from stress shift in American English’.

In Part 3, ‘Computation’, Anna Maria Di Sciullo and Sandiway Fong describe a bottom-up parser for a theory of morphological selection in ‘Morpho-syntax parsing’. In ‘A minimalist implementation of Hale-Keyser incorporation theory’, Sourabh Niyogi and Robert C. Berwick outline an implemented parser with lexicon grounded on the incorporation theory of Hale and Keyser (1993, 1998). ‘Minimalist languages and the correct prefix property’, by Henk Harkema, describes a top-down recognition method for languages generated by minimalist grammars. Sandiway Fong examines issues in ‘Computation with probes and goals’ from a parsing perspective. In ‘Deep & shallow linguistically based parsing: Parameterizing ambiguity in a hybrid parser’, Rodolfo Delmonte presents an approach to natural language processing defined as hybrid. The last chapter, ‘Towards a quantitative theory of variability’, by Philippe Blache, presents a framework within which it is possible to express relations between different components of grammar.

This book is a mine of information, and as such it constitutes a valid reference for anybody working on language, brain, and computation. It is, however, not suitable for nonspecialists.