Monthly Archives: November 2008

Politeness and face in Caribbean Creoles.

Politeness and face in Caribbean Creoles. Ed. by Susanne Mühleisen and Bettina Migge. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. Pp. 293. ISBN 9789027248947. $169 (Hb).

Reviewed by Michael Haugh, Griffith University

The notions of ‘politeness’ and ‘face’ in different languages and cultures have been the subject of a vast amount of research over the past thirty years. However, there has been little research done on politeness phenomena and facework in nonstandard Englishes. The eleven chapters in this edited volume address a significant gap in face and politeness research to date, focusing on these issues in the context of communicative practices in various Caribbean Creole communities.

Bettina Migge and Susanne Mühleisen’s opening chapter, ‘Politeness and face in Caribbean Creoles’, gives an overview of previous anthropological research in the Caribbean context, before framing the collection in terms of Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson’s politeness theory and Erving Goffman’s work on face and self. The remaining chapters are divided into three broad sections.

Part 1, which focuses on facework in the context of performing rudeness, contains four chapters. Peter Snow, in ‘The use of “bad” language as a politeness strategy in a Panamanian Creole community’, investigates the use of ‘obscene’ language to participate in conversation and thereby cooperatively preserve the face of the storyteller. In ‘Ritualized insults and the African diaspora’, Nicolas Faraclas, Lourdes Pérez González, Migdalia Medina, and Wendell Villanueva Reyes compare ritual insulting among Nigerian Pidgin-speaking children with African American practices, as well as with patterns found among young people in Turkey. Esther Figueroa, in ‘Rude sounds: Kiss Teeth and negotiation of the public sphere’, shows how this gesture is involved in the negotiation of moral standing between individuals in public contexts. Finally, Joseph Farquharson, in ‘The sociopragmatics of homophobia in Jamaican (Dancehall) culture’, analyzes how the use of derogatory words and threats in songs is used to perform and maintain heterosexual norms and identity.

Part 2, which attends to face and positive politeness practices in the context of performing speech acts, contains another four chapters. Bettina Migge, in ‘Greeting and social change’, examines changes in greeting routines in the East Maroon community. Jack Sidnell then argues that displays of both uncertainty and expertise are interactionally achieved rather than being driven by face needs in ‘Advice in an Indo-Guyanese village and the interactional organization of uncertainty’. Janina Fenigsen, in ‘Meaningful routines’, next examines ideological contestation of greeting routines for satirical purposes rather than being courteous indications of recognition. Finally, Susanne Mühleisen, in ‘Forms of address in English-lexicon Creoles’, discusses the origins and development of different uses of address forms across English-based Creoles.

Part 3, which discusses the development of face in relation to linguistic and cultural socialization, encompasses two more chapters. In the first chapter, ‘The development of face-saving in young Trinidadian children’, Valerie Youssef examines how the development of attention to face needs can be observed in the conversations of three Trinidadian children. Lastly, Alex Louise Tessonneau examines the teaching of greetings to very young children in ‘Learning respect in Guadeloupe’.

While acknowledging recent work that has attempted to move beyond Parsonian conceptualizations of politeness and face, this collection makes a contribution that is oriented more toward broadening our understanding of these phenomena in social contexts that have been relatively unexplored to date, rather than on theorizing about face or politeness per se. Nevertheless, interesting theoretical insights and implications for face and politeness theory can be gleaned from various chapters in this volume.

A handbook of phonetics.

A handbook of phonetics. By Luciano Canepari. (LINCOM textbooks in linguistics 10.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2005. Pp. 502. ISBN 3895864803. $209.72 (Hb).

Reviewed by Jason Brown, University of British Columbia

A handbook of phonetics was originally written in Italian and translated into English and is the companion volume to A handbook of pronunciation, also authored by Canepari. The book introduces the phonetic method of natural phonetics, which involves articulatory, auditory, and functional aspects. The work is a full system of descriptive phonetics, especially for means of teaching and learning pronunciation. Thus, the aims are toward a systematic method and thoroughly descriptive set of phonetic symbols and visual components that are designed to help a learner develop phonetic kinesthesia and accurate pronunciation.

The book can be broken down into two main parts: a general part, and a series of phonetic descriptions of various languages. The first fourteen chapters deal with issues concerning phonetics and the learning of pronunciation. A description of all of the segmental sounds of speech, the suprasegmental sounds (including tone and intonation), and paralinguistic phenomena is provided. The book deals with approximately one thousand segmental sounds, and each is described in detail with regard to place of articulation, manner of articulation, and so on. Many visual devices are introduced in order to aid in phonetic description and pronunciation, such as vocograms, labiograms, orograms, palatograms, and tonograms. The book provides a detailed criticism of the official International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and offers the alternative, extended version of the IPA, referred to as CANIPA. In general, the goal of using CANIPA is to achieve greater accuracy with respect to teaching and learning a given pronunciation, but also with respect to the description of languages. Such accuracy is the stimulus for the second part of the book, which is based on actual recordings of each language as analyzed by the author.

The second part of the book, Chs. 15–23, gives a brief overview of the phonetics, or ‘phonosyntheses’, of various languages. The languages covered in these chapters are classed geographically (and not necessarily genetically). In concordance with the original Italian version of the handbook, sixty-three Italian dialects are described first, followed by languages from Europe (79), Africa (25), Asia (58), Oceania (6), and America (31). There are also phonosyntheses of seventy-two dead languages, devised through internal reconstruction and the sound files of existing daughter languages, and one extraterrestrial language (considered as a potential interlanguage). Each phonosynthesis consists of a description of the segmental inventory of each language, a brief intonational inventory, and notable differences from related languages or dialects. Also provided is a utilizable bibliography at the end of the book.

Overall, the book offers a systematic method (and alphabet) for transcribing and describing speech sounds, as well as a series of descriptions of the sounds of many languages. While natural phonetics involves more symbols and more descriptive rigor than other phonetic methods, it has been designed for the maximal amount of accuracy attainable, both for the sake of language description, and with the learner of pronunciation in mind. It is in this way that the author has produced a comprehensive system of descriptive standards, as well as provided a set of language descriptions based on this method.

Sociolinguistic variation in seventeenth-century France.

Sociolinguistic variation in seventeenth-century France. By Wendy Ayres-Bennett. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pp. xii, 267. ISBN 052182088X. $101 (Hb).

Reviewed by Kirsten Fudeman, University of Pittsburgh

Near the beginning of her latest book, Wendy Ayres-Bennett writes, ‘it may seem perverse to try and reconstruct variation in seventeenth-century France, since this period is generally characterized as one of rigid codification and standardization, concerned with the establishment of the norms of written French, and thus of the elimination of variation’ (3–4). In fact, as she states and then demonstrates, the seventeenth century is fertile ground for this kind of enterprise, thanks to the attention paid by authors of metalinguistic texts (e.g. dictionaries, grammars, and collections of observations on the French language) to even small departures from the standard. The genius of this study lies in the way that A combines information from these sources with data from literary and nonliterary texts, and comparative evidence from Canadian French and French-based creoles.

The book has six chapters. Ch. 1, ‘Introduction: Methodological issues’ (1–16), addresses topics such as finding appropriate sources, choosing variables for analysis, and interpreting the data. Ch. 2, ‘Spoken and written French’ (17–60), explores in greater detail the sources available for evidence regarding spoken seventeenth-century French and offers several case studies, with many more to follow in later chapters. In Ch. 3, ‘Social and stylistic variation’ (61–110), A examines evidence of variation according to socioeconomic status or social class and asks to what degree it is possible to separate this from register. Ch. 4, ‘Women’s language’ (111–80), deals with a number of issues, including women’s education and position in society, positive and negative attitudes toward women’s language use, préciosité, and specific features of women’s language. Ch. 5, ‘Age, variation and change’ (181–224), is primarily concerned with change over time. Ch. 6 is the ‘Conclusion’ (225–29). An appendix contains a useful listing of metalinguistic texts available for the study of seventeenth-century French, ranging from collections of observations and remarques to dictionaries, grammars, model dialogues, and works on French pronunciation, orthography, versification, and prosody.


A’s concern with methodology is evident throughout the volume. How does the sociohistorical linguist concerned with variation in the spoken language select appropriate sources? What problems are associated with these sources, and is it possible to compensate for them using other types of evidence? When are statistical approaches possible, and when does the type of evidence available render them meaningless or impossible? A demonstrates that historical studies of syntactic variation in speech can pose particular challenges. Syntactic constructions that were presumably common in lower registers based on criticisms found in metalinguistic texts are not necessarily well documented in other types of written sources, even those that are rich in dialogue. Literary texts often convey the impression of lower-register speech through their vocabulary; their syntax tends to be standardized. Nonetheless, A successfully documents syntactic variation, along with variation in morphology, phonology, and lexis.

This volume will be of great interest not only to specialists in the history of the French language, but also to scholars interested in historical and sociohistorical linguistics in general. A’s many carefully constructed case studies would make excellent models for graduate students and others wishing to embark on similar kinds of studies.


The phonology of Endo: A southern Nilotic language of Kenya.

The phonology of Endo: A southern Nilotic language of Kenya. By Joost Zwarts. (LINCOM studies in African linguistics 59.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2004. Pp. 142. ISBN 3895868205. $80.36.

Reviewed by Carolina González, Florida State University

This book is a comprehensive description of the phonology of Endo, a Southern Nilotic language spoken by 50,000 speakers in Kenya. It is based on previous sources and Zwarts’s fieldwork in the area from 1998 to 2002.

The book is divided into eight chapters. Ch. 1 (11–15) is a brief introduction to Endo and its genetic affiliation. Chs. 2 (17–19) and 3 (20–32) outline the consonant and vowel inventories of the language. There are thirteen consonant phonemes and twenty vowels; the vowels are distinguished on the basis of quality (there are five distinct qualities), length (short vs. long), and tongue-root position (advanced or retracted).

Ch. 4 (33–53) provides a description of syllable structure. Endo has simple codas and certain complex onsets. Clusters with initial [p] or nasal-plosive sequences are considered extrasyllabic because they are never codas and they appear only root-initially. Roots typically have one or two syllables. An interesting distinction is made between absent and empty onsets; empty onsets may be realized as [h] in intervocalic position before nonlow vowels. This chapter also considers reduplication, which can be total or partial. In partial reduplication, the coda or the onset of the base might delete, depending on which has less sonority.

Chs. 5 (54–69) and 6 (70–82) describe phonological processes involving consonants and vowels respectively. Some examples include assimilation, which primarily targets plosives and glides, and elision, which occurs both in onsets and codas. For vowels, Z describes glide formation, vowel length changes, and coalescence, among other phenomena.

Vowel harmony is discussed separately in Ch. 7 (83–94). It primarily involves [+ATR] dominant vowel harmony in the domain of the word. Neutral [–ATR] affixes that block harmony and [+ATR] affixes that fail to trigger it are also discussed, as well as a floating [+ATR] feature, which is active in certain cases of plural formation, plural agent nominalization, and irregular allomorphy in noun roots.

The last chapter sketches the main characteristics of tone (95–97). Three contrastive tones are identified: high, low, and falling. All have conditioned variants in certain contexts. Two appendices follow. Appendix A lists minimal pairs in the language (98–101); this appendix probably should have been incorporated into the main text. Appendix B (102–33) provides a summary of segmental morphology as related to the main issues described in the book. A list of references and a thematic index follow.

This book provides a succinct description of the phonology of Endo. The organization is good overall, but it would have been nice to see an overview of the contents in the first chapter. A more thorough analysis of tone would also be welcome. Phonologists and linguists interested in the morphology and phonology of African languages will mostly benefit from this description.

Angles on the English-speaking world, vol. 4: Writing and vocabulary in foreign language acquisition.

Angles on the English-speaking world, vol. 4: Writing and vocabulary in foreign language acquisition. Ed. by Dorte Albrechtsen, Kirtsen Haastrup, and Birgit Henriksen. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2004. Pp. 151. ISBN 8772899328. $25.

Reviewed by Richard W. Hallett, Northeastern Illinois University

This volume, one of a series of annual publications by the Department of English at the University of Copenhagen, focuses on issues of writing and vocabulary acquisition. The first three articles concern the former and the remaining five the latter.

In the first article, ‘Activity systems for ESL writing improvement: Case studies of three Chinese and three Japanese adult learners of English’ (13–33), Luxin Yang, Kyoko Baba, and Alister Cumming use activity theory to explain how preuniversity English as a second language (ESL) students acquire written skills in academic English. They conclude that learning to write in a second language is both an ‘internal process’ and ‘the product of external factors’ (29).

Alister Cumming, Keanre Eouanzoui, Guillaume Gentil, and Luxin Yang, in ‘Scaling changes in learners’ goals for writing improvement over an ESL course’ (35–49), also focus their research on preuniversity ESL students. They show that ESL students’ long-term aspirations, goal objectives, and actions toward their goals in ESL writing are ‘fundamentally similar’ at the beginning and end of their ESL programs (45).

In ‘Attention to argumentation in learner text production: How do we capture learner ability in argumentation?’ (51–68), Dorte Albrechtsen, Kirsten Haastrup, and Birgit Henriksen present their analysis of five English as a foreign language (EFL) protocols. They conclude that restricted writing tasks might give insight into the development of argumentative writing.

Anna Cieślicka and David Singleton, in ‘Metaphorical competence and the L2 learner’ (69–84), define metaphorical competence in second language (L2) learning and review work in the area, and offer possible pedagogical implications.

‘V_links: Beyond vocabulary depth’ (85–96), by Paul Meara and Brent Wolter, argues against distinguishing between vocabulary depth and breadth. Instead, the article claims that a more productive distinction is between vocabulary size and organization.

In ‘Second language reading and incidental vocabulary learning’ (97–110), Rob Waring and Paul Nation review current research on L2 reading and incidental vocabulary acquisition and conclude with possible pedagogical implications.

Kirsten Haastrup, Dorte Albrechtsen, and Birgit Henriksen, in ‘Lexical inferencing processes in L1 and L2: Same or different? Focus on issues in design and method’ (111–28), report on their initial foray into the lexical inference processing of Danish learners of English in their native language and English. The authors conclude with additional matters to be taken into consideration in their full study.

In the final article, ‘The relationship between vocabulary size and reading comprehension in the L2’ (129–47), Birgit Henriksen, Dorte Albrechtsen, and Kirsten Haastrup also examine Danish learners’ acquisition of English vocabulary. They suggest ‘a probability zone’ (137) that considers vocabulary size as well as lexical inferencing skills and lexical organizational structures that determine reading ability.

This book is a nice addition to the current publications on L2 vocabulary acquisition and would provide good supplemental readings for courses on second language acquisition and seminars on vocabulary learning.

Language in use: Cognitive and discourse perspectives on language and language learning.

Language in use: Cognitive and discourse perspectives on language and language learning. Ed. by Andrea E. Tyler, Mari Takada, Yiyoung Kim, and Diana Marinova. (Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics.) Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2005. Pp. xiv, 223. ISBN 1589010442. $44.95.

Reviewed by Susanna Bartsch, Center for General Linguistics, Typology, and Universals Research

This volume contains a selection of papers presented at the 2003 Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics (GURT 2003), which had the main goal of bringing together research focusing on discourse-based and cognitive linguistics (CL) accounts of language. The papers are structured in four parts: language processing and L1 learning, L2 learning, discourse resources and meaning construction, and language and identity. In what follows, one paper from each of these parts is highlighted.

Adele Eva Goldberg and Giulia M. L. Bencini present their constructional approach to argument structure, in which the meaning of both verb and argument structure construction contribute to the overall meaning of a sentence. Evidence for this assumption is drawn from experimental research on sentence comprehension and production in adults. For instance, in production, a ‘constructional priming’ effect (11f.) is observed, in which not constituent structures, but constructions, as form-meaning pairings, are primed.

Susanne Niemeier explores the application of crucial tenets of CL to L2 teaching. She focuses on the handling of metaphorization of content and functional words in L2 teaching and how it might help learners to assess similar structuring principles underlying lexis and grammar. For instance, working with metaphor can enhance the learning of prepositions, if it is shown how basic (spatial) meanings and metaphorized (e.g. temporal and abstract) meanings of prepositions are related to each other.

Ann Wennerstrom is concerned with the use of CL models for studying the patterns of high-pitched contrast intonation and low-pitched given intonation and their interaction with cognitive processes (categorization and inference). In discourse, for instance, contrast intonation often aligns with ad hoc categorical oppositions, creating new mental spaces for them, whereas given intonation has a deictic function, indicating elements available in the mental space network. Interestingly, the (de)accentuated items do not require lexical opposites and antecedents.

Cynthia Gordon investigates the way adult members of the family of a three-year-old child use future-oriented narrative-like discourse to socialize the child into her future identity as ‘big sister’. Gordon identifies four narrative dimensions (action, interpersonal, imaginative, and evaluative) in adult-child conversations that do the most identity work. One shortcoming of this study is that it relies on a very small corpus (only nine instances of adult-child conversations).

The editors deserve praise for the organization of the volume in broad areas of inquiry relevant for the related discourse and CL paradigms, as well as for their selection of papers (sixteen from among the 120 papers presented at GURT 2003) dealing with topics of great interest in the mentioned research paradigms. Complementing this volume, another publication presents eighteen more papers from the GURT 2003 conference (Language in the context of use: Discourse and cognitive approaches to language, ed. by Andrea Tyler, Yiyoung Kim, and Mari Takada, Amsterdam: Mouton de Gruyter, 2008). GURT 2003 and both volumes constitute a most valuable contribution to the strengthening of linguistic research programs in which nonmodular and usage-based views of language and cognition are crucial.

The phonology of Mongolian.

The phonology of Mongolian. By Jan-Olof Svantesson, Anna Tsendina, Anastasia Karlsson, and Vivan Franzén. (The phonology of the world’s languages.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Pp. 334. ISBN 0199260176. $125 (Hb).

Reviewed by Jason Brown, University of British Columbia

This book, a comprehensive treatment of the phonology of Mongolian, is the culmination of many years of research on the topic by the authors. It provides an overview of the various aspects of the phonology of the language, and also gives both a synchronic and a diachronic treatment of Mongolian. Halh Mongolian (commonly known as Khalkha) is the primary language studied in the book; the authors, however, have given an extensive overview of the phonologies of all of the Mongolic languages, including their geographic locations, phonemic inventories, their major phonological processes (where divergent from Halh), and their historical development.

The initial chapters provide a description of the consonants and vowels of Mongolian, followed by an overview of the phonemic contrasts. Issues such as labialization, palatalization, and vowel reduction are discussed. Further chapters cover the major phonological aspects of Mongolian, including syllabification and epenthesis, prosody (including accent and prominence, intonation, and word stress), reduplication, and of course, the well-known case of vowel harmony. Also covered are the issues concerning syllable structure, the alternations between schwa and zero, and full and reduced vowels, as well as consonant cluster phonotactics and cooccurrence constraints. The discussion of vowel harmony includes an in-depth synchronic analysis, as well as a diachronic treatment, where the authors trace the variation in vowel harmony between the various Mongolic languages back to diachronic sound changes and the restructuring of vowel inventories. The same type of analysis is given for stop deaspiration, palatalization, and labialization. The book also provides a fairly detailed discussion of the various writing systems that have been used for Mongolian, including historical scripts, and those used today, most notably the Cyrillic and the modern Mongolian scripts.

There are many chapters dedicated to the historical aspects of Mongolian. The authors reconstruct the phonology of Proto-Mongolian, and illustrate the sound changes that have shaped the present-day phonologies of the various Mongolic languages. The treatment of Old Mongolian includes the various stages of that language and detailed phonological reconstructions. Each of the Mongolic languages, in turn, receives a synchronic phonological treatment. There is also an extended comparative vocabulary of the various languages, which allows the reader to identify phonological variations in cognate forms.

This book is comprehensive in its scope; not only is a synchronic treatment of Mongolian given, but also a diachronic treatment that includes the reconstruction of Old Mongolian and the pathways that each of the Mongolic languages followed in their sound changes and development. The book stands as a model; it is written in a fairly theory-neutral fashion, with more attention paid to the sound patterns than to theoretical approaches to those patterns. Such an in-depth analysis of a language, and family of languages, will be interesting to most phoneticians and phonologists who read it. It is accessible both to phonologists and to scholars of Mongolian.

Historical linguistics: An introduction.

Historical linguistics: An introduction. 2nd edn. By Lyle Campbell. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004. Pp. 448. ISBN 0262532670. $33.

Reviewed by Gert Guthenberg, University of Georgia

Among the plethora of introductory textbooks in historical linguistics on the market today Campbell’s book holds a prominent position. In smoothly flowing prose C presents the various types of language change at different levels of linguistic structure and the important schools, theories, and paradigms of historical linguistics. He does not shy away from complex issues and provides a wide range of examples from many languages and language families. This book is therefore easily accessible for any student with a basic prior introduction to linguistics. The abundant data and exercises make this textbook particularly useable within a classroom setting.

C does not hesitate to point out the shortcomings of those neogrammarian comparativists who underestimate the impact of variation and contact for language change. For him both the neogrammarian notion that sound laws have no exceptions and the diffusionist postulate that each word has its own history are equally true. Data collected with less rigid methods have often led diffusionists to reject the neogrammarian regularity principle. Since these methods have been insensitive to different styles and socially conditioned variation, they have failed to identify complex phonetic conditioning environments. Once these environments have been established, the apparent exceptions to the sound laws can, in accordance with the neogrammarian paradigm, be explained by analogy or dialect borrowing. While the family-tree perspective of the neogrammarians gives no provision for dealing directly with language contact and variation, the wave perspective of the diffusionists does not provide the means for identifying existing patterns over and above individual isoglosses and word etymologies. Therefore both are needed for a full understanding of language change.

Several areas thoroughly covered in this book are treated only superficially or not at all in most other introductory textbooks of historical linguistics. The reader will thus encounter topics such as areal linguistics, sociolinguistic contributions to language change, general theories about the nature of the mechanisms that cause languages to change, distant genetic relationships, and linguistic prehistory. The way C integrates these topics shows convincingly that each has direct implications for the more traditional fields and methods of historical linguistics. C’s treatment of the first two topics mentioned above may serve to illustrate this. The chapter on areal linguistics shows that comparativists have in some instances mistaken areal features for common innovations and thereby constructed subgroups on false grounds. Sociolinguistic researchers like William Labov have identified variation down to the individual level as the root of language change. C presents important findings from research in this area. Changes tend to originate in the intermediate social classes, where the innovators have the highest density of social interaction. Women are at the forefront of most linguistic changes. Different ethnic groups who newly enter a speech community participate in changes in progress only to the extent that they begin to gain access to or acceptance in the society. This is where the synchronic and diachronic perspectives of language study meet. The uniformitarian principle allows us to assume that the same mechanisms at work in ongoing change at one point in time should operate at another time period. No contemporary textbook of historical linguistics should omit this perspective.



Triggers. Ed. by Anne Breitbarth and Henk van Riemsdijk. (Studies in generative grammar.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2004. Pp. vi, 496. ISBN 3110181398. $127 (Hb).

Reviewed by Michael Barrie, University of Toronto

This volume is a collection of papers that grew out of a workshop on triggers held at the University of Tilburg in October of 2002. Each paper deals with a different aspect of triggers, which the editors define as ‘requirements of some sort that cause syntactic effects, most notably displacement’ (1). Despite the common thread, that is, displacement, that unites all of the articles in this book, the authors tackle a wide variety of phenomena across an impressive range of languages and language families, taking up several current disparate theoretical issues. The result of these different backgrounds and approaches to triggers is a diverse collection of papers dealing with a different aspect of grammar in each case.


Enoch O. Aboh’s paper argues that generalized pied-piping is not free but is subject to general economy conditions. He shows that head movement cannot be relegated to PF as it has semantic effects in verb-focusing constructions in Gungbe. Aboh then addresses the longstanding question as to why the functional heads C, I, and D trigger head movement rather than XP movement, showing that XP movement is instantiated in many languages around the world and that this movement results in a ‘Snowballing’ effect in which the complement of an XP raises to the specifier of the same XP.


Gabriela Alboiu’s contribution tackles the tricky area of optionality and how to deal with it in a minimalist framework. Specifically, she looks at variable pronunciation sites of focused phrases in Romanian, which can be pronounced in situ or at the left periphery. She argues against an LF raising analysis of the in situ focused phrases and instead proposes that a focus feature is checked in situ and that the left-dislocation of the focus phrase takes place to satisfy an EPP/OCC feature. She then proposes that only an optionally present EPP/OCC feature can have semantic import. When EPP/OCC is obligatory (such as subject raising to SpecTP in English), no semantic import is entailed.


Arthur Bell’s paper on negation in Afrikaans proposes that, in some cases, the head of NegP has an uninterpretable feature when it is null and an interpretable feature when phonologically overt. The uninterpretable feature, [uNeg], triggers movement. Bell proposes a split NegP, the higher of which behaves as described above. The lower NegP attracts the vP to its specifier. Bell also discusses scope facts with negation and the lower NegP.


Chris Collins proposes an agreement parameter that determines whether overt movement takes place to check an uninterpretable feature. This parameter captures the difference between Bantu and English. English does not require overt displacement of an XP that checks an uninterpretable feature, which gives rise to there-constructions and locative inversion. Bantu, by contrast, does require overt displacement, which accounts for the lack of these constructions. Collins then examines the consequences of this parameter on internal DP structure and case theory, where he concludes that the Spec-Head configuration is not a checking relation. Checking takes place only under c-command.


Norbert Corver looks at a variety of constructions in various Dutch and Frisian dialects that appear with the morpheme /-e/ (schwa). He argues that this morpheme is the head of a small clause that triggers predicate fronting. As such, it is similar to Dutch een (‘one’) in similar constructions.


Roland Hinterhölzl examines scrambling and optional movement in German. He proposes that the optionality of movement is not a property of the syntax, but rather a property of PF (but see Alboiu’s contribution above). Scrambling movement, he argues, is obligatory; the optionality lies in which copy of the moved element PF chooses to pronounce. PF, then, consists of principles, such as ‘A scopal element is interpreted in its scope position’, that may or may not be active in a given dialect. He also suggests that all scopal movement is overt A-movement to check scopal features. Thus, a wide-scope element must c-command a narrow-scope element.


Ruriko Kawashima and Hisatsugu Kitahara discuss the visibility of phonological content to syntax. They propose that an XP can act as an intervener between a probe and a goal only if that XP has phonological content. They also propose that scrambling is Match-driven movement, while A-movement is Agree-driven movement. They discuss scrambling in Japanese and the inability of null arguments to undergo scrambling and sketch out an analysis on these two proposals. For them, scrambling is available in languages that have both Agree- and Match-driven movement.


Mariana Lambova’s contribution adds to the growing debate on the status of head movement by presenting evidence from Bulgarian. She dismisses earlier long head-movement approaches to the phenomenon and argues that local head movement and scattered deletion account for a wider range of facts in Bulgarian. Thus, for Lambova, word order arises by movement, triggered in the syntax, and PF interface considerations, which select which copies to pronounce.


In Anikó Lipták’s paper, new data on subordinated wh-scope marking is presented. Lipták argues that these constructions are interpreted as matrix wh-questions, but have the syntax of embedded clauses. The question addressed here, then, is what triggers movement of the wh-phrase to an intermediate position, rather than to the matrix CP. Lipták argues that these constructions are better understood as involving standard wh-movement.


Eric Mathieu considers hyperbaton in Classical Greek. He argues that such structures actually consist of two DPs in apposition in which one DP can raise while the other remains in situ. The author proposes that a feature such as [wh] or [focus] resides in the head of some functional projection in the left periphery and has an EPP feature, thus triggering raising of one or both DPs. Mathieu speculates that since movement of both DPs is obligatory in some situations, the syntax allows it to take place vacuously in case of a ‘worst case scenario’.


László Molnárfi also addresses this issue of scrambling in German, but takes a radically different approach, suggesting that the base word order is not the most discourse-neutral word order. To this end, Molnárfi argues for antifocus positions as an option in natural language, which act as a prosodic trigger, driving nonfocused elements to the left periphery. Presenting morphological evidence from Afrikaans, Molnárfi argues that the base position of arguments is reserved for focused elements.


Assuming dynamic antisymmetry, Andrea Moro discusses various consequences of the theory of displacement in which linear compression (symmetric c-command) serves as a trigger for movement. One such consequence that he discusses at length is the presence of mirror word orders in English and Italian, such as The picture on the wall was the cause of the riot versus The cause of the riot was the picture on the wall.


Fumikazu Niinuma and Myung-Kwan Park discuss subject-aux inversion in English comparatives, arguing that the head movement needed to derive such constructions is best analyzed as PF movement. Their evidence for placing head movement in these constructions is the interaction between inversion in comparatives and stress assignment and the fact that more than one auxiliary can move (in contrast to inversion in question formation, where only the highest auxiliary moves). The trigger for PF head raising in here is to allow the subject to receive unmarked sentence stress.


Milan Rezac investigates the EPP and how it is manifested in Breton. He proposes that the preverbal position in Breton checks an unvalued categorial feature in T0. Thus, the category of the element that appears in the specifier of TP corresponds to an overt morpheme that Rezac argues appears in T0. In arguing his case, Rezac develops an analysis of the clausal architecture of Breton and builds a case against more traditional explanations of EPP effects in Breton.


Yiddish: A linguistic introduction.

Yiddish: A linguistic introduction. By Neil G. Jacobs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Pp. xix, 327. ISBN 052177215X. $96 (Hb).

Reviewed by Mark J. Elson, University of Virginia

The publisher’s description of this book as a broad yet comprehensive introduction that provides an authoritative overview of all aspects of Yiddish language and linguistics (i) is accurate. There are seven chapters: ‘Introduction’ (1–8), ‘History’ (9–56), ‘Dialectology’ (57–89), ‘Phonology’ (90–153), ‘Morphology’ (154–222), ‘Syntax’ (223–63), and ‘Sociolinguistics’ (264–306). The book concludes with a reference list (307–23) and an index (324–27). Jacobs describes his intended audience as general linguists, Germanic linguists, and scholars in Yiddish, Ashkenazic studies, and Jewish studies (1). He notes that there is a need for this book because none of its predecessors has treated the overall structure of Yiddish systematically, with general linguistic issues in mind.

Each chapter provides a detailed outline and discussion of its subject matter with full presentation of the relevant data culled from various sources, and includes, in addition, the author’s critical reaction to earlier treatments as well as his own analytic proposals. The chapter on morphology, organized by part of speech, treats derivation as well as inflection. The chapter on history deals primarily with phonology, but also includes commentary on script, orthography, and periodization. It should be noted that the presentations of synchronic structure are not entirely uniform in their theoretical orientation. J does not comment on matters of theory other than to mention that his discussion should be accessible regardless of the reader’s theoretical preference (1). In large part, the eclecticism in approach undoubtedly reflects J’s reliance on a number of existing discussions, which differ in approach, as his sources of data and points of departure. He is correct that, generally, there will be no difficulty for the reader with the concepts of phoneme, morpheme, and constituent, defined in the traditional sense that is adequate throughout most of the discussion. In the presentation of syllabic structure, stress, and intonation (121–53), however, he turns to metrical phonology, and also assumes familiarity with cyclic and lexical phonology. The exposition of syntax relies on an older, pre-government-and-binding generative framework in which transformations play a part.

This book is an introduction only in the sense that it does not focus on any single aspect of its subject matter, but offers discussion of all aspects, including dialectological and sociological. It is not an introduction in the sense of a simplified overview. It is a scholarly and detailed survey that will be of use to researchers and advanced students. J’s knowledge of his subject matter is comprehensive and the discussion is thorough. The book therefore offers a large amount of essential information, making it ideal as a point of entry for anyone wishing familiarity with the facts of Yiddish or previous treatments of them. Of particular use to morphologists are the several reference lists relevant to the discussion of derivational morphology (e.g. the list of verb stem-types, 207–12). Equally useful in this area is the discussion of nominal and adjectival compounds. For those whose interest goes beyond the structure of Yiddish to other Germanic and Slavic languages as they relate to, and have been involved in, the history of Yiddish, this book will be an invaluable source. It is certain to take its place as a reference of the first order in Yiddish studies.