Monthly Archives: January 2008

William Dwight Whitney and the science of language

William Dwight Whitney and the science of language. By Stephen G. Alter. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. Pp. 339. ISBN 0801880203. $50 (Hb).

Reviewed by Gert Guthenberg, University of Georgia

Stephen G. Alter’s book on William Dwight Whitney (1827–1894) is the first complete biography of this important nineteenth-century American linguist and orientalist. Its main accomplishment is that it succeeds in unveiling Whitney’s sometimes downplayed yet pivotal contributions to the development of the study of general linguistics during the past century.

A very convincingly shows the influence Whitney had on the neogrammarian, Bloomfieldian, and structuralist schools, as well as on all forms of modern sociolinguistically oriented research. Whitney introduced the uniformitarian principle to the field of linguistics, rejecting the ‘organic’ view of language history that prevailed in his day. This allowed him to count grammatical analogy as an important factor in language change, a view that was not possible as long as language change was conceptualized in terms of degradation of an original systematic and structured stage. In allowing greater emphasis on ongoing processes of language change as well as on synchronic language states, the uniformitarian principle cleared the path for modern approaches to the study of language. In opposition to his contemporary adherents of the organic view, Whitney treated language as a social institution. This approach was at odds with the neogrammarian ‘mechanical’ rules of change, as well as the structuralist and, eventually, Chomskyan focus on an ideal language state that lead them to generalize from the speech of the individual to that of a group.

A demonstrates the multiple aspects of Whitney’s influence. Many of his ideas, ground-breaking and controversial when they first appeared, quickly became part of common wisdom among linguists. Since Whitney’s theories both cleared the path for many later schools of linguistic research and at the same time anticipated the critique that these schools eventually would have to face, no Whitney school of linguistic thought has ever developed. Although he never rejected the proposal that sound change acts without exceptions, he pointed out inconsistencies and variation in the speech of individuals and the linguistic community as a whole. He therefore did not pass for a mainstream neogrammarian. Although Whitney saw the material and formal aspects of language in a reciprocal relationship on a strictly synchronic plane, his theory could not be considered structuralism since he added that meaning is not only generated by word oppositions but also imposed by social convention.

A shows the importance Whitney’s theory had for the development of sociolinguistics and lexical diffusionism in the late 1960s. Whitney’s recognition of the present moment of exchange between speakers as a source of knowledge about any and every aspect of language change laid the groundwork for sociolinguists’ investigation of ongoing language change. In both his Sanskrit grammar (1879) and Proportional elements of English utterance (1874), Whitney showed a great interest in the relative frequencies of speech sounds in these two languages. In this research Whitney anticipates not only phonemic analysis in general, as pointed out by Leonard Bloomfield, but also the focus on frequency of use as determining mental representation in later usage-based approaches to the study of language.

The mathematics of language

The mathematics of language. By Marcus Kracht. (Studies in generative grammar 63.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2003. Pp. xvi, 589. ISBN 3110176203. $137.20 (Hb).

Reviewed by Sean A. Fulop, California State University Fresno

Books in mathematical linguistics are not published very often, and this one is certainly a welcome addition to the literature, as it is a highly independent and novel treatment of many mathematical aspects of linguistics. Kracht begins with a brief introduction that serves as an overview of the book, highlighting a major innovation of his overall approach to the mathematical modeling of language. In traditional mathematical linguistics, deriving from Noam Chomsky’s early work in the late 1950s, a formal language is simply a set of sentences, whether treated as strings simpliciter (most commonly) or as syntactic structures of some kind (occasionally done; cf. Philip Miller, Strong generative capacity, CSLI Publications, 1999), but K brings meanings into the fold and also treats elements of every syntactic category in a more egalitarian kind of formal model. For K, a formal language is an ‘algebra of signs’, where a sign consists of its exponent (string), its syntactic category, and its meaning. In this way, all the strings of every syntactic category can be admitted into the language and given interpretations as a result of his algebraic view—in algebra, one has a set of elements together with operations that act on some of the elements to yield other elements, so that both parts and wholes are included, as it were.

Ch. 1, ‘Fundamental structures’, presents the needed mathematical preliminaries, but K’s methods are quite novel because his command of mathematics is evidently great. Nowhere does he rely on ‘standard’ treatments, preferring to make everything up his own way from more basic principles. This has the advantage of presenting a highly unified perspective that is quite interesting, but it comes with the drawback that even the experienced mathematical linguist will find it essential to actually read the chapter in order to understand the rest of the book. It is clear from the outset that here we have no ordinary mathematical methods book in the vein of Barbara Partee, Alice ter Meulen, and Robert Wall’s Mathematical methods in linguistics (Kluwer, 1991). It also becomes clear very quickly that a decent amount of mathematics experience is a prerequisite. The chapter includes an interesting and original section on fundamentals of linguistics.

Ch. 2, ‘Context free languages’, discusses recognition and parsing in connection with regular, context-free, and semilinear languages, concluding with a useful section addressing the perennially confusing question of whether natural languages are context-free. Ch. 3, ‘Categorial grammar and formal semantics’, introduces the central novel contributions of the work mentioned above, viz. treating languages as algebras of signs that admit compositionally interpreted meanings. Here K also treats basic logic, lambda calculus, combinatory logic, and Montague semantics from his own perspective, including a tutorial run-through of Pentus’s proof that Joachim Lambek’s syntactic calculus generates exactly the context-free languages.

Ch. 4, ‘Semantics’, delves into various aspects of formal semantics, including Boolean semantics, intensionality issues, binding and quantification, and even dynamic semantics of discourse. Ch. 5, ‘PTIME languages’, discusses various approaches to formal grammar, all possessing polynomial-time parsing algorithms and loosely describable as ‘mildly context-sensitive’, namely literal-movement grammars, linear context-free rewrite systems, tree-adjoining grammars, index grammars, and K’s own revisionist ‘de Saussure grammars’.

The sixth and final chapter, ‘The model theory of linguistic structures’, presents a model-theoretical approach to various elements of formal linguistic structure, including categories, strings, allophones and phonemes (no, phonology is not ignored here as usual), and also ordered trees. K then treats numerous well-known grammar formalisms using the preceding groundwork, viz. transformational grammar, generalized and head-driven phrase structure grammar, and finally government and binding theory, after which the book simply stops in true mathematician’s form (mathematicians often do without such niceties as conclusions).

At the end, one finds a valuable bibliography that includes all relevant primary sources, and an excellent index that includes the numerous arcane symbols—handy when the reader has forgotten a definition. All in all, it is a wonderful book, highly worth studying (one can hardly ‘read’ the book in the normal sense of the word). The extremely original approaches that are introduced everywhere get a bit draining because no amount of familiarity with the literature will ease the reader’s burden, but they also have the great merit of providing an uncommonly uniform perspective on a very wide range of topics that one would expect to suffer from a disjointed array of approaches. The book includes useful exercises at the end of most sections (247 in all!), and this makes it easy to use for teaching (advanced) courses.

One slight quibble with K’s book is that it might better be titled ‘The mathematics of linguistics’, since it is really a unified set of tools for developing and evaluating linguistic formalisms, and does not really consider very many mathematical properties of languages themselves. That said, the book derives numerous important facts about the mathematical properties of linguistic theories that all linguists should be aware of, not least of which are: (i) Because so many currently studied syntactic formal frameworks possess identical language-generating power, empirical results showing that a particular framework can account for certain syntactic facts in this or that language are as worthless as they are sophistic; (ii) There is no way to determine a unique set of phonemes of a language, so there can be no single correct phoneme inventory.

A feature-based syntax of functional categories

A feature-based syntax of functional categories. By Michael Hegarty. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2005. ISBN 3110184133. $109.20 (Hb).

Reviewed by Antje Lahne, University of Leipzig

In this book, Michael Hegarty provides a study of the nature of functional categories in a minimalist model of grammar. The central point of the theory is a feature-based analysis of the structure and mapping of functional categories. It is then shown that this approach accounts for a number of syntactic phenomena, including Germanic V2, as well for data from language acquisition and specific language impairment (SLI).

Ch. 2 (‘A feature-based derivation of functional heads’) investigates the function and form of functional categories in a movement-based generative model of grammar. H rejects the concept of features projecting automatically and invariantly onto preidentified categories, and proposes an analysis of functional categories as matrices of morphosyntactic and semantic features (along the lines advocated by Alessandra Giorgi and Fabio Pianesi in their work of the late 1990s). Functional categories, being originally complex, are made up of distinctive bundles of features. These bundles are feature matrices that are mapped onto functional categories in the numeration. There are principles that constrain this mapping process. Ordered checking operations are guaranteed by ordered feature sequences.

Ch. 3 (‘Germanic verb-second and expletive subjects’) shows how this approach can be implemented to account for Germanic verb-second phenomena (in an approach similar to that taken by Owen Rambow and Beatrice Santorini in the mid-1990s) and expletive subjects in Germanic languages. Crosslinguistic variation is explained by differences in feature ranking and divergent constraints on features, which can result in different matrices of features being projected as functional categories.

Ch. 4 (‘Aspects of clitic placement and clitic climbing’) applies the aforementioned mapping principles to account for data involving clitic placement and clitic climbing in Romance languages.

Ch. 5 (‘Tenseless clauses and coordination’) provides an analysis for coordination structures of the type He should check out the book tomorrow and her return it on Saturday, and shows that it also covers small-clause complements of perception verbs.

Ch. 6 (‘The acquisition of functional features’) examines various syntactic constructions in early child English. The author argues that the same operations of functional-category construction are at work in child and adult grammar. The observed differences between the two systems are explained by child language operating on more limited feature inventories, which results in limitations for the number of functional categories projected within a clause.

Ch. 7 (‘The acquisition of adult functional features’) focuses on the development from child to adult grammar, yielding a more comprehensive explanation for the given data by assuming a development in the representational resources of functional features.

Ch. 8 (‘The representation of functional categories as a factor in specific language impairment’) applies the approach developed in the book to data on SLI. Basically, SLI is defined as a deficit in the representational resources required to project multiple functional categories within a single clause.

H’s book is a thought-provoking contribution, presenting several ideas that would merit being worked out in more detail. For example, the notion of functional categories entering the derivation as complex elements (i.e. made up of multiple features) contradicts basic assumptions of the cartographic approach to syntactic structures associated with work of Luigi Rizzi in the late 1990s. It would therefore be a rewarding enterprise to implement the idea of originally complex functional categories sketched out in the book more consequently (thus yielding a system opposing Rizzi’s more recent ‘local simplicity’ approach) and to write out explicitly how the mapping of functional features from the lexicon to the numeration works, and how the notions of ‘feature sequence’ and ‘ordered feature satisfaction’ can be implemented in a minimalist model (presumably not by referring to linearity rules).

A point of criticism is that the publisher’s use of endnotes rather than footnotes is a completely unnecessary nuisance to the reader. Overall, the value and interest of this contribution lies in the fact that it convincingly shows that a feature-based approach to grammar design has the potential to bring forth effective analyses and correct predictions in many fields of syntactic research.

Fundamentos de semántica composicional

Fundamentos de semántica composicional. By María Victoria Escandell Vidal. (Ariel lingüística.) Barcelona: Ariel, 2004. Pp. 349. ISBN 8434482568. €27.

Reviewed by Luis Alonso-Ovalle, University of Massachusetts

This book is an introduction to formal semantics aimed primarily at a Spanish-speaking audience with little or no background in formal linguistics. The volume is divided into ten chapters, which are conceptually organized in three units. The first three chapters are a broad introduction to some fundamentals of formal semantics (the assumption that the meaning of a sentence is given by its truth conditions, and the importance of the principle of compositionality). The next four chapters introduce an extensional semantics. Ch. 4 considers some basic semantic relations (entailment, logical equivalence, presupposition) and discusses the standard propositional-logic semantics of conjunction, disjunction, and the material conditional. Ch. 5 develops a semantics for a language containing proper names, adjectives, and both transitive and intransitive verbs. Ch. 6 is devoted to generalized quantifiers, and Ch. 7 to the semantics of adjectives (intersective, subsective, intensional) and relative clauses. The book concludes with a lightweight discussion of some intensional constructions. Ch. 8 introduces a Reichenbach-style temporal semantics; Ch. 9 discusses the semantics of some locative and temporal adjuncts, and Ch. 10 some modal constructions, including counterfactual conditionals and propositional attitude predicates. A brief introduction to naive set theory is included in an appendix.

The volume is more an overview of some topics of research in formal semantics than an illustration of the application of formal methods to the analysis of natural language. Its intended audience will find it provides a useful bird’s eye view of the discipline, although a more detailed consideration of the Spanish data is likely to be desired.

Formal semantics has seen an increasing interest in the analysis of languages that have been traditionally underrepresented in the literature. The publication of this book should therefore be welcomed as an opportunity to foster further semantic research on Spanish.

Image, language, brain

Image, language, brain. Ed. by Alec Marantz, Yasushi Miyashita, and Wayne O’Neil. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000. Pp. 272. ISBN 0262133717. $60 (Hb).

Reviewed by Jyrki Tuomainen, University College London

Linguistic description of language behavior and accounts of brain functions underlying language processing are currently not compatible with each other. The background of this book edited by Alec Marantz and his colleagues is the Mind Articulation Project, which strives to bridge the gap between linguists and cognitive neuroscientists. To reach this goal, it tries to implement the successful approach of visual neuroscience to the study of language and the brain. The book, based on presentations given in Tokyo in 1998 at the first symposium of the Mind Articulation Project, is an excellent introduction for linguists and other professionals who are interested in brain imaging of experimental research on language and other cognitive functions.

Image, language, brain consists of two parts, ‘Language and the brain’ (seven chapters) and ‘Image and the brain’ (five chapters), and covers a wide variety of topics on cognition and brain functions. The twelve chapters and the introduction are written by forefront linguists, cognitive scientists, psychologists, and cognitive neuroscientists who bring on their expertise with a clarity one can only admire. Most of the chapters are accessible to readers without much of previous conceptual machinery required by cognitive neuroscience, or linguistics for that matter.

The introduction by the editors appropriately sets the scene for the book and the Mind Articulation Project. It provides the reader with many of the basic concepts and background information needed to tackle the difficulties in correlating mind and brain. Another excellent feature is that it presents testable predictions about how linguistic operations could be carried out in the brain. Furthermore, the introduction cautions against overinterpreting the results of brain-imaging studies, and one is reminded, rightfully, that mapping of brain activity to a function is most useful when much is already known about the brain area that is presumably activated by a specific function. The other side of the coin is that brain imaging of cognitive functions in its best form is a business in which solid functional models of cognitive function guide the interpretation of brain activation patterns. Thus, brain imaging of cognitive functions should not be just a hunt for ‘blobs’ (i.e. activation spots in the brain images) for which a function will be assigned using hindsight and without proper task analysis of behavior.

In line with the tone of the introduction, in Ch. 1, Noam Chomsky suggests that despite extensive progress and optimism in many areas that investigate brain, behavior, and cognitive faculties, we are still a long way from the solution of the ‘mind-body’ problem, and there is still a lot to do with regard to understanding the brain correlates of much simpler cognitive processes than speech and language.

In Ch. 2, David Poeppel and Alec Marantz present a valuable review of different neuroimaging techniques that are used in investigating speech processing (which in this context denotes speech perception). This is a valuable chapter in pointing out the difficulties in trying to tease out different processing levels in speech perception. One can conclude that we are far from understanding the different transformations the speech signal undergoes, and are even further from neuroscientific evidence of a single abstract phonological component that would subserve both production and perception of speech.

In Ch. 3, Jacques Mehler, Anne Christophe, and Franck Ramus give an account of the initial and often highly remarkable abilities of the infant to recognize complex auditory phenomena such as the rhythm of the mother tongue, voice of the mother, sensitivity to auditory contrasts that underlie phonetic categories, and so on. They present a version of their phonology class hypothesis (refined in their later publications), one corollary of which is that infants are sensitive to the rhythmic aspects of language. The reason for this might be that the fetus has access to the prosodic features of speech, which are more tolerant to the low-pass filtering properties of the womb and abdominal wall than, for example, the acoustic features that correlate with phonetic categories.

Ch. 4, by Willem Levelt and Peter Indefrey, begins with a review of the recent version of a model of lexical access in speech production by Levelt and his coworkers. The authors then summarize the meta-analysis of brain-imaging studies of speech production by Indefrey and Levelt (2000; further refined in Indefrey & Levelt 2004). This is an important meta-analysis in the realm of psycholinguistics and brain imaging and should be read by all who are interested in the psycholinguistics of speech production.

Echoing one of the general themes of the book, in Ch. 5, Edward Gibson’s research testifies for the primacy of behavioral models and suggests that most of the progress in understanding the processing of syntactic structures owes to behavioral studies. The latest version of his dependency locality theory is presented in some detail, focusing on two resource-consuming aspects of syntactic parsing, namely, performing structural integrations (i.e. connecting words into the structure for the input so far) and storage cost (i.e. usage of working memory in keeping track of incomplete dependencies).

Ch. 6, by Angela Friederici, introduces a tentative model of the neuronal dynamics of auditory language comprehension. One interesting and commendable aspect of this model is that it includes prosody as an important processing component that makes a lot of information about syntactic and phonological structures available for the language processor. Ch. 7, by Masao Ito, provides an account of control functions of cognition and language.

Part 2 begins with a chapter entitled ‘Imaging neuroscience: System-level studies of the physiology and anatomy of human cognition’, by Richard Frakowiak. It illustrates the systemic approach to brain functions and brain imaging, which emphasizes the functional connectivity of different brain areas underlying specific cognitive processes. Ch. 9, by Hiroshi Shibasaki, describes the central control mechanisms of voluntary movement studied by multidisciplinary noninvasive approaches. Ch. 10, by Kensuki Sekihara, David Poeppel, Alec Marantz, and Yasushi Miyashita, focuses on the inverse problem in neuroimaging and describes how an ‘eigenstructure-based’ approach can be applied to extracting localized cortical activity from magneto-encephalographic (MEG) data. This chapter is valuable to expert readers, but it is an oddball in this book because it requires a mathematical background that one cannot expect from the audience the book is intended for. Ch. 11, by John Reynolds and Robert Desimone, focuses on competitive mechanisms subserving selective visual attention, and finally, Ch. 12, by Yasushi Miyashita, deals with the neurophysiological basis of visual imagery.

Overall, this book is an elegant example of research on the mind-body problem; it provides an account of an enterprise harnessed with enthusiasm created by current advancement in the methodology in brain imaging, yet accompanied with words of warning not to use advanced brain-imaging technology just to ‘see what’s happening in the brain’ without theory and prediction of what the outcome might be. One can never emphasize too often that true progress in (cognitive neuro)science lies in clever research ideas directly related to models and theories about the human mind.

The complete code of Hammurabi

The complete code of Hammurabi. 2 vols. By H.-Dieter Viel. Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2005. Pp. 799. ISBN 3895868604. $158.40.

Reviewed by Magnus Widell, University of Chicago

The large work under review here is an essentially unrevised, albeit slightly reorganized, English translation of the author’s German book Der Codex Hammurapi (Göttingen: Duehrkoph & Radicke, 2002). After a rather unclear map of Mesopotamia and a short acknowledgment, Viel offers a few words about the motives and methodology of the book (6–7). According to this section, the main reason for writing the book is to address the inconsistencies in previous hand copies of the Codex Hammurabi (CH), and to facilitate the study of this text for students and lay people of Assyriology. The Old Babylonian signs used in the book are based on E. Bergmann’s Codex Hammurabi: Textus Primigenius (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1953) and on a replica of the stele itself, which was available to V in the Knauf-Museum Iphofen. By including a complete sign list of all of the variants of the Old Babylonian monumental signs used in the CH, V hopes to provide the student with an easy and comprehensive tool for reading the text.

The statement of purpose is followed by a rather meager description of the codex and the stela of Hammurabi, in which several confusing and unsubstantiated statements are made. For example, V writes: ‘It is certain that to a large extent the drastic punishments were in practice not applied’ (10). Unfortunately, V does not explain why this is certain, nor does he provide any bibliographical references to a discussion of this issue. V also writes that the bloody punishments of Old Babylonian Law set it apart from the jurisdiction of Sumerian law, and that the ‘origin of these innovations must undoubtedly be attributed to so-called Canaanite classes’ (9–10). It’s not clear to the reviewer why anything in the CH should be attributed to ‘Canaanite classes’ (or even what ‘Canaanite classes’ exactly is supposed to mean).

The following chapter, ‘Structure of the Codex Hammurabi’ (13–70), attempts to introduce the student to the different persons, deities, buildings, and cities/countries occurring in the CH. While such an introduction in itself may be an excellent idea, the abysmal quality of both the language and the content of the chapter does not make this text suitable for anyone, especially not for students or lay people. The problems, misunderstandings, and inaccuracies in this chapter are too numerous to be listed here, but there are a few examples that can be considered representative for the entire chapter. The examples speak for themselves and require no further comments. Under Sin-muballit, V writes: ‘Remarkable is that under the eleven kings of the I. dynasty of Babylon only the predecessor of Sumula’il and he himself beared [sic] an Akkadian name. All other kings have names of Semitic origin’ (17). On page 32, we learn that Nintu is the Akkadian version of the Sumerian Ninhursag. Often, the poor English in the section completely distorts the meaning of a statement. For example, the description of Shamash begins: ‘The Semitic word for son became to the name of the Babylonian god of the sun, who sees everything during the day’ (33).

The remainder of the first volume is dedicated to the various cuneiform signs found in the CH (75–346) and a ‘Grammar’, which consists of five pages of paradigms (350–54). V provides a number of specialized lists with different signs or expressions. These lists, which cover both the monumental Old Babylonian signs used in the stele and their Neo-Assyrian equivalents, which often is the first type of cuneiform writing students of Assyriology learn, include lists of the determinatives (both in the CH and in general), the rare signs in the CH, and the Sumerograms used in the CH. In addition, V offers several complete lists of signs used in the CH organized according to a number of different systems.

The second volume of The complete code of Hammurabi contains the actual edition of the CH (363–782). V provides a copy of the original text using his computer fonts, along with transliterations, transcriptions, and translations of the prologue, epilogue, and the 282 law paragraphs of the CH. Full editions are provided for both the Old Babylonian and Neo-Assyrian versions, the latter being an artificial construction for students. The transcriptions and translations in the second volume are of much higher quality than the text in vol. 1. The simple reason for this is that they are copied word for word from M. E. J. Richardson’s Hammurabi’s laws: Text, translation and glossary (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000). For various problems in that publication that found their way into the book under review, the reader is referred to the reviews by Dominique Charpin (Revue d’Assyriologie 95.2.181–82, 2001), Gary Beckman (Journal of the American Oriental Society 122.1.178, 2002), and Jeremy Black (Journal of Semitic Studies 48.1.127–29, 2003). The volume ends with a chronological chart and five tables with the development of a few cuneiform signs and some alphabetic scripts, as well as metric conversions for the measurements in the CH.

In conclusion, a comprehensive English classroom tool for the CH with the Old Babylonian monumental signs and complete transliterations of the text is long overdue. However, The complete code of Hammurabi cannot be recommended to either the student or the teacher of Assyriology. Students learn by translating texts and using the tools of the field, not by being provided with transliterations and translations of dubious quality without any explanations or commentary whatsoever. The countless factual mistakes and the appalling English of the book, which is reminiscent of translations obtained online through BabelFish, cast serious doubts on the editorial and peer-review policies of LINCOM Europa. My advice to students and lay people who wish to study the CH is to procure the two volumes of R. Borger’s Babylonisch-Assyrische Lesestücke (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1979) and Bergmann’s original hand copy Codex Hammurabi mentioned above. As a grammar, they might want to consider J. Huehnergard’s A grammar of Akkadian (Eisenbrauns: Winona Lake, 2000), which also contains a sign list with the Old Babylonian monumental signs.

Quechua-Spanish bilingualism: Interference and convergence in functional categories

Quechua-Spanish bilingualism: Interference and convergence in functional categories. By Liliana Sánchez. (Language acquisition and language disorders 35.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2003. Pp. x, 189. ISBN 1588114716. $119 (Hb).

Reviewed by J. Clancy Clements, Indiana University

The present book examines the phenomena of interference and convergence in a Spanish-Quechua contact situation in Peru. The study, following a universal-grammar-type model, examines the issues of interference and convergence with a focus on functional categories within the mind of a bilingual person. As defined by Sánchez, functional interference is ‘the activation of functional features in one language triggered by input in the other language’ in the bilingual mind (13). It is argued that this activation process generates syntactic changes in the bilingual grammar of the speaker. Functional convergence, by contrast, is defined here as ‘the specification of a common set of features shared by the equivalent functional categories in the two languages spoken by the bilingual individual’ (15). This specification occurs when a set of features not activated by one of the languages is frequently activated by input in the other language within the mind of the bilingual speaker. These functional features are assumed to behave independently of lexical items. That is, the interference among members of lexical categories does not necessarily generate interference of functional categories.

The data used for the study were collected from three informant groups with the help of a data-elicitation task designed by S. The groups consisted of one ‘monolingual’ urban group of thirty-six Spanish-speaking children who had passive knowledge of Quechua but did not speak it, and two actively bilingual groups (numbering thirty and twenty-eight subjects respectively) from two different rural areas. The instruments used to collect the data were a picture-based storytelling task and a picture-sentence matching task (in Appendices 1 and 2).

After a detailed discussion of the data, S presents her case that the results of the studies are evidence of functional interference in Quechua-Spanish bilingual children, specifically with reference to a range of phenomena: in bilingual Quechua, predominance of SVO instead of SOV order, dropping of the Quechua accusative marker –ta, and the emergence of an indefinite determiner; in bilingual Spanish, the gender-neutral specification of clitics and the emergence of null objects as continuing topics.

In her conclusions, S speaks about the implications of the results of her study for bilingual acquisition theories and mentions ideas for further research, hypothesizing what other types of interference would likely be found in the contact situation she has studied (e.g. evidence of evidentiality marking in Spanish due to the influence of the corresponding functional categories in Quechua). She includes two additional appendices that contain examples of two varieties of Quechua that were studied, as well as lists of transitive verbs from the Spanish and Quechua varieties that were analyzed. The type of analysis will be of interest to universal-grammar-oriented scholars, but the data themselves, the descriptions of the contact situations, and the instrument the author developed to elicit her data will be of keen interest to all researchers and students of contact-induced language change and language change in general.

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.

A grammar of Mosetén

A grammar of Mosetén. By Jeanette Sakel. (Mouton grammar library 33.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2004. Pp. xxxi, 504. ISBN 9783110183405. $235.20 (Hb).

Reviewed by Harald Hammarström, Chalmers University

This grammar of Mosetén, a revised version of Sakel’s Ph.D. thesis (University of Nijmegen, 2002), is a full-length description of the tiny Mosetenan (or Mosetén-Chimane) family on the eastern foothills of the Andes in Bolivia. There are three languages/dialects within this family: Mosetén of Covendo, Mosetén of Santa Ana, and Chimane. The Mosetén consider themselves ethnically distinct from Chimane, but all three forms of speech are actually mutually intelligible, and thus should be considered one language from a purely linguistic point of view. The present grammar describes the dialect of Covendo, which is an endangered language/dialect (even if not immediately dying) and has an estimated 600 speakers (Santa Ana has 150–200), almost all bilingual, who have been served by missionaries for 200 years. This is in contrast to Chimane, whose 4,000+ speakers have resisted missionaries until recently and who do not have an endangered sociolinguistic profile.

Section 1.4, ‘The history of the Mosetenes and previous research’, justly dismisses earlier lexicostatistical attempts to establish a wider genetic relation for Mosetenan. A certain amount of linguistic material on Mosetén by missionaries and travelers has been in print for a long time, and there is a recent (1997) New Testament translation for Chimane, plus a manuscript dictionary and grammar materials (which are inaccessible to most linguists). The present work is based on fieldwork and is the first full-length, modern, typologically oriented grammar.

The phonology of Moséten has some interesting points: typical consonant and vowel inventory, with no tone, but it has nasal vowels. There is nasal vowel harmony that spreads from stems, and a dozen verbs have vowel-quality harmony triggered by suffixes. Morphologically there are prefixes, one infix, and many suffixes; verb morphology, as we shall see, is especially massive. There are many clitics serving case-marking and clausal functions. Partial and full reduplication is active in several word classes. As in many newer grammars, the book contains a separate section on morphophonological processes, allowing leaner-individual morpheme-function accounts later in the book.

Category-changing morphology in Mosetén includes derivational affixes and noun incorporation. Mosetén has a gender system like French, a cross-referencing verb reminiscent of Bantu, and a macrofunctional linker reminiscent of some Southeast Asian languages. The macrofunctional linker produces structures comparable to noun compounds; it introduces relative clauses; it sanctions adjectives, possessives, verbal participles and ordinals; and it has a few further uses as well. The verb can be loaded very heavily, with markers of voice derivation, aspect, motion, and subject and object gender-number reference.

The grammar at hand is complete, as it contains chapters on basic and complex clauses and discourse particles. Word order is pragmatically variable, but the basic order is AVO for transitive clauses and SV for intransitives (a conclusion substantiated by corpus-based statistics in an appendix). Often, however, a clause has no overt subject/object noun-phrase arguments as the verb carries so much information alone. Noun phrases can be discontinuous and relative clauses may precede their head, but may also follow it, especially if they are long.

This book is a must for typologists, reference libraries, and Andean language specialists. The orientation, however, is strongly toward the typological-functional, and the book does not have a lot of information on history and ethnography, language prehistory through loans, or comparative studies. The presence of endnotes instead of footnotes is an editorial failure—with 291 of them one wastes reading time flipping back and forth—in an otherwise fine book.

Rules and representations

Rules and representations. By Noam Chomsky. Foreword by Norbert Hornstein. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005. Pp iii, 299. ISBN 0231132719. $25.

Reviewed by Sharbani Banerji, Ghaziabad, India

Rules and representations initiates the principles-and-parameters approach in the real sense. First published in 1980, the first four chapters of Part 1 are based on Chomsky’s 1978 Woodbridge lectures. The chapters in Part 2 are based on two lectures delivered in 1976. This edition begins with a foreword by Norbert Hornstein extensively discussing how Chomsky’s impact in linguistics, philosophy, and psychology has changed the way we think about language.

Chomsky postulates, and proves through numerous arguments, that the study of language is part of human biology, that the mind should be conceived of as modular in structure, a system of mental organs, of which the language faculty is one. The grammar represented in the mind is a real object, which grows in our mind. There is a genetically determined initial state, the universal grammar, that allows for several possible realizations. Each such possible realization is a possible final steady state, the grammar of a specific language.

In the foreword, ‘Chomsky’s natural philosophy’ (vii–xlix), Norbert Hornstein claims that Chomsky’s central conceptual contribution has three interrelated parts. First, we must shift from the study of (linguistic) behavior to the study of the structures and etiologies of mental/brain states. Second, we must adopt the abstractions and idealizations characteristic of the Galilean approach in the physical sciences to the study of mental sciences, too—in particular, to the study of language. Third, Chomsky has demonstrated how to actually do it, by developing research tools and strategies. The most important of these is the well-known ‘poverty of stimulus argument’.

Ch. 1, ‘Mind and body’ (346), argues that the number faculty, the language faculty, and others are ‘mental organs’, analogous to the visual system, and so on. In Ch. 2, ‘Structures, capacities, and conventions’ (4787), Chomsky gives clinical evidence to prove that to ‘know a language’ is to be in a certain mental state, composed of structures of rules and principles. Ch. 3, ‘Knowledge of grammar’ (89140), argues that the ‘knowledge of grammar’ is tacit. In this context, it is demonstrated that the properties of a wide-scope quantifier like any must be expressed in logical form (LF).

Ch. 4, ‘Some elements of grammar’ (14181) gives substantial syntactic, semantic, and even phonetic evidence to prove that the mental representation at the level of the S-structure includes trace [NP e], a bound variable with no phonetic content. The reality of trace argues against a variable-free notation of logic. It is also shown that the rule of focus is part of the mapping from S-structure to LF, and that LF provides representation relevant to pragmatic presupposition as against logical presupposition. It is proved that LF is governed by the principle of opacity. Ch. 5, ‘On the biological basis of language capacities’ (185216), argues that the evidence provided for the apparatus of the language faculty, for example, the ‘locality principle’, is analogous to that of the physicist postulating certain processes in the interior of the sun, based on the evidence provided by the light emitted at the periphery. Ch. 6, ‘Language and unconscious knowledge’ (21754), argues that the theories of grammatical and pragmatic competence must find their place in a theory of performance. Such a rationalist approach contrasts with other learning models.