Monthly Archives: May 2008

Syntactic structures and morphological information

Syntactic structures and morphological information. Ed. by Uwe Junghanns and Luka Szucsich. (Interface explorations 7.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2003. Pp. xxxii, 394. ISBN 3110178249. $108 (Hb).

Reviewed by Mohammad Rasekh Mahand, Bu-Ali Sina University

This book is a collection of papers presented at a workshop entitled ‘Clause structure and models of grammar from the perspective of languages with rich morphology’ at the 23rd meeting of the German Linguistic Society (February 2001, University of Leipzig). The present volume contains an introduction by the editors and ten papers.

Tania Avgustinova, in ‘Metagrammar of syntactic relations: A study with special reference to Slavic morphosyntax’, outlines a standardized taxonomy for describing systematic relations in grammar that includes both a hierarchy of relational types and a way of cross-classifying different relational types. Huba Bartos, in ‘On-line morphology: The morphosyntax of Hungarian’, investigates verbal morphology in Hungarian that appears to violate Mark Baker’s mirror principle (The mirror principle and morphosyntactic explanation. Linguistic Inquiry 16.373–415, 1985). The author claims that morphology ‘shadows’ syntax, but deviations from this shadowing may arise due to the interaction of various principles in morphology with scopal properties of the morphemes in question.

In ‘Verbal morphology and agreement in Urdu’, Miriam Butt and Louisa Sadler explore where morphology fits into a grammar; by considering case and agreement in Urdu within a lexical-functional grammar approach. Gisella Ferraresi and Maria Goldbach, in ‘Particles and sentence structure: A historical perspective’, examine the loss of the Old French sentence particle si ‘thus’, hypothesizing that such a syntactic change depends on changes in conditions of the interfaces. In ‘Subject case in Turkish nominalized clauses’, Jaklin Kornfilt discusses adjunct-argument asymmetry, and posits a role for the argument–adjunct distinction in the determination of the case of the subject.

Esther Rinke, in ‘On the licensing of null subjects in Old French’, discusses the licensing conditions in Old French that allow for omission of referential subjects. Andrew Spencer, in ‘Periphrastic paradigms in Bulgarian’, considers how periphrastic constructions for tense and aspect fit into notions of what a paradigm is. In ‘Transparent, restricted and opaque affix orders’, Barbara Stiebles offers a programmatic overview of the ordering of affixes marking diathesis. Jochen Tromer, in ‘Direction marking as agreement’, analyzes person marking and direction marking (for arguments) in Turkana and Menominee languages within a constraint-based framework, distributed optimality. Finally, Ilse Zimmermann, in ‘On the semantics of cases’, deals with the semantics of case in Modern Standard Russian, arguing for abstract semantico-syntactic features that that characterize the structural cases of complements.

(In)vulnerable domains in multilingualism

(In)vulnerable domains in multilingualism. By Natascha Müller. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2003. Pp xiv, 374. ISBN 9781588113733. $101 (Hb).

Reviewed by Silvia Kouwenberg, University of the West Indies, Jamaica

The introduction and eleven chapters of this volume consider the acquisition of phenomena ranging from the DP to aspects of syllable structure in mainly bilingual children, but also cover research making comparisons between child and adult acquisition. Its aim is to bring the perspective of multilingualism to an account of the distinction between grammatical phenomena where acquisition is virtually error-free (invulnerable domains) and those that are typically prone to error in acquisition (vulnerable domains).

Although several individual papers make valuable contributions to such a goal, the notion of vulnerability is central to very few of them; lacking a discussion that draws together strands from the different papers, the reader is left to wonder about the comparability of the insights that emerge from these papers, in particular where some of the findings seem contradictory.

For example, Tanja Kupisch argues that in French the DP appears to be an invulnerable domain, impervious to the dominance effects that might be expected where a bilingual French-German child is weaker in French. By contrast, Petra Bernardini claims that dominance effects can be seen in the bilingual acquisition of Italian DPs where Italian is the child’s weaker language, Swedish being dominant. Their different findings can perhaps be attributed to the aspects of the DP considered: Kupisch studies the use of articles, which occupy the same position in the DP in French and German; differences pertain to the contexts of use. Bernardini studies the placement of adjectives and possessives, which occupy different positions in the languages involved.

Other papers that seem to be at odds are those by Marc-Olivier Hinzelin and Mary Kato, which both consider null subjects. Hinzelin studies children bilingual in Portuguese and German—languages that require the null-subject parameter to be set differently—and finds that their production is target-like in both languages early on. By contrast, Kato, in her discussion of her own early L2 acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese, claims that while no transfer of her native Japanese grammar took place with regard to, for instance, head directionality, transfer may have occurred with regard to null subjects. It should be noted, however, that the case described by Hinzelin involves bilingualism from birth, whereas Kato’s involves early dominance in Japanese, as her acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese was delayed until school entry at age six. In addition, Kato’s evidence consists of her adult competence rather than an empirical study of her acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese as a child.

Like Bernardini’s work, the paper by Conxita Lleó, Imme Kuchenbrandt, Margaret Kehoe, and Cristina Trujillo points to interaction between the languages being acquired, in their case in regard to the accelerated acquisition of codas in Spanish in German-Spanish bilingual children as compared to Spanish monolingual children. Ira Gawlitzek-Maiwald’s chapter on German-English mixed utterances similarly identifies the ‘booster’ function that competence in one language may have for the accelerated development of competence in another. A different kind of influence of bilingualism is considered by Annette Herkenrath, Birsel Karakoç, and Jochen Rehbein, who argue that a marginal type of wh-subordination in monolingual Turkish has been extended and innovated in the Turkish of bilingual German-Turkish speaking children under the influence of German.

Anja Möhring and Jürgen Meisel’s chapter compares the acquisition of the OV/VO parameter by German-French bilingual children (target-like) and by adult L2 learners of German whose first language is Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese (frequently target-deviant).

The remaining chapters include topics such as English-Spanish mixing in the speech of a single child (Margaret Deuchar and Rachel Muntz), null subjects and optional infinitives in Basque (Maria-José Ezeizabarrena), and the study of acquisition from the perspective of a theory of multiple grammars (Thomas Roeper). It is not entirely clear that these chapters make a useful contribution to the goals of this volume. Deuchar and Muntz’s attempt to consider the possible effect of dominance founders on the child’s apparently balanced bilingualism; although Ezeizabarrena’s main subject is a Basque-Spanish bilingual child, bilingualism is not considered a factor in this child’s development; and Roeper’s focus is on monolingual acquisition.

Die Interaktion der Aspektsemantik mit dem Lexikon im Marokkanisch-Arabischen

Die Interaktion der Aspektsemantik mit dem Lexikon im Marokkanisch-Arabischen. By Fadoua Chaara. (LINCOM studies in Afroasiatic linguistics 11.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2003. Pp. 211. ISBN 3895868701. $107.80.

Reviewed by Andrzej Zaborski, Jagiellonian University of Krakow

This book, based on Chaara’s doctoral dissertation, deals with the interaction of aspect semantics and lexicon in Moroccan Arabic. It is not clear which varieties of Moroccan Arabic can be considered as the database of this work. Contemporary Spoken Moroccan Arabic koine, which has not been codified and is still more or less fluctuating, is mentioned, but some examples are taken from William Marcais’s Textes arabes de Tanger (Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1911). The sources of the many examples are systematically quoted, which means a happy return to the old, good practice.

The basic ‘modern’ assumption that grammatical aspect and ‘the character’ (Aktionsart in German terminology) of particular verbs must be analyzed together is reminiscent of the prestructuralist approach to syntactic analysis, in which grammatical aspect, tense, and mood are not only connected with particular lexical and contextual peculiarities but are also frequently overshadowed by them (well exemplified, in the case of Arabic linguistics, by the syntactic studies on Classical Arabic by H. Reckendorf).

C discusses theoretical studies by Carlota Smith, David R. Dowty, R. Bauerle, and Hans-Jürgen Sasse, and then presents the TAM system of Moroccan Arabic following the traditional Arabist division into perfective and imperfective. C then examines participles, which, in Moroccan Arabic as well as in many other Arabic dialects, can have both perfective/resultative and imperfective/processive/approximative and stative meanings; periphrastic constructions; and a semantic classification of verbs of Moroccan Arabic. The author offers a separate detailed analysis of four basic polysemic, auxiliary verbs. According to C, the main aspect difference in Moroccan Arabic exists not between telic and atelic verbs but (allegedly there is a strong tendency in this direction) between telic verbs that lexicalize the beginning and those that lexicalize the end of a situation (204). Moreover, a lexical form with different ‘senses’ cannot be simply grouped within a single well-defined aspect class—the particular ‘senses’ of the same verb can belong to different, even incompatible and opposite, aspect classes (205).

The book is a useful contribution to the study of Moroccan Arabic and is an important methodological novelty in the field of Arabic linguistics.

Le samba leko, langue Adamawa du Cameroun: Cameroun du Nord, famille Adamawa

Le samba leko, langue Adamawa du Cameroun: Cameroun du Nord, famille Adamawa. By Anne Gwenaëlle Fabre. (LINCOM studies in African linguistics 56.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2003. Pp. 430. ISBN 3895867268. $121.80.

Reviewed by Benji Wald, Los Angeles, CA

This is an important book for its ample descriptive information about a previously undescribed language, (Samba) Leko. Leko is of uncommon interest for several reasons, including its historical implications for Niger-Congo, linguistic evolution, language contact, and grammatical typology. With regard to its historical implications for the uniquely complex Volta-Congo branch of Niger-Congo, the Leko homeland is situated in an East Nigeria–West Cameroon border area where the Adamawan and Benue-Kwa branches of Volta-Congo are in close proximity and frequent contact. Symptomatic of the prior lack of data, Leko, now classified as Adamawan, was within recent decades classified as Bantoid, a deep offshoot of Benue-Kwa, presumably because of Leko’s long-standing contact with Chamba Daka, of the Dakoid branch of Bantoid. Within Volta-Congo, Adamawan and Bantoid, or any other group within Benue-Kwa, have always been by one scheme or another considered to be maximally distant from each other. This issue is discussed only in passing in the introduction (9–13), but the data made available in the book will eventually be of great service to drawing more secure historical conclusions. Leko is also of great interest for its grammatical typology, both morphological and syntactic. Just where it stands in the grammatical diversity of the larger area in which it is situated remains to further research, and here again the data provided by the study will eventually be of great service.

The descriptive study, written in French, is quite detailed and extensive, or rather, intensive, since, as Fabre explains in the introduction, the syntactic description is based on an extended folktale fully reproduced in one of the appendices to the book (373–414). Examples from this folktale are cited throughout the work. Besides identifying many of the major syntactic patterns of the language, the folktale strategy facilitates discussion of such discourse-level issues as topic (303–21) and focus (321–37), among others. There are also some ancillary elicited data exploring certain points raised by analysis of the primary data. In numerous instances, however, F indicates limitations of her explorations and identifies problems that remain to be resolved by further investigation. The description itself is given in a relatively straightforward if complex item-and-arrangement framework, using terminology accessible to readers regardless of theoretical commitment, and conveniently cross-referenced in the ‘index des notions’ (457–58).

An initial summary (7) lists the major sections (unnumbered chapters) of the book: ‘Introduction’ (9–18), ‘Phonologie’ (19–72), ‘Catégories’ (73–134), ‘Dérivations et composition’ (135–82), ‘Le constituant nominal’ (183–224), ‘Le constituant verbale’ (225–66), ‘Les schèmes d’énoncé’ (267–362), ‘Conclusion’ (363–64), ‘Bibliographie’ (365–70), ‘Annexes’ (371–456), ‘Index des notions’ (457–58), ‘Table des matières’ (459–64). The last-mentioned table of contents gives a more detailed directory of the sections of each chapter. Section subdivisions often go to a depth of four, for example, ‘ La focalisation d’un terme antéposé’ (330–33). The ‘Annexes’ section centers around the folktale and includes a one-page table on the frequency of individual phonemes based on the lexicon of the folktale (371), a Samba-French lexicon (415–34), and a French-Samba Leko index (435–56).

The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar

The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar. Ed. by Alexander Adelaar and Nikolaus P. Himmelmann. New York: Routledge, 2005. Pp. 841. ISBN 9780700712861. $360 (Hb).

Reviewed by Craig Soderberg, Dallas, TX

This thorough book begins with five general or historical articles followed by twenty-three articles relating to specific Austronesian languages. Among the general articles, Alexander Adelaar, in ‘The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar: A historical perspective’, points out that the Austronesian language family is the largest language family in the world with 1,200 members (making up 20% of the world’s languages). He also diagrams and describes the Proto-Austronesian and Proto-Malayo-Polynesian language families. In ‘Language shift and endangerment’, Margaret Florey lists seven factors that facilitate or hinder language endangerment. Hein Steinhauer’s ‘Colonial history and language policy in Insular Southeast Asia and Madagascar’ describes how western colonial powers contributed to the strengthening of national languages such and Indonesian and Malay. James J. Fox, in ‘Ritual languages’, gives examples of avoidance vocabulary and word tabooing as well as special registers like ‘prokem’, which is used by the youth of Jakarta. In ‘Typological characteristics’, Nikolaus P. Himmelmann groups various Austronesian languages according to certain features such as nasal assimilation, ‘right-ward’ reduplication, subjecthood, and alignment systems.

Following Waruno Mahdi’s article on ‘Old Malay’, Adelaar, in ‘Structural diversity in the Malayic subgroup’, discusses literary Malay varieties, Pidgin-derived Malays, and Malayic vernaculars, and gives characteristics of various Malay varieties. In ‘Colloquial Indonesian’, Michael C. Ewing notes some interesting discourse features of Indonesian. The remaining articles focus on specific minority Austronesian languages: ‘Tsou’ (Elizabeth Zeitoun), ‘Seediq’ (Naomi Tsukida), ‘Iloko’ (Carl Rubino), ‘Tagalog’ (Nikolaus P. Himmelmann), ‘Sama (Bajau)’ (Akamine Jun), ‘Kimaragang’ (Paul Kroeger), ‘Belait’ (Adrian Clynes), ‘Malagasy’ (Janie Rasoloson and Carl Rubino), ‘Phan Rang Cham’ (Graham Thurgood), ‘Moken and Moklen’ (Michael D. Larish), ‘Karo Batak’ (Geoff Woollams), ‘Nias’ (Lea Brown), ‘Javanese’ (Alexander K. Ogloblin), ‘Buol’ (Erik Zobel), ‘Makassar’ (Anthony Jukes), ‘Mori Bawah’ (David Mead), ‘Kambera’ (Marian Klamer), ‘Tetun and Leti’ (Aone van Engelenhoven and Catharina Williams-van Klinken), ‘Taba’ (John Bowden), and ‘Biak’ (Hein Steinhauer).

Each language article includes an introduction and sections on topics like phonology and orthography, basic morphosyntax, major verbal alternations, and deictics and directionals. In these remaining articles, some features making for Austronesian language-uniqueness can be seen. For example, Western Austronesian languages differ significantly in their deictic systems, showing parameters of variation that include the number of degrees of distance distinguished in a given system. Malagasy is unique for distinguishing seven different degrees. In Leti, the uniqueness is that deictics convey speaker’s attitude. The Kambera language is unique in that it has a particularly complex example of clitics.

This book is highly recommended for anyone considering publishing a linguistic description of an Austronesian minority language, since it contains numerous useful examples.

A beginner’s guide to Tajiki

A beginner’s guide to Tajiki. By Azim Baizoyev and John Hayward. London: Routledge Curzon, 2004. Pp. xvi, 371. ISBN 0415315980. $55.95.

Reviewed by Mohammad Rasekh Mahand, Bu-Ali Sina University

This book offers a conversational approach to the study of Tajiki, the language of Tajikistan. The Tajik author, Azim Baizoyev, who has been involved in teaching Tajiki to foreign diplomats and professionals in various fields, has prepared the lessons of the book. As outlined in the ‘Editor’s preface’ (xii), these lessons have some key features: (i) they take ‘a topic-based, lexical conversational approach towards language learning’; (ii) they engage in ‘recycling of language information to facilitate language acquisition’; (iii) there are opportunities for exposure to language forms before they are explained in order to facilitate inductive learning; and (iv) the lessons use authentic language material, emphasize spoken language, and offer descriptions of the literary language, in which a balance between literal translation and sociolinguistically equivalent expressions has been attempted when both Tajiki and English are given.

Each lesson contains several sections. The first section offers a brief commentary in English on the subject matter of the lesson, which is followed by a list of key vocabulary items. In the third section there are dialogues that are centered on the theme of the lesson. The fourth is a grammar section, followed by exercises providing practice with the lesson’s new material. There are proverbs and short texts in some of the lessons, along with some discussion questions. The last section in each lesson gives a quiz.

The appendices contain examples of different text types (letters, speeches, jokes, poems, and the like). These offer insights into Tajiki culture and modes of thinking. After the appendices there is a section with grammatical tables, followed by a very useful Tajiki-English dictionary, containing over 4,500 definitions, of all the vocabulary found in the book.

The book could be used with a teacher or alone, and, although it is designed for beginners, those who wish to gain fluency in the language will find it a useful way to go further with the language.

Dictionnaire Fon-Français avec une esquisse grammaticale

Dictionnaire Fon-Français avec une esquisse grammaticale. By Hildegard Höftmann, in collaboration with Michel Ahohounkpanzon. (Westafrikanische Studien 27.) Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe, 2003. Pp. 424. ISBN 3896454633. €52.80.

Reviewed by Silvia Kouwenberg, University of the West Indies, Jamaica

Hildegard Höftmann is known among students of the Gbe languages for her 1993 work Grammatik des Fon (Leipzig: Langenscheidt). Strangely, no reference is made to this publication anywhere in the Dictionnaire Fon-Français. More generally, one might have expected a work of this nature to acknowledge its eminent forerunners, starting at least with Diedrich Westermann’s Grammatik der Ewe-Sprache (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1907).

The dictionary consists of three parts. Part 1, the introduction (11–20), briefly notes the classification of Fon within Niger-Congo, describes the historical and modern territorial bounds of the language, and notes the intended audience of the dictionary and some of the considerations that guided the compilation of the dictionary. It also explains the format of the dictionary’s entries, lists abbreviations, and explains the orthography, which follows the official Benin orthography—which, unusually, makes use of a number of phonetic symbols (ɖ, ɛ, ɔ). Part 2, the grammatical sketch (21–53), is subdivided into morphology (nominals, pronominals, verbs), syntax (where ‘élargissement du prédicat’ covers such topics as the use of markers of aspect, modality, and negation, as well as adverbial material; ‘proposition composée’ covers coordinated constructions; ‘phrase complexe’ pertains to various types of subordination), and a systematic summary (which illustrates tense, aspect, modality, and types of subordination). Part 3, the bulk of the work, is the Fon-French dictionary (55–424).

Missing from the grammatical sketch is a discussion of the phonology of Fon (see instead Hounkpati Capo’s A comparative phonology of Gbe, Berlin: Foris, 1991). Nonetheless, one cannot get around certain aspects of it as some of the morphology of Fon is templatic. Part 2 provides useful insights into the morphological processes that are extensively illustrated in the dictionary entries, but there are a few unfortunate mismatches. For instance, lànmɛ̀syɛ́nsyɛ́n ‘santé’ is described as a compound of lànmɛ̀ ‘corps’ and syɛ́nsyɛ́n ‘fort’ (22) but entered as an unanalyzable form in the dictionary (283); reduplicated sísí ‘respect’ (25) is missing from the dictionary listing. However, by and large, the dictionary is an excellent resource for the study of word formation in Fon, as complex forms are identified as such and the user is referred to the entries for the relevant component parts. About a third of the entries are accompanied by illustrations, adding to the usefulness of this work for linguistic research in the morphology and syntax of Fon.

The author has not attempted exhaustive coverage of Fon’s lexicon. At c. 8,000 entries, the choice of words for inclusion was based on the considerations set out on p. 13, such as the frequency of occurrence in her corpus of texts (representing a wide range of traditional and modern text types) and general acceptance by Fon speakers as supported by the judgments of several respondents and the author’s own observations. Given the large territory over which Fon is spoken, which makes variation unavoidable, the author’s choice betrays her support for the goals of standardization rather than full documentation.

The Aryanpur progressive Persian-English dictionary, one-volume, concise

The Aryanpur progressive Persian-English dictionary, one-volume, concise. By Manoochehr Aryanpur-Kashani (with the collaboration of S. M. Assi). Tehran: Computer World, 1384 Sh/2005. Pp. iv, 1596. ISBN 9648603200. 109,000 Rials.

Reviewed by Muhammad-Reza Fakhr-Rohani, University of Qom

The above dictionary (henceforth APPED) is an abridged edition of an earlier work, viz. The Aryanpur progressive Persian-English dictionary (4 vols, 2003). Unlike its predecessor, the APPED is designed to be affordable for students. Regarding coverage, it can be compared, and ranked, with Francis Steingass’s Comprehensive Persian-English dictionary (1892) and Solaiman Haim’s New Persian-English dictionary (1934–36).

The APPED offers several notable features. It gives equivalents of the vocabulary and idioms of current Persian as spoken in Iran. In addition to Persian cultural terms, a large number of newly coined words and phrases are also included with equivalents and/or translations. Notable is the inclusion of modern technical terms in a wide variety of disciplines. It renders several English equivalents for any given Persian headword, though the various meanings are not discriminated. It would have been more useful for the Persian-speaking user if the equivalents were either divided according to their senses or supported by some usage notes or synonym-discrimination paragraphs.

There are some shortcomings in the APPED as well. It seems that it was written with the assumption that only Persian-speaking users would consult it, though this is certainly not the case. The key to the transcription system offers no sample words in English to assist the English-speaking user with the phonetic value of the Persian pronunciations given. It is surprising that the six-vowel system of Persian phonology is represented by seven vowel symbols, and the glottal stop is represented by a single inverted comma. The Persian dental plosives are represented by their alveolar counterparts, which may easily mislead a person new to Persian. In addition, there are diphthongal transcriptions, but there are no diphthongal phonemes in Persian phonology (though phonetically some vowels may sound diphthongal). Given that the phonetic and phonological systems of Persian and English are different, an attempt to inform the English-speaking user of such delicate points as, for example, there being only dental and not alveolar plosives in Persian would have been useful. Moreover, the transcriptions hardly reflect the pronunciations of Persian-speaking readers, though the pronunciations given do reflect those of the written forms.

The example sentences provided should be revised and edited. Besides the sentences beginning with proper names, the rest rarely begin with capital letters, and, surprisingly, a great majority of them lack a full stop. These deficiencies, no doubt, will certainly mislead beginners who wish to consult the dictionary.

The APPED demands revision with regard to the Oriental loanwords in English. Although many such loanwords, particularly from Arabic or Persian origins, are recorded in great English dictionaries, most of them are not recorded in the APPED. These include words that pertain to religious, social, and cultural institutions. Despite the practice of some dictionaries, such as Steingass’s and Haim’s, which provide etymological information, however brief, the APPED remains reticent in this regard.

The APPED could be improved in many ways and prove to be a more reliable dictionary, serving its users for a longer period of time.

Theory construction in second language acquisition

Theory construction in second language acquisition. By Geoff Jordan. (Language learning & language teaching 8.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2004. Pp. xviii, 295. ISBN 158814821. $42.95.

Reviewed by Marcus Callies, Philipps-University Marburg

The study of second language acquisition (SLA) is a comparatively young field of research that is increasingly being viewed as a branch of cognitive science. There is still little agreement on what phenomena of SLA are to be explained and what counts as an explanation. Moreover, researchers appear to have reached only a minimal consensus as to what the object of study of a theory of SLA is and what the goals of such a theory are. Instead, the field has witnessed a proliferation of theories and, even more so, of models, hypotheses, and theoretical constructs. SLA being an interdisciplinary enterprise, its theories draw on and have been influenced by a large number of other disciplines within the social and cognitive sciences such as linguistics, psychology, and sociology. Thus, only little progress toward a unified theory of SLA has been made.

The present book provides an overview of long-standing issues and debates in SLA and presents a comparative analysis of rival SLA theories. While theory proliferation is usually considered a weakness of a discipline, Jordan asks whether having various theories really is a disadvantage. He suggests that we may actually need more than one unifying theory to break up the many research areas subsumed under SLA. J argues that instead of setting up virtually impossible conditions for an SLA theory, competing theories need to be evaluated in terms of well-defined, rational assessment criteria that can serve as a common basis for theory construction. Thus, unlike existing volumes that aim at providing an overview of SLA theories (Diane Larsen-Freeman and Michael Long, An introduction to second language acquisition research, London: Longman, 1991; Rosamond Mitchell and Florence Myles, Second language learning theories, London: Arnold, 1998), J sets up a series of such criteria (his ‘Guidelines’), based on theories of science, against which existing theories of SLA are evaluated in the second part of the book.

Part 1 discusses fundamental issues concerning the construction and assessment of SLA theories. In Ch. 1, J outlines some key terms and current problems in SLA, explores the central issues in the philosophy of science (Chs. 2 and 3), defends the rationalist case (Ch. 4), and presents his guidelines for theory assessment (Ch. 5). Part 2 examines various theories, models, and hypotheses of SLA and evaluates them in terms of how well they stand the test of the guidelines. J discusses Noam Chomsky’s theory of universal grammar (UG) and its role in an explanation of SLA (Chs. 6 and 7), as well as approaches to SLA that ‘offend the guidelines’, such as contrastive analysis, Stephen Krashen’s monitor model, variable competence models, environmentalist theories, and the sociopsychological constructs of aptitude and motivation (Ch. 8). Ch. 9 provides an assessment of mostly cognitive approaches that, according to the author, represent ‘signs of progress’ on the road to a theory of SLA: error analysis, the morpheme order studies, developmental studies, processing approaches, and the competition model. Finally, in Ch. 10, J concludes that a theory of SLA should address what L2 competence is, how it is acquired, and how it is put to use. He argues, however, that the domain of SLA theories needs to be far wider than Chomsky’s, as it needs to explain not only a more complex competence, but also performance. The volume ends with a bibliography, and name and subject indices.

In sum, the book provides a useful and highly accessible introduction to the philosophical background to SLA and a good overview of the development of theories and models in SLA. This overview, however, is not fully exhaustive in that, for example, a highly influential approach in SLA such as markedness and (typological) language universals is not discussed. Still, this volume is extremely valuable due its critical approach and comparative evaluation of theories. Thus, it should be of great interest and benefit not only to specialists and researchers, but also to newcomers to the field who need a comprehensive overview.