Monthly Archives: October 2008

Discourse markers in Colombian Spanish: A study in polysemy.

Discourse markers in Colombian Spanish: A study in polysemy. By Catherine E. Travis. (Cognitive linguistics research.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2005. Pp. xiii, 327. ISBN 3110181614. $128 (Hb).

Reviewed by Barbara de Cock, University of Leuven

In Discourse markers in Colombian Spanish, Catherine E. Travis provides an overview of current research on discourse markers, with special attention to Spanish, as well as new insights through the analysis of the polysemy of four Spanish discourse markers.

First, T outlines some basic research questions on discourse markers (Ch. 1) and describes her data set of spontaneous conversation in Colombian Spanish as well as her methods of transcription (Ch. 2). She then provides an exhaustive review of the literature, including research from both the Anglo-Saxon and the Spanish research traditions, and addresses the terminological labyrinth in the field of discourse markers (Ch. 3). In addition to this critical state of the art, the chapter highlights some of the most important prosodic, syntactic, and semantic features of discourse markers. Finally, T briefly introduces the natural semantic metalanguage (NSM) approach (which is used in Chs. 4–7) in which ‘meaning is equated with conceptualisation, and with this focus on conceptualisation it fits into the broader arena of cognitive linguistics’ (61).


These more general chapters are of interest to any linguist in search of a good and critical overview of research on discourse markers. The case studies (Chs. 4–7) may appeal to a more limited audience, but in any case they show T’s accurateness in processing both her own corpus data as well as other researchers’ insights and comments. The cases of bueno (Ch. 4), o sea (Ch. 5), entonces (Ch. 6), and pues (Ch. 7) are described as follows. First, the author sketches the diachronic development of the discourse markers. She then presents previous research before proceeding to a description of the markers’ different functions, using examples from her corpus data. The NSM definitions of these four discourse markers are also summarized in an appendix. These analyses bring the author to a more general description of discourse markers in terms of multifunctionality—based on semantic and pragmatic information—and polysemy, ‘a shared component of meaning, or partial semantic invariant, evident across the range of use of the marker’ (288).


The conclusions summarize the analyses both of the four case studies and of the various theoretical approaches, indicating the main difficulties and the directions for future research. Thus, the volume provides a critical overview of research on discourse markers and opens new paths for work in this domain.


Language variation: Papers on variation and change in the Sinosphere and in the Indosphere in honour of James A. Matisoff.

Language variation: Papers on variation and change in the Sinosphere and in the Indosphere in honour of James A. Matisoff. Ed. by David Bradley, Randy LaPolla, Boyd Michailovsky, and Graham Thurgood. (Pacific linguistics 555.) Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 2003. Pp. xii, 320. ISBN 085883541. $73.93.

Reviewed by Picus S. Ding, Macao Polytechnic Institute

This is a collection of nineteen papers in honor of James Matisoff, a leading figure in the linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman area. The volume starts with a brief biography of Matisoff, followed by David Bradley’s introduction, which highlights Matisoff’s major academic achievements (1–20). The themes of the papers can be roughly divided into seven groups: (A) phonology, (B) morphology, (C) syntax, (D) grammar and discourse, (E) language contact, (F) lexicon, and (G) orthography. Group A includes Martha Ratliff’s discussion of Hmong secret languages (21–33), Jackson Sun’s account of tonal developments in Tibetan (35–51), Robert Bauer’s description of the impact of English loanwords on the Cantonese syllabary (253–61), and Jerold Edmondson’s study of the phonological system of Phu Kha, Xá Phó, and Vietnam Lolo (305–20). Group B covers Carol Genetti’s account of some case studies on linguistic variation found in Newar (53–63), Balthasar Bickel’s proposal of prosodic tautomorphemicity in Sino-Tibetan word structure (89–99), and Benji Wald’s comparative notes on verb compounding in English and East Asian languages (201–18). Group C contains Aimée Lahaussois’s description of split ergativity in Thulung Rai (101–12), Yasuhiko Nagano’s remarks on negation particles in Gyarong (159–72), and David Peterson’s study of agreement and grammatical relations in Hyow (173–83).


Group D encompasses Randy LaPolla’s explication of why languages differ in terms of variation in the conventionalization of constraints on inference (113–44), and Martine Mazaudon’s study of the interface between discourse and grammar in Tamang (145–57). Group E consists of Michael Noonan’s study of language contact between Tibeto-Burman languages and Nepali (Indo-European) in the Himalaya (65–87), Graham Thurgood and Fengxiang Li’s account of contact-induced variation and syntactic change in Tsat (Austronesian) (185–200), and Michel Ferlus’s discussion of borrowing from Middle Chinese into Proto Tibetan (63–75). Group F includes David Bradley’s discussion of deictic patterns in Lisu and Southeastern Tibeto-Burman (219–36), and Boyd Michailovsky’s comparison of time ordinals in Kiranti languages (237–51). Group G comprises Mark Hansell’s study of variations in Chinese character choice in writing loanwords in Taiwan (277–90) and R. Sprigg’s analysis of features of the Lepcha and Limbu scripts (291–304).


As the majority of languages studied in this volume are ‘exotic’, the reader should find many interesting facts about languages that they probably have not heard of. Taking language variation as the basic theme, these papers concern differences observed within the linguistic system. While LaPolla advances an intralanguage explanation for the divergence of languages, Noonan has touched upon a crucial interlanguage factor: language contact, which is a double-edged sword to linguistic diversity. As noted by Thurgood and Li, the chronic language contact with Min and Cantonese has siniticized the typological profile of Tsat, but the acute language contact with Mandarin as a national language is threatening to replace it, just like what Nepali is doing to Kiranti languages.

C-ORAL-ROM: Integrated reference corpora for spoken Romance languages.

C-ORAL-ROM: Integrated reference corpora for spoken Romance languages. Ed. by Emanuela Cresti and Massimo Moneglia. (Studies in corpus linguistics 15.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. Pp. xvii, 304, DVD. ISBN 902722286X. $144 (Hb).

Reviewed by Carolina González, Florida State University

C-ORAL-ROM presents corpora of spontaneous speech of French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish collected in Europe by researchers following the same guidelines. This collaborative effort outlines the history of the project and the conventions and methodological issues that were relevant for its completion.


Ch. 1 deals with the C-ORAL-ROM resource in general. The corpora consist of approximately 300,000 words for each of the four languages and include recordings and texts from a wide variety of contexts, genres, and dialogue structures. Available in the accompanying DVD and through the ELDA Catalogue (, the corpora are presented in a multimedia format that includes both textual and acoustic information. The textual information, which follows the CHAT format (MacWhinney 1994), is prosodically tagged and annotated for part of speech. A key feature of C-ORAL-ROM is text-to-speech alignment, which is a function of the selection of each utterance in the resource through prosodic cues. The resource provides text-to-speech synchronization of roughly 130 hours of spontaneous speech.


Chs. 2–5 focus on the subcorpora for each language, and Ch. 6 provides some discussion of the important role of the utterance—defined as an ‘expression marked by a prosodic terminal break’ (210)—in speech-corpora analysis. Finally, the appendix briefly presents the results from the external evaluation of the prosodic annotation utilized in the project.


The DVD offers several tools. The corpus metadata provides metalinguistic information for each language sample. Glossaries are included for Italian regional forms and Spanish nonstandard forms. Text-to-speech alignment is provided through a demo version of the WinPitch Corpus (© Philippe Martin), where recordings can be listened to and analyzed acoustically with the help of waveforms, spectrograms, and pitch tracking. This is especially helpful for prosodic analysis. A text search engine is also provided, through a demo version of Contextes (1.1.0) (© Jean Véronis). Every match returned for word or lemma searches includes a partial context; the script where the match appears can be uploaded with a simple click. Frequency lists for words and lemmas for each of the subcorpora are also included in the DVD, together with tables and comparative diagrams of relevant linguistic measures and strategies in each language.


Overall, this is a great resource for researchers in the areas of Romance linguistics, corpus linguistics, syntax, second language acquisition, and speech and prosody research. The operation of the DVD and the tools included in it is quite straightforward. The exception is the WinPitch Corpus, for which a troubleshooting section and additional information on its operation would be a welcome addition. An online tutorial for this program is announced at Finally, it is unfortunate that one of the key options in Contextes—playing the context for each match returned through the search function—is not supported in the demo version distributed in the DVD.




Tajik. By Shinji Ido. (Language of the world/materials 442.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2005. Pp. 98. ISBN 3895863165. $71.96.

Reviewed by Andreea S. Calude, The University of Auckland

Today Tajik is recognized as an autonomous West-Iranian language, independent from Persian and Dari, through genetically linked to them. Tajik, spoken in Tajikstan and Uzbekistan, is also influenced by Uzbek, Arabic, and Russian, and even has a ‘sprinkling of words of Chinese origin’ (2). The term ‘Tajik’ has itself been used to denote different things at different times in history, that is, it has been used to differentiate various linguistic, geographical, religious, or ethnic groups of people—though these never quite coincided exactly. Tajik intellectuals, as Ido refers to the people concerned with promoting the Tajik language, were faced with making decisions about which alphabet to use (Latin or Cyrillic), which dialect to base the Tajik language on, and how to incorporate it into the identity of the people living in Tajikstan.


After describing these issues in the first chapter of the book (1–9), I moves to giving a brief discussion of the phonetics and phonology of Tajik in Ch. 2 (11–16). First, vowel and consonant phonemes are given, and then syllable structure and stress are outlined (all examples given throughout the book are in the Cyrillic alphabet).


Ch. 3, the longest chapter in the book, concerns the morphology of Tajik (17–78). The chapter begins with nominal morphology (17–42), treating nouns (including number gender, definitiveness, case, possession), pronouns (personal pronouns, honorific expressions, demonstrative pronouns, reflexives, interrogative pronouns, question words), numerals (cardinal numbers, fractions, ordinal numbers, classifiers, arithmetic vocabulary), adjectives (comparison, intensification, disintensification), and adverbs. Verbal morphology is then discussed (43–71), treating past- and present-tense stems, person and number forms, nonfinite forms, copular verbs, aspect, modality, various verb paradigms (simple past, past imperfective, past perfect, past progressive, present progressive, present imperfective, future), principal mood categories (including inferential, imperative and optative, conditional, speculative, and intentional), participles as predicates, causative voice, passive voice, negation, and auxiliary verbs. Ch. 3 also deals with adpositions (71–72) and outlines word-formation processes (72–78), detailing noun formation, verb formation, adjective formation, and adverb formation.


Ch. 4 is concerned with Tajik syntax (79–85). Three main issues are treated, namely copular verb constructions, coordination (including ‘and’, ‘or’, and ‘but’ coordination), and subordination (with mention of relative clauses, participial modifiers, adverbial clauses, and converb constructions). Interestingly, I makes a point in noting some differences in syntax between spoken and written registers. The final chapter (87–88) gives a small inventory of three short passages: a magazine article (1929), a speech excerpt (2001), and an excerpt from a news report (2003).


Tajik is a very accessible, clearly written, and well-organized book, which can be used by language enthusiasts and professional linguists alike to obtain a quick overview of this fascinating and, to date, underdocumented language.

Numerous meanings: The meaning of English cardinals and the legacy of Paul Grice.

Numerous meanings: The meaning of English cardinals and the legacy of Paul Grice. By Bert Bultinck. Oxford: Elsevier, 2005. Pp. 327. ISBN 0080445578. $99.95.

Reviewed by Michael Haugh, Griffith University

The issue of what English cardinal numbers mean may seem at first glance a fairly specialized topic, but as Bert Bultinck comprehensively demonstrates in his study, resolving this issue has significant implications not only for theorizing about the interface between semantics and pragmatics, but also for the methodological stance that underpins much theorizing in the field of pragmatics.


The book consists of six chapters. Ch. 1, ‘Introduction’ (1–3), contains a very brief statement of the primary focus of B’s study, while Ch. 6, ‘Conclusion’ (303–10), gives a succinct overview of the main findings of his study. The bulk of the content of this book thus lies in the intervening four chapters.


Ch. 2, ‘The Gricean theory of implicature’ (5–59), is a general discussion of the theory of implicature proposed by H. Paul Grice and subsequent modifications of it by neo-Griceans and relevance theorists. The focus here is on a particular type of implicature, namely generalized conversational implicature, and its relationship to the logical meaning of expressions. B concludes that conventional meaning should be identified with ‘familiar meaning’ by examining the frequency of different senses in corpora, a theme that is crucial to this study.


In Ch. 3, ‘Three decades of Gricean numerals’ (61–101), B focuses on the literature associated with the arguments for and against the Gricean view of cardinals. Alternatives to the Gricean approach are also found to be inadequate by B, who thus introduces an ‘absolute value’ approach to cardinals, which is further elaborated upon in the following two chapters.


Ch. 4, ‘General corpus analysis of the forms and functions of English cardinals’ (103–66), constitutes a corpus-based analysis of the different syntactic characteristics and functions of cardinals. The forms and functions of ‘two’ are taken to be representative of other cardinals, although ‘zero’ is considered to be an exceptional case, and so is given a separate treatment in the last section of the chapter. This analysis shows that while numbers can be used to specify cardinality, there are other uses such as in mathematical calculations and time expressions, among other things. There is, however, a correlation to be found between adnominal uses of numerals and cardinality, according to B’s analysis.


In Ch. 5, ‘ “At least n”, “exactly n”, “at most n” and “absolute value” readings’ (167–302), B finally tackles the question of what constitutes the ‘coded’ meaning of cardinals. While one of the key findings of this corpus-based analysis is that cardinals actually have numerous meanings, B argues that the ‘absolute value’ (i.e. with no modal commitment) is the most frequent meaning to be found in the corpus and thus is the conventional (or ‘coded’) meaning of cardinals. While the ‘exactly n’ interpretation is also quite common, it is argued by B that this arises due to the influence of restrictors and definiteness on the ‘absolute value’. The ‘at least’ and ‘at most’ readings of cardinals are found to be much less frequent, arising from extralinguistic material in the cotext (and occasionally the context).


B’s study shows that the Gricean/neo-Gricean view of cardinals is problematic in light of an analysis of the actual usage of numerals. More importantly, however, B demonstrates that a corpus-based analysis has considerable value in furthering our understanding of the meaning of lexical items that appear to lie at the crossroads of semantics and pragmatics.


A synchronic and diachronic study of the grammar of the Chinese Xiang dialects.

A synchronic and diachronic study of the grammar of the Chinese Xiang dialects. By Yunji Wu. (Trends in linguistics: Studies and monographs 162.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2005. Pp. xxii, 438. ISBN 3110183668. $127 (Hb).

Reviewed by Picus S. Ding, Macao Polytechnic Institute

Based on extensive fieldwork in Hunan and data published in China, this book is one of the outcomes of Wu’s projects on the grammar of Xiang. Spoken in the central region of China, Xiang is among the least studied Chinese languages. This is probably the first monograph on Xiang written in English.


The book consists of ten chapters, plus an introductory chapter and ‘Final remarks’, a long list of appendices, and an index. The volume starts with the ‘Introduction’, providing an orientation to the book and an overview of Xiang grammar (1–18). Ch. 1 describes notable phonological features of Xiang, making reference to two varieties (Qiyang and Shaoyang), and explains three kinds of spoken Xiang: ‘spoken’ Changsha, ‘reading’ Changsha, and ‘plastic’ Putonghua (19–44). Ch. 2 discusses how Xiang could be written in Chinese characters, citing texts from a novel and local operas (45–71). Ch. 3 examines the morphology of Xiang and morphological development in some varieties of Xiang (72–113). Chs. 4 and 5 center on pronouns (114–38) and adverbs (139–77), respectively, addressing the evolution of personal pronouns and demonstrative pronouns as well as negative adverbs (viz. negation particles). Ch. 6 focuses on the evolution of passive and ‘disposal’ constructions in Xiang (178–206). Ch. 7 deals with perfective, anterior, and continuative markers and grammaticalization of locative markers to aspectual markers in Xiang (207–65). Ch. 8 studies the evolution of the attributive and nominalized particles, adverbial particles, and complement particles (266–97). Ch. 9 revolves around modal particles and their evolution in Xiang (298–326). Ch. 10 investigates the evolution of double-object and deconstructions in Xiang (327–63). ‘Final remarks’ summarizes the distinctive grammatical features of Xiang discussed in these chapters (364–65). The lengthy appendices encompass a description of the sounds of Xiang and details on data and their sources, among other miscellaneous items (366–403).


Rich in data, this volume is undoubtedly a valuable contribution to Chinese linguistics. Its presentation and organization, however, have some shortcomings. W has overlooked that most readers will be non-Chinese with little knowledge of the linguistic tradition and practice in China. The concept of fangyan in Chinese should not have been treated as an equivalent to dialect, for example, ‘Hunan “dialects” can be classified into: Xiang “dialects”, Southwestern Mandarin “dialects”, Gan and Hakka “dialects”, Waxiang “dialect” within the Mandarin-speaking areas’ (1). All of these ‘dialects’ are members of the big Chinese family, but of different generations. Xiang, Mandarin, Gan, and Hakka are at the same level; Southwestern Mandarin is a dialect of Mandarin only, not a dialect of Xiang or Gan. Finally, instead of relegating all maps to the end of the book, it would be more convenient for the reader if they were placed near the relevant texts.


Language and creativity: The art of common talk.

Language and creativity: The art of common talk. By Ronald Carter. New York: Routledge, 2004. Pp. xiii, 255. ISBN 0415234492. $35.95.

Reviewed by Carolina González, Florida State University

Language and creativity: The art of common talk explores creativity in spoken English. It argues that, far from being an attribute of gifted individuals, creativity is pervasive and essential in interpersonal communication and best understood with reference to social and cultural contexts.


In the introduction (1–13), Carter discusses the origin of the book, together with its rationale and organization. While creativity is well studied from a psychological point of view, it has been neglected in linguistics. In this area, the emphasis has been on the study of creativity in written rather than spoken language, and sociocultural factors have been mostly overlooked. This book attempts to be a step in the exploration of creativity in ‘everyday spoken English’ (11) from a social rather than mentalistic point of view.


This volume is divided into six chapters organized into three parts: ‘Backgrounds and theories’, ‘Forms and functions’, and ‘Contexts and variations’. Ch. 1, ‘Approaches to creativity’ (17–52), lays the groundwork for the study of creativity in language by reviewing how different disciplines have approached this topic. Ch. 2, ‘Lines and clines: Linguistic approaches’ (53–86), argues that creativity has multiple forms and functions, varying according to the social context and the identity and values of its users.


Part 2, ‘Forms and functions’, examines creative resources in spoken language data from CANCODE (Cambridge and Nottingham Corpus of Discourse in English), a computerized corpus of spoken English with five million words recorded from 1993 to 2001. Some of the most pervasive figures of speech are exemplified in ‘Creativity and patterns of talk’ (Ch. 3, 89–114) and ‘Figures of speech’ (Ch. 4, 115–43). These include puns, wordplay, neologisms, repetition, and also metaphors, idioms, and hyperbole. These resources are used for different purposes, among them enjoyment, entertainment, and displaying identity.


Chs. 5 and 6, ‘Creativity, language and social context’ (147–69) and ‘Creativity, discourse and social practice’ (170–217), examine creativity in different social contexts and settings. C’s conclusion is that spoken creativity is probabilistic and more prevalent in specific contexts, under specific types of interpersonal relationships.


Three appendices follow. Appendix 1 (219–21) provides a list of the conventions used in the transcription of data and comments on some aspects of corpus analysis. Appendix 2 (222–26) briefly discusses creative-prone suffixes -y and -ish, frequently used to create neologisms in the CANCODE data. Appendix 3 (227–30) lists CANCODE publications from 1994 to 2003. References and a thematic index follow.


This book provides a fascinating addition to our understanding of the nature of creativity in language. It is superbly researched, well organized, and very readable. Every chapter ends with a detailed list of suggestions for further reading, which will be very helpful to researchers interested in the study of creativity in language from many different angles.


Tense and aspect in Romance languages: Theoretical and applied perspectives.

Tense and aspect in Romance languages: Theoretical and applied perspectives. Ed. by Dalila Ayoun and M. Rafael Salaberry. (Studies in bilingualism 29.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. Pp. x, 316. ISBN 9027241406. $155 (Hb).

Reviewed by Roberta D’Alessandro, University of Cambridge

This book brings together contributions by linguists working on the second language (L2) development of Romance tense-aspectual systems. The aim of the book is to present new experimental data and to set a common ground for their analysis, in order to start elaborating a more comprehensive model of the acquisition of tense-aspect in Romance languages.

The book is divided into seven chapters. The first chapter, by M. Rafael Salaberry and Dalila Ayoun, presents a review of the current hypotheses about the development of tense and aspect within six different theoretical approaches, classified according to the importance they place on pragmatics, semantics, text, input, cognition, and syntax. After this review, some potential theoretical and methodological challenges are identified, such as the difficulty of classifying lexical aspectual classes, the difficulty of incorporating the various insights into a coherent theoretical framework, the difficulty of separating the levels of lexical and grammatical aspect, and the problem of research design.

Chs. 2–5 present novel empirical data on the acquisition of tense and aspect in L2 Catalan (Ch. 2, by Llorenç Comajoan), L2 French (Ch. 3, by Dalila Ayoun), L2 Italian (Ch. 4, by Sonia Rocca), and L2 Spanish and L3 Portuguese (Ch. 5, by M. Rafael Salaberry). A number of theoretical issues is also addressed in these chapters, such as the extent to which grounding categories are binary (Ch. 2), whether L2 learners actually acquire both the inflectional morphology and the semantic properties associated with the AspP projection (Ch. 3), whether the aspect hypothesis proposed in Shirai 1991 and Andersen & Shirai 1994 may explain the data collected by studying the development of past forms in the Italian interlanguage of three English-speaking children (Ch. 4), and the role of lexical semantics, distributional biases in native speaker discourse, and general cognitive processes (Ch. 5).

In Ch. 6, Carl Blyth uses the results of the empirical studies presented in Chs. 2–5 to outline a proposal for classroom applications for the teaching of the aspectual distinctions in Romance languages. After an overview of the pedagogical principles derived from the research on L2 aspect acquisition, Blyth shows how to design lessons on aspect and provides a very useful appendix in which a class for beginners is sketched.

In Ch. 7, Ayoun and Salaberry summarize the results addressed in the book in order to elaborate a comprehensive model of the development of tense-aspect marking in the Romance languages.

This book is a very good example of how bringing together different approaches can result in an effective and fruitful discussion and in a better understanding of the topic as a whole.

Language and identity: National, ethnic, religious.

Language and identity: National, ethnic, religious. By John E. Joseph. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Pp. 268. ISBN 0333997530. $26.95.

Reviewed by Rizwan Ahmad, University of Michigan

Much recent work in sociolinguistics focuses on the role that language plays in the construction of social identities. John Joseph’s book, which consists of eight chapters, addresses fundamental issues that inform most research on language and identity. Ch. 1 discusses the theoretical concept of identity as a social construct, rather than a natural fact. J further shows that identity is not unitary or fixed, but rather multiple and variable.

Ch. 2 provides a historical conspectus on the relevant linguistic research, which has treated language as either a system of representation or a means of communication. J argues that Bronislaw Malinowski’s view that meaning depends on the ‘context of situation’ was a breakthrough in decentering language as a system of representation and constituted pioneering research on language as a sociocultural phenomenon. J argues that linguistic identity is significant because it is both a way of communicating and a way of categorizing.

Ch. 3 situates the study of language and identity within the larger framework of the study of language. J gives an overview of the ideas and concepts that led to the emergence of scholarly interests in the language-identity issue in the twentieth century; this includes work by Valentin N. Voloshinov in the former Soviet Union, Edward Sapir in North America, and John R. Firth and his students in Britain. In Ch. 4, J discusses contributions made to the language-identity research by scholars in other fields, for example, Erving Goffman, Basil Bernstein, Howard Giles, Michel Foucault, and Pierre Bourdieu.

Ch. 5 focuses on the role of language in the construction of national identity. J gives an extensive review of the emergence of the concept of nationalism, tracing it back to the Old Testament. Then he discusses the crystallization that the concept ‘nation’ went through during the French and American revolutions. Linking his discussion of nationalism to language, J argues that language is a social construct just as much as nationalism is.

Ch. 6 is an empirical chapter that discusses the sociolinguistic situation of Hong Kong in general and the status of English in particular. J argues that what is often referred to as a ‘decline’ of English in Hong Kong may actually be a beginning of the emergence of a new variety of English, one that may serve as a marker of Hong Kong identity distinct from mainland Chinese identity.

Ch. 7 focuses on linguistic aspects of ethnic and religious identities. As an example of the power of ethnic identity, J points out that African-Americans continue to have a different dialect despite living in the same neighborhoods with caucasians for generations. He also cites studies on linguistic crossing, which highlights the ways language is used to enact ethnic boundaries. He indicates, however, that studies on crossing reinforce the conservative view that people are linguistically expected to stick to their ethnic labels. J also discusses how personal names, understudied in linguistics, serve as tokens of ethnic and religious identities.

Ch. 8 is an empirical study that discusses the role of language in the construction of Christian identity in Lebanon. J shows that the choice of the second language in the bilingual repertoire of Lebanese is a marker of religious identity. Christians, especially Maronites, of Lebanon are more likely to be French-Arabic bilinguals than are Muslims, for whom the second language is often English.

This book concludes with an afterword in which J emphasizes that for a rich and meaningful study of language, identity research must take center stage.

Standard Lithuanian

Standard Lithuanian. By Ian Press. (Languages of the world/materials 439.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2004. Pp. v, 55. ISBN 3895868329. $55.44.

Reviewed by Richard W. Hallett, Northeastern Illinois University

This brief book presents an overview of Standard Lithuanian. According to Ian Press, the standard variety of Lithuanian is based on West Aukštaitic, the dialect of Jonas Jablonskis, a linguist revered as the ‘father of Lithuanian’ (2). The main contents of the book are an introduction (v); background information on the Lithuanian language (1–2); a section on the alphabet, pronunciation, and phonology (3–6); and a section on grammar (7–53). This last section constitutes the bulk of the text.

In his concise background of the Lithuanian language, P discusses the argument as to whether the Baltic languages, of which Lithuanian is one, form a linguistic branch of Proto-Indo-European that broke off separately from the Slavic branch. P downplays this argument, stating that there is a ‘world of differences’ (1) between the modern-day Slavic languages and Baltic Lithuanian. The author then addresses the commonly held belief that Lithuanian is an ‘archaic’ Indo-European language. P prefers the term ‘conservative’ to ‘archaic’ (1) to describe the highly inflected nominal system of the language.

In the following section, P gives the thirty-two letters of the Lithuanian alphabet and mentions a few digraphs. He then presents examples of short vowels, long vowels, and diphthongs and provides a basic consonant inventory. He ends this section with examples of Lithuanian adaptations of foreign place names to illustrate Lithuanian spellings and grammatical endings.

The first feature of grammar that P discusses in the next section is the accent types of Lithuanian vowels and diphthongs, which may be long or short and, accordingly, have rising or falling intonation. The author then turns to a discussion of gender (masculine and feminine), number (singular and plural, with some dual forms remaining), case (nominative, genitive, dative, ablative, instrumental, locative, and vocative), person (first, second, and third; singular and plural), and tense (the present and the simple past being the most common). In the subsequent section on nouns, P presents five declension types. Then he presents three declension types of adjectives, and lists the personal, demonstrative, and indefinite pronouns, and for numerals: cardinals, ordinals, and fractions.

The lengthiest presentation in the grammar section is P’s explanation of Lithuanian verbs. He explains how Lithuanian verbs are inflected to mark the indicative, imperative, conditional, and oblique moods. He also examines verbal aspect, Aktionsart, conjugations, participles (including the half-participle), and gerunds. Following this long section, P presents a shorter discussion of adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, and onomatopoeic words. P concludes this book with a final note on Lithuanian word order and particles.

This short book contains a wealth of information. P’s overview of Standard Lithuanian belongs on the bookshelves not only of linguists who study Lithuanian in particular and Baltic languages in general, but also of those who research historical linguistics, the comparative method, and (Proto-)Indo-European.