Mapping spatial PPs

Mapping spatial PPs: The cartography of syntactic structures, volume 6. Ed. by Guglielmo Cinque and Luigi Rizzi. (Oxford studies in comparative syntax.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Pp. 304. ISBN 9780195393675. $49.95.

Reviewed by Asya Pereltsvaig, Stanford University

This volume is a collection of papers that deal with the one particular aspect of prepositional phrase syntax: the fine-grained articulation of prepositional phrases (PPs) that express spatial relations. This topic has been relatively neglected in the syntactic literature, a gap that this volume fills. It will be of interest to generative syntacticians as well as scholars of the languages discussed in it, including Romance, Germanic, and African languages.

The collection opens with an introduction by Guglielmo Cinque (‘Mapping spatial PPs: An introduction’) that reviews the relevant issues and summarizes the research in this area. Additionally, the volume collects seven articles, some written specially for this volume, others reprints of significant earlier work on spatial PPs. For example, the paper by Hilda Koopman (‘Prepositions, postpositions, circumpositions, and particles’) was first published a decade earlier—after circulating in unpublished form for some years—because ‘it constitutes the first elaborate cartographic analysis of the fine structure of PPs based on an in-depth study of Dutch and provides a background for many of the contributions to this volume’ (12). In line with the cartographic approach espoused by the authors of the first five volumes in the series, Koopman proposes an ‘exploded-PP structure’ that includes a PlaceP hosting stative prepositions inside a PathP hosting directional prepositions, as well as a number of other projections.

Marcel den Dikken’s contribution (‘On the functional structure of locative and directional PPs’) directly builds on Koopman’s by refining the structure and derivation of the lexical and extended functional projections of stative and directional Ps in Dutch and, and by drawing a parallel between the structure of exploded PPs on the one hand and clauses and noun phrases on the other.

Peter Svenonius (‘Spatial P in English’) further elaborates on the model proposed in these two studies with data from English. Máire Noonan (‘À to Zu’) adds French and German and argues for an even richer architecture of lexical and functional projections. Converging with her work, Arhonto Terzi’s contribution (‘Locative prepositions and place’) argues for the presence of a silent noun place, based on evidence from Greek. Enoch O. Aboh’s article (‘The P route’) is concerned with spatial PPs in West African languages. According to Cinque’s introduction, Aboh claims that ‘while Kwa languages have the ground DP between a directional/stative P and an (axial) part P (lit. to/at box inside), Chadic languages have the order directional/stative/P > (axial) part P > ground DP (lit., to/at inside box)’ (13). His insight is to relate this word order difference to the order of the possessum and the possessor in Kwa and Chadic languages by arguing that the ground DP is the possessor of the (axial) part P.

Finally, Werner Abraham’s contribution (‘Misleading homonymies, economical PPs in microvariation, and P as a probe’) is dedicated to microvariation in the use of morphological case and the linear order of PPs in non-standard varieties of German, where morphological case plays an important role in distinguishing between semantic stativity and directionality of otherwise homonymous PPs.