Monthly Archives: March 2008

Classical Mongolian

Classical Mongolian. By Alice Sárközi. Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2004. Pp. 61. ISBN 3895868590. $51.80.

Reviewed by Joshua Ross, SIL International

Written Mongolian has never been spoken in this form, but has been the literary language for all the Mongols. Classical Mongolian presents a short grammar of Written Mongolian.

The first of six sections gives a brief outline of the history and usage of Classical Written Mongolian, as well as an outline of the different types of text that may be regarded as source material for research. The section concludes with a list of previous studies. The second section details the phonology, looking at the vowels and consonants, where they may occur in words, and which combinations are not used. Vowel harmony is also discussed, including the two forms of k/q and g/γ used with front and back vowels, respectively.

The third section, the main body of the book, examines the morphology. After detailing the agglutinative nature of Written Mongolian, there is a subsection discussing nominal morphology. The foundations for this are laid with the morphology of nouns. Adjectives, being essentially the same as nouns, are dealt with very quickly, and then a detailed analysis of pronouns and numerals is presented. The subsection concludes with a description of adverbs, which, formed from nouns, pronouns, or numerals, follow the earlier material, and postpositions. Each in turn is enumerated using tables to succinctly give easily referenced detail. The rest of the section is dedicated to verbs and verbal adverbs. The suffixes dealing with tense, aspect, and mood are all considered.

The syntax of Classical Mongolian is dealt with in the fourth section. Since suffixes and particles are dealt with in the third section, this is a fairly brief introduction to the main sentence types found in Classical Mongolian. The survey starts with indicative and interrogative sentences, outlining the general word and phrase order, and then turns to detailing how complex sentences may be built up. The section then concludes with a look at the parts of a sentence.

Two sample texts, ‘The history of Geser Kahn’ and ‘Altan tobči “The golden button” ’, are given in the fifth section. They are helpfully interlinearized, with a free translation given afterwards. A copy of these texts in the Mongolian script is given in the appendices.

Classical Mongolian ends with an extremely short section (six lines) on the script and its development. There is also an appendix giving the script together with the transcriptions used in the body of the book; there is no discussion about the ambiguities in the script, however, nor about which cases are resolvable from vowel harmony and which require a knowledge of the lexemes.

This short volume makes a good reference for Classical Written Mongolian. It is clearly organized and finding the relevant material is made easy by the well laid out table of contents. Although it is not within the remit of the volume to make comparisons with modern dialects of Mongolian, it still provides a good basis for such an undertaking.

The history of English: A student’s guide

The history of English: A student’s guide. By Ishtla Singh. London: Hodder Arnold, 2005. Pp. xiii, 226. ISBN 9780340806951. $29.95.

Reviewed by Colette van Kerckvoorde, Simon’s Rock College

The story of the English language is one of the few areas in linguistics with popular appeal. As a result, various publications and documentaries have appeared under similar titles, and beginners may be inclined to believe that there is only one specific narrative for the history of our language, handed down from one generation to the next, with only a few updates. Singh’s book includes this kind of standard, orthodox material, but she also wants to draw the reader’s attention to recent scholarship and topics under debate in the academic community. Most likely, her reader already has some limited background knowledge of the conventional history, but wants to explore different, even controversial perspectives.

S starts by describing the major processes of change that have affected English over the centuries and stresses that virtually every kind of change can be observed for any time period. She then turns to the prehistory of the English language and gives an overview of the Indo-European language family; she includes a discussion of the Indo-European homeland and the controversies that surround this topic. She concludes with a discussion of April McMahon and Robert McMahon’s (2005) development of quantitative methods for language classification.

The following four chapters are structured around the traditional periodization of the history of the English language and provide a solid overview of the standard material that would be expected in a textbook with this title. Therefore, I highlight here only what is new and unusual. For Old English, there is a discussion of studies that have explored the constructions of Anglo-Saxon masculinity and femininity as manifested in Beowulf. The chapter on Middle English describes Charles-James N. Bailey and Karl Maroldt’s (1977) creole hypothesis and the subsequent debate that widely discredited it. The Early Modern English chapter includes a treatment of the introduction of English in Barbados, one of the earliest landing points for English in the new world. The final chapter, on Modern English, presents two snapshots. For the eighteenth century, there is a detailed discussion of Jonathan Swift’s A modest proposal, where S demonstrates that its underlying ideology to this present day is ‘alive and well’ (188). For the nineteenth century, the spread of English as a result of the expansion of the British Empire is exemplified by focusing on Singapore. S concludes with an overview of predictions made at the end of the twentieth century for the future use of English.

This textbook successfully demonstrates that research in the history of the English language is ongoing and that there are still many unanswered questions and unexplored areas. In addition, it emphasizes that traditional views can be reexamined and updated, especially through interdisciplinary contributions and even through the application of new computer technology. It goes without saying that S was limited to only a few representative examples of current research. Her goal is to encourage further exploration through classroom discussions and student research papers. A great feature is the inclusion of study questions at the end of each chapter: they provide a basis for further research and encourage the student to include approaches from other disciplines.

Khamnigan Mongol

Khamnigan Mongol. By Juha Janhunen. Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2005. Pp. 62. ISBN 3895862266. $53.20.

Reviewed by Joshua Ross, SIL International

Khamnigan Mongol is an extremely conservative, ethnospecific community language, which Juha Janhunen suggests may not be viable given various fundamental changes to its social and ecological context. This volume gives an outline of the grammar of Khamnigan Mongol and seeks to examine its ethnolinguistic context. It is divided into five parts: ‘Introduction’, ‘Ethnoliguistic context’, ‘Phonology’, ‘Morphology’, and ‘Diachronic aspects’.

The introduction consists of eight sections spread over five pages. After first defining Khamnigan Mongol, J then turns to the distribution and history of the speakers. The nomadic nature of the Khamnigans is then addressed, followed by their spiritual culture. The introduction concludes with an analysis of population trends and a history of the research into Khamnigan Mongol.

Part 2, ‘Ethnolinguistic context’, includes discussion about the significant Ewenki-Khamnigan Mongol bilingualism; while Khamnigan Mongol is taxonomically a separate Mongolic language, Khamnigan Ewenki should allow smooth communication with other Ewenki speakers. There is also discussion of tribal divisions and dialects, together with the issues of ethnic environment and interethnic communication, as well as the sociolinguistic trends.

Part 3, ‘Phonology’, covers the main phonological issues, including palatal and labial harmony, with restrictions on consonants and sandhi also surveyed. Part 4, ‘Morphology’, treats the three clearly distinguished parts of speech: nouns, verbs, and invariables. These are each dealt with in turn, as is the varying strength of suffixal bonds. The presentation is systematic and clear, isolating the commonly used forms for particular attention.

The final part, dealing with diachronic issues, begins by considering other Mongolic dialects. It first examines their influence with reference to their location, and then makes comparisons in order to substantiate the claim that Khamnigan Mongol is exceptionally conservative, noting that there are substantially fewer phonological innovations than in the other living Mongolic languages. Part 5 also summarizes some comparative evidence, tabulating counts of the shared and separating features among five major Mongolic languages.

Four sections in Part 5 relate Khamnigan Mongol to areally close languages: Buryat, Mongol proper, Dagur, and finally Ewenki. First, the notion that Khamnigan Mongol should be regarded as a dialect of Buryat is considered and rejected as politically rather than linguistically motivated, although J acknowledges that there are some features that link the two languages. There is some consideration also of a three-way comparison between Khamnigan Mongol, Buryat, and Mongol proper. The common features with Dagur are also examined, together with the probable origin of these due to the common influence of Ewenki. The final section contrasts the isolation and conservative nature of Khamnigan Mongol with the similar isolation, but without the conservativeness, of Dagur.

The volume concludes with one interlinearized sample text and a short bibliography.

The function of function words and functional categories

The function of function words and functional categories. By Marcel den Dikken and Christina M. Tortora. (Linguistik aktuell/Linguistics today 78.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. Pp. 293. ISBN 9789027228024. $162 (Hb).

Reviewed by Asya Pereltsvaig, Stanford University

This volume is a collection of papers presented at the 19th Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop, held at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. The papers selected for this volume all address the question of the function of function words and functional categories. This is a brief outline of the contributions in the volume.

C. Jan-Wouter Zwart challenges the widely adopted hypothesis that morphological properties of functional heads (in this instance, on the left periphery) are responsible for whether a language does or does not exhibit verb second. Instead, he places verb second in the domain of narrow syntax and analyzes it as a positional dependency marking strategy. Verb second is also the topic of Ute Bohnacker’s article, which examines the second language acquisition of this phenomenon by Swedish learners of German.

The article by Josef Bayer, Tanja Schmid, and Markus Bader concentrates on the functional superstructure of embedded control infinities with zu, focusing on German (but discussing also Dutch and Bangla). They argue that while ‘extraposed’ zu-infinitives are CPs with a null functional head, ‘intraposed’ zu-infinitives that exhibit no clause-union properties cannot be taken to be null-headed CPs: they project no further than VP. The C-head once again plays an important role in the paper by Marc Richards and Theresa Biberauer, which concerns itself with the question of how best to explain the distribution of expletives in the Germanic languages. Their central hypothesis is that expletives may only be merged in the specifier positions of phase heads—C and v. The former introduces expletives such as German es, while the latter is the merge-site of English-type there-expletives. The contribution by Marika Lekakou is related in as much as she is concerned with the question of whether reflexive markers such as German sich and Dutch zich are argumental lexical categories or dummy functional categories (like the expletives). She argues that while German sich can be either an argument or what she calls a marker of valency reduction, Dutch zich is systematically an argument. The article by Guido Vanden Wyngaerd is concerned with constructions in English where the simple present is used episodically, namely sports commentaries and performatives. His central observation is that all such constructions denote an event of ‘very short duration’ (in contrast to languages like Dutch).

The final two papers in this volume are concerned with functional categories in the nominal domain. The article by Marit Julien is a detailed study of possessive noun phrases throughout Scandinavian, bringing together an impressive array of empirical facts and discussing them against the background of a uniform base configuration, with surface variation resulting from movement operations in the course of the overt syntactic derivation. The paper by Dorian Roehrs zooms in on the left periphery of the extended noun phrase, looking at fillers of the D-head. His central claim is that the approach to phrases like us linguists that takes the pronoun to be in D is correct; yet, he argues that all D-elements are moved to D from a lower functional category.

Overall, this volume makes an excellent contribution to the study of microparametric Germanic syntax as well as to syntactic theory in general.

A grammar of Semelai

A grammar of Semelai. By Nicole Kruspe. (Cambridge grammatical descriptions.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Pp. xxiii, 493. ISBN 0521814979. $180 (Hb).

Reviewed by Harald Hammarström, Chalmers University

This grammar of Semelai, a revised version of the author’s Ph.D. thesis (University of Melbourne, 1999), is the first-ever full-length description of an Aslian language, and Semelai itself has previously been known only through word lists collected fifty to one hundred years ago. Semelai has approximately 4,100 speakers, who subsist mainly by hunting and gathering. Despite Malay influence, it is not an endangered language at the present time.

The book begins with an overview of research on the Aslian languages, which consist of nineteen languages located in the jungles of the Malay peninsula. This section is complete but short, since there has been surprisingly little research on these languages; to K’s credit, she includes references to work by non-Western scholars. Summaries of the classification of Semelai within Aslian, Aslian within Mon-Khmer, and Mon-Khmer within Austroasiatic are all up to date.

The phonology section is authoritative. Minimal pairs show thirty-two consonants (including a series of unvoiced nasals), ten oral and ten nasal vowels, and no phonemic length, diphthongs, or tone. The section further presents phonotactics, loanword phonology, syllable structure, and comparative notes.

As for morphology, while Semelai has a rich inventory of prefixes, infixes, and suffixes, it is not isolating; but a cursory inspection of the glossed texts at the end of the book shows a morpheme-to-word ratio of not more than two to one—that is, the average word consists of one affix plus one root. A considerable amount of word-prosodic analysis would be needed to account for the affixation processes, which would result in a section that would be of special interest.

Kruspe shows that word classes in Semelai can be robustly distinguished by syntactic and morphological criteria. The open classes are nominals, verbs, and expressives (i.e. ideophones). Except for a small number of ambitransitives, verbs are either transitive or intransitive, with adjectives being a subclass of the intransitives. While expressives, which also occur in nonstandard Malay varieties of the region, exhibit vowel alternations that are irregular for Semelai, there is insufficient evidence for sound symbolism.

Syntactically, Semelai has fixed head-dependent order in phrases, but clause-level constituent order is fluid. For transitive clauses, the most common order is VSO, but SVO sentences exhibit less morphological role marking; for intransitives, neither VS or SV is dominant.

Everything one expects in a typologically oriented reference grammar has been worked on, generally with great systematicity; the discussion covers all kinds of clause combininations, serial verbs, locative prepositions and directionals, classifiers, and quotative constructions, but too little attention is devoted to the expression of tense and aspect. The descriptive style is typically modern; and there are plenty of glossed examples, comments on language contact, and comparisons with Malay and the three Aslian languages (Jah Hut, Temiar, and Jahai) for which grammatical sketches exist.

Crosslinguistic curiosities of Semelai include more number marking on third-person pronouns than on first- or second-person, and an avoidance speech style where mostly nouns but also verbs are tabooed and duly replaced.

This grammar is a must for reference libraries, Southeast Asianists, and typologists. I regret that this well-edited ‘Cambridge grammatical descriptions’ series has been discontinued.

The semantics of polysemy: Reading meaning in English and Warlpiri

The semantics of polysemy: Reading meaning in English and Warlpiri. By Nick Riemer. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2005. Pp. 487. ISBN 3110183978. $165.20 (Hb).

Reviewed by Martin Hilpert, Rice University

Nick Riemer’s The semantics of polysemy can be divided into two sections. The first four chapters explore the philosophical and methodological underpinnings of cognitive semantics and the study of polysemy. Chs. 5 and 6 present case studies of polysemous English and Warlpiri verbs from the semantic domain of percussion and impact.

Ch. 1 questions the identification of linguistic meaning with conceptualization, an assumption that is championed, for example, by Langacker (1987). The meaning of words such as English above is viewed as a conceptually basic figure-ground configuration. With the later Wittgenstein, R argues that in order to be understood, such a configuration would still need to be interpreted, as would the resulting interpretation, leading to an infinite regress. He concludes that cognitive semantics cannot lay claim to psychological reality, or even scientific validity. Instead, cognitive semantics is viewed as an interpretive enterprise.

Ch. 2 is a critique of the natural semantic metalanguage (NSM) developed by Anna Wierzbicka and colleagues, which aims to offer an alternative to cognitive semantics by defining the meaning of words through a set of universal semantic primitives. R shows that words, contra NSM, need not be understood through component primitives. The commitment to undefinable primitives also leaves a large residue of basic vocabulary unaccounted for. Hence, R does not adopt NSM, but uses ordinary English as a semantic metalanguage.

Ch. 3 examines different types of evidence that characterize a lexeme as polysemous. R proposes that metaphor and metonymy provide a way to organize different senses of a word into a polysemy network. For example, the Warlpiri verb pakarni means both ‘hit’ and ‘kill’. As the two senses are distinct, but connected through a cause for effect metonymy, it is warranted to view pakarni as polysemous.

Ch. 4 develops a typology of semantic extensions that give rise to polysemy. Besides metaphor, R distinguishes three types of metonymies. In effect metonymies, an action stands for its result. In context metonymies, a particular action stands for its wider event frame. Conversely, in constituent metonymies, an action stands for a subpart of its event frame. R’s typology of metonymies thus resembles a classification into cause for effect, part for whole, and whole for part.

Chs. 5 and 6 explore the meanings of verbs of percussion and impact, such as English strike and Warlpiri pakarni ‘hit’. Using dictionary data and field notes, R shows how the proposed semantic extensions allow for a classification of the encountered meanings. For example, A thought has struck me! is motivated through metaphor, while strike a fire is motivated through an effect metonymy.

To summarize, The semantics of polysemy is a thought-provoking book that questions a number of assumptions that are widely held in cognitive linguistics. R rightly points out that cognitive semantics in its current state is an art, rather than a science. Still, not everyone will give up on the psychological reality of semantic representations because of a philosophical argument. A growing body of experimental and corpus-based work in cognitive linguistics promises to address at least some of R’s criticisms in the near future.

Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research

Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. By Norman Fairclough. London: Routledge, 2003. Pp. 288. ISBN 0415258936. $39.95.

Reviewed by Bingyun Li, Fujian Normal University

In this well-written and accessible book, Norman Fairclough convincingly shows how a social perspective can be successfully combined into ‘real’ language analysis. The book is divided into four parts. Part 1 (‘Social analysis, discourse analysis, text analysis’) contains three chapters. In Ch. 1 (1–18), F distinguishes text analysis from discourse analysis, touching upon the causal effects of the textual elements of social events on social life. Ch. 2 (21–38) treats the relationship between texts, social events, social practices, and social structures. For F, ‘Any social practice is an articulation of the following elements: action and interaction, social relations, persons, the material world and, discourse’ (25). F also discusses three major types of text meaning: action, representation, and identification. Seeing texts as part of social events, F argues for a relational approach to text analysis. Ch. 3 (39–61) deals with intertextuality and assumptions, pointing out that ‘intertextuality is inevitably selective with respect to what is included and what is excluded from the events and texts represented’ (55). F distinguishes, among other things, three types of assumptions: existential, propositional, and value. I agree with F that ‘making assumptions is one way of being intertextual’ (17). The ideological aspects of assumptions are also discussed.

In Part 2 (‘Genres and action’), Ch. 4 (65–86) looks at three types of genre: dialogue, argument, and narrative, attempting to link the analysis of genres to a number of themes in social research. For F, the individual genres of a text or interaction can be analyzed in terms of activity, social relations, and communication technology. In Ch. 5 (87–104), F, making use of a lot of ‘real’ examples, focuses on meaning relations between sentences and between clauses within sentences. Ch. 6 (105–19) distinguishes two types of speech exchanges (knowledge exchanges and activity exchanges) and three main grammatical moods (declarative, interrogative, and imperative).

In Part 3 (‘Discourses and representations’), Ch. 7 (123–33) focuses on discourses, in which F argues that discourses are ways of representing the world. F also talks about how to differentiate discourses. Ch. 8 elaborates on representations of social events. In Part 4 (‘Styles and identities’), Ch. 9 (159–63) looks at styles, while Ch. 10 (164–90) discusses modality and evaluation, focusing on categories of explicit and implicit evaluation and showing how these two analytical perspectives can be used to address a range of social issues. Ch. 11 (191–211) summarizes the major ideas in the preceding chapters in the form of questions and presents a short ‘manifesto’ for the critical discourse analysis research program.

At the very beginning of each chapter there are boxes to highlight the important text-analysis issues and social-research issues covered in the chapter, and at the end of each chapter there is a summary. The book ends with glossaries of key terms and key theorists, an appendix of texts, references, and an index. In this sense, the book is very reader-friendly. Another strong point is that F makes use of a variety of ‘real’ language data (advertisements in newspapers, interviews, personal speeches, radio news reports, TV debates, etc.). This book should be welcomed by those looking for ways to analyze real language data without neglecting the social outlook. However, I find it odd that Ch. 9 on style is unusually short, as the essential role of style should never be underestimated. The second thing I would like to point out is that although discourses are ways of representing the world, as discussed in Ch. 7, the world represented by discourses is not necessarily the one we have. Third, is it really easy and necessary to make a distinction between text analysis and discourse? Finally, one has to wonder what is meant by ‘real language data’, especially since errors and verbal missteps abound in actual usage.

The syntax and semantics of split constructions

The syntax and semantics of split constructions. By Alastair Butler and Eric Mathieu. New York: Palgrave, 2004. Pp. xii, 223. ISBN 1403921121. $79.97 (Hb).

Reviewed by Asya Pereltsvaig, Cornell University

This volume examines split constructions, focusing mostly on French. It attempts to give a principled account of the intervention effects they exhibit. The main proposal is that all constructions sensitive to weak islands are really split constructions. The authors offer an analysis in semantic terms ‘but one that does not obliterate the role of syntax’ (xi).

Ch. 1 is the introduction to the problem explored in the book, namely the observation that strings exhibiting splitting are more restricted than their ‘fill movement’ counterparts. Thus, these splitting constructions are subject to intervention effects. Previous approaches to this problem are reviewed here as well, including syntactic (e.g. ECP-based and relativized minimality-based), pragmatic, and semantic approaches. Section 1.4 outlines the authors’ proposal.

Ch. 2 deals with a range of wh-constructions that give rise to intervention effects, which are argued to be split constructions. Different types of wh-constructions are discussed here, including single wh-in-situ constructions and combien-constructions in French, single and multiple wh-in-situ constructions in Korean and German, interrogatives with wh-adjuncts and interrogatives that question out of scope-restricting contexts, and partial wh-constructions in German.

Ch. 3 examines negative constructions, specifically those involving negative polarity items and the so-called N-words. After introducing the phenomena, the authors review previous proposals (including both semantic and syntactic views). Then, the question of what French N-words really are is addressed in Section 3.4. The authors assimilate these negative constructions to other types of split constructions, namely those where a bare operator is separate from its noun restrictor.

Ch. 4 introduces the proposal and outlines the theoretical machinery necessary to account for various split constructions examined in the book. The minimalist syntactic system is briefly introduced together with the logical tools used by the authors, such as propositional logic, predicate logic, predicate logic with anaphora, and predicate logic with barriers. The authors show that predicate logic with barriers imposes interface conditions, which allows them to account for the relevant splitting constructions.

Ch. 5 further elaborates on the proposal by introducing additions to the predicate-logic-with-barriers system developed in Ch. 4 and showing how this system can account for the range of intervention effects with respect to negative polarity items, N-words, combien-constructions, and the various wh-constructions examined in Ch. 2.

The book is complete with an appendix that gives all the necessary definitions used in the predicate-logic-with-barriers system. Overall, the book gives an interesting new look at a range of previously unrelated phenomena and provides an interface account for them.

Written communication across cultures: A sociocognitive perspective on business genres

Written communication across cultures: A sociocognitive perspective on business genres. By Yunxia Zhu. (Pragmatics and beyond new series 141.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. Pp. xvii, 215. ISBN 9027253846. $126 (Hb).

Reviewed by Aleksandar Čarapić, University of Belgrade

What is the best way to approach the comparison of intercultural business genres? What persuasive orientations can be embedded in English and Chinese cultural and rhetorical backgrounds? What are the main persuasive strategies used in English and Chinese business correspondence? How are they similar or different, and what causes such similarities and/or differences? What are the implications of the research for learning and teaching business language in cross-cultural communication? These major questions underlie the research in Yunxia Zhu’s exciting study, Written communication across cultures.

The volume consists of nine chapters. In addition to a brief introduction to the book, Ch. 1, ‘Introduction and outline’, brings in the necessity for developing a theoretical framework for genre comparison. It discusses genre in relation to a ‘stock of knowledge’ that is shared in a relevant discourse community in specific sociocultural contexts. Ch. 2, ‘Communication across cultures’, focuses on cross-cultural aspects as a part of the theoretical groundwork for comparing Chinese and English genres, and discusses sociocultural, organizational, and interpersonal levels for studying the business genres involved. Specifying the main theoretical framework for intercultural genre analysis, Ch. 3, ‘Conceptual framework: A dual perspective’, proposes a model for genre comparison, emphasizes genre-intertextuality interaction, and promotes cross-cultural genre study from sociocognitive and intercultural viewpoints based on English and Chinese literature related to genre analysis.

An overview of the research design, its methodology, data, questionnaires, and interviews, and of the method of analysis is given in Ch. 4, ‘Research design’. Both Ch. 5, ‘Comparing English and Chinese sales letters’, and Ch. 6, ‘Comparing English and Chinese sales invitations’, apply the proposed model with regard to the specific differences that different genre types impose. Ch. 7, ‘Comparing English and Chinese business faxes’, focuses on business faxes as a relatively new business genre, showing the possibilities of extending the use of the approach to high-tech-related business genres, thus going beyond business genres and involving the influence of technology on genre writing in general.

Ch. 8, ‘Cross-cultural genre teaching’, considers implications of the proposed framework for the processes of learning and teaching genre, and applies previous findings to cross-cultural genre learning with respect to pedagogical issues in English and Chinese curricula. Ch. 9, ‘Summaries and conclusions’, offers a working definition of genre from a cross-cultural standpoint based on the previous findings.

Written communication across cultures has made several great contributions. First, as one of the first books to study the cross-cultural business genre, it conceptualizes this field with a sociocognitive and intercultural dimension. Second, it presents an in-depth theoretical exploration of business discourse by considering discourse community, cognitive structuring, and the deep semantics of genre and intertexuality. Third, it offers an insider’s perspective on cross-cultural comparison by soliciting professional members’ intracultural and intercultural viewpoints about the target cultures. As such, the book is a valuable read for scholars interested in intercultural communication, applied linguistics, (critical) discourse analysis, contrastive rhetoric, interlanguage pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and other interdisciplinary fields.

Introducing language in use: A coursebook

Introducing language in use: A coursebook. By Aileen Bloomer, Patrick Griffiths, and Andrew John Merrison. New York: Routledge, 2005. Pp. xx, 492. ISBN 0415291798. $31.95.

Reviewed by Olga Thomason, University of Georgia

This book is designed as an introductory coursebook for students beginning to study linguistics. As stated in the title, the authors are primarily interested in language in use, and the material of each unit is organized and presented with a functional approach in mind. The mode of presentation is reader-friendly and engaging. The authors move away from a traditional lecture-type style and often introduce material through focus questions and/or activities. The material is introduced in great detail, and different linguistic theories and views on a subject are accounted for. Readers are frequently encouraged to think about certain propositions and come to their own conclusions, and only then do the authors offer their comments. The presentation is enriched with multiple tables and figures as well as with additional texts that often simplify understanding of the material. There is also a useful concise explanation of standard linguistic symbols and abbreviations in the beginning of the book.

The book includes fifteen chapters describing language subjects (phonetics, syntax, morphology, and semantics) and various fields of linguistic study (language acquisition, conversation analysis, psycholinguistics, and pragmatics). Some important linguistic topics are discussed in separate chapters (‘Language, semiotics and communication’, ‘Powerful language and humour’, ‘Social varieties of language’, ‘Multilingualism’, ‘World Englishes’, ‘History of English’, ‘Language in education’). The final chapter offers additional activities where readers can apply their knowledge of linguistic theory and analytical techniques acquired in previous chapters.

All chapters (with the exception of the final one) have an introductory section and a summary that direct the reader’s attention. Suggestions for further readings and activities as well as a list of references conclude each chapter. Reading lists often include the authors’ remarks on the style, difficulty, or best-addressed topic of selected references. There are also commentaries on activities after each chapter that help in checking students’ learning processes. Sometimes the authors refer readers to the book’s website, which not only contains additional information on the discussed topic but also suggests further readings, web links, and activities (including language games).

The authors’ attempts to make all of the chapters relevantly independent lead to multiple repetitions and some cross-references that do not seem well justified. As a result, there is practically the same description of the relation between semantic and pragmatics on p. 78 and p. 154. The symbol representing stress is explained twice (259, 282). Sometimes, a statement is repeated on the same page (414). The authors often refer readers to the whole chapter instead of the particular part that deals with the problem in question (38, 48). Linkages given solely for the purpose of connecting chapters in a sequence appear redundant and unnecessary since such logical association is often obvious (134, 141, 146).

Many terms that are used in the text are in bold, indicating that one can find their definitions in a very helpful glossary at the end of the book. Unfortunately, there are some inconsistencies in the way the terms are introduced. Some of them are defined in the main body of the book and in the glossary (‘sociolinguistics’, 299, 469), but some are explained only in the text (‘psycholinguistics’, 342). In addition, terms are not consistently put in bold; for example, the term ‘grammar’ is in bold on p. 157, but not on p. 134 even though it is used in the same syntactic and pragmatic circumstances. Sometimes a synonym of a term is given in place of its definition (‘tenor of discourse’, 470).

The index needs some modifications. For example, there is a reference for ‘preposition’ to p. 152 (485), but there is no text on this page. The purpose of markings like language (passim) and language in use (passim) (481) or references to such general constructions as it is assumed (474) in the index is unclear.

In spite of these minor discrepancies, this is a well-written textbook that gives a comprehensive overview of language study in a refreshing manner. It is useful not only for first-timers in linguistics but also for professional linguists looking for a quick update on current linguistic work done outside their area of expertise.