Monthly Archives: February 2010

The nature and conditions of pragmatic and discourse transfer investigated through naturalized role-play

The nature and conditions of pragmatic and discourse transfer investigated through naturalized role-play. By Giao Quynh Tran. (Linguistics edition 55.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2006. Pp. 332. ISBN 3895869988. $106.31.

Reviewed by Manuel Padilla Cruz, University of Seville

This volume is a cross-cultural study of pragmatic and discourse transfer of compliment responses in Vietnamese advanced learners of English as an L2 when interacting with Australian English native speakers. It falls squarely within a sound and fruitful tradition of cross-cultural and interlanguage pragmatics studies. Tran is motivated by the obvious impact of the nonnative speaker’s L1 and culture on their L2 production, and hence analyzes their performance in the L2 and the consequences of pragmatic and discourse transfer for cross-cultural communication.

The volume has eleven chapters. The first chapter is introductory and presents the aims of the research, the significance of its topics, and the structure of the book. The rest of the chapters can be divided into two parts. Chs. 2–6 comprise a theoretical part, while Chs. 7–11 comprise the empirical research carried out and its conclusions.

Ch. 2 describes and explains the key concepts that allow readers to understand pragmatic and discourse transfer: pragmatics, discourse, interlanguage, transfer, cross-cultural interaction, and interlanguage pragmatics. Ch. 3 is exclusively dedicated to pragmatic and discourse transfer, so it offers a complete review of previous research into this area. In close connection with it, In Ch. 4, T extensively discusses research into compliment responses, explains the reasons behind the choice of this communicative act for the analysis of pragmatic and discourse transfer, reviews contradictory findings about pragmatic and discourse transfer in this act, and suggests possible solutions to that research. In Ch. 5, T addresses again the notion of pragmatic and discourse transfer, reviews it, and offers a new and complete definition of the term. Finally, Ch. 6 critically discusses issues related to methodology in cross-cultural and interlanguage pragmatics research.

Ch. 7 presents the research questions of the study and expands on the reasons for examining them. Ch. 8 explains the procedures for data collection and data analysis and describes naturalized role-play, the procedure employed to obtain data. It also explores the conditions of pragmatic and discourse transfer through data from background questionnaires, retrospective interviews, closed and open role-plays, and field notes of natural data. Ch. 9 presents the research findings. These findings reveal the usage of different strategies by Vietnamese advanced learners of English as an L2 to respond to compliments, indicate what is transferred, show patterns and conditions of pragmatic and discourse transfer, and confirm the effectiveness of the naturalized role-play in cross-cultural and interlanguage pragmatics research. Ch. 10 focuses on the nature and conditions of pragmatic and discourse transfer in compliment responses, and the role of awareness in pragmatic and discourse transfer, and offers some pedagogical implications for L2 learners, teachers, and speakers of different languages in cross-cultural interaction. It also stresses the contributions and practicality of the naturalized role-play, and reflects on the limitations of the study carried out. Finally, Ch. 11 offers the general conclusions of the study, some suggestions for further research, and some remarks on related issues.

Variational pragmatics

Variational pragmatics: A focus on regional varieties in pluricentric languages. Ed. by Klaus P. Schneider and Anne Barron. (Pragmatics and beyond new series 178.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008. Pp. 371. ISBN 9789027254221. $158 (Hb).

Reviewed by Manuel Padilla Cruz, University of Seville

Variational pragmatics, a recent field of pragmatics explicitly and officially established at the 9th International Pragmatics Conference held in Riva del Garda (Italy), investigates, according to Schneider and Barron, pragmatic variation taking into account social and geographical factors. It aims to analyze the impact of variables such as region, social class, gender, age, and ethnicity on how individuals use (a) language, and is a reaction to traditional dialectology, which has mainly centered on the study of pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, thus ignoring to a great extent linguistic action and interactive behavior.

The volume gathers together ten empirical papers by thirteen leading researchers, accompanied by an introductory chapter by the editors, ‘Where pragmatics and dialectology meet; Introducing variational pragmatics’, where they delineate the field, establish its relationship with dialectology and explain the levels of pragmatic analysis that variational pragmatics seeks to explore. The papers are based on naturally occurring discourse obtained from already existing electronic corpora or recordings made by the authors and on experimental data collected by production questionnaires, role plays, discourse-completion task (DCT), and open discourse-completion task.

The book is organized into three parts—‘English’, ‘Dutch and German’, and ‘Spanish and French’—which contain papers examining pragmatic phenomena in those languages and some of their varieties. Seven papers address individual speech acts, such as requests, apologies, invitations, and thanking, stressing the action level of the varieties of different languages explored. These are ‘The structure of requests in Irish English and English English’ by Anne Barron, ‘The pragmatics of a pluricentric language: A comparison between Austrian German and German German’ by Rudolf Muhr, ‘Requesting in German as a pluricentric language’ by Muriel Warga, ‘Requests in corner shop transactions in Ecuadorian Andean and Coastal Spanish’ by María Elena Placencia, ‘Apologizing in French French and Canadian French’ by Ursula Schölmeberger, ‘Different realizations of solidarity politeness: Comparing Venezuelan and Argentinean invitations’ by Carmen García, and ‘Gratitude in Bristish and New Zealand radio programmes: Nothing but gushing?’ by Sabine Jautz.

Two papers analyze formal aspects of specific varieties: ‘Response tokens in Bristish and Irish discourse: Corpus, context and variational pragmatics’ by Anne O’Keefee and Svenja Adolphs, where the authors examine response tokens such as ‘yeah’, ‘oh my God’ or ‘absolutely’, and ‘The distribution of T/V pronouns in Netherlandic and Belgian Dutch’ by Koen Plevoets, Dirk Speelman, and Dirk Geeraerts, where the authors discuss the distribution of the T/V pronominal forms in those varieties of Dutch. Finally, ‘Small talk in England, Ireland, and the USA’ by Klaus P. Schneider adopts an interactive perspective to analyse topic selection and sequencing in small talk.
Apart from shedding light on the pragmatic phenomena analyzed, the papers contained in this volume also offer valuable suggestions for further research and raise additional questions that will awaken the reader’s interest in this new field of pragmatics. Certainly, scholars and students in pragmatics, dialectology, and sociolinguistics will welcome this collection of most interesting and illuminating papers on linguistic variation, for they approach this issue taking into account pragmatic differences between varieties of languages and adopting a multi-level perspective.

Explorations in the semantics/pragmatics interface

Explorations in the semantics/pragmatics interface. Ed. by Maj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen and Ken Turner. (Special issue of Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 38.) Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel, 2006. Pp. 268. ISSN 03740463.

Reviewed by Manuel Padilla Cruz, University of Seville

This special issue of the journal Acta Linguistica Hafniensia gathers ten interesting papers on a topic that has received much attention over the last decades, the semantics/pragmatics interface. In the introduction, Maj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen and Ken Turner deal with the salient positions concerning the semantics/pragmatics interface. The papers that follow can be grouped into two sub-sets, depending on whether they are synchronically or diachronically oriented.

In ‘Semantic and pragmatic contributions to information status’, Betty J. Birner reviews a taxonomy of the possible information statuses of individual clause constituents and shows that inferables from bridging inferences must be described in terms of ‘hearer-new/discourse-old’ so as to satisfactorily account for their syntactic distribution. In ‘Salience and anaphoric definite noun phrases’, Klaus von Heusinger contends, from a dynamic discourse semantics standpoint, that anaphoric relations in discourse can be explained on the basis of the salience of discourse referents, so anaphoric pronouns can refer only to the referent that becomes most salient.

‘The unitary procedural semantics of the, this and that’ is a relevance-theoretic account of these three definite determiners in which Alex Klinge suggests that their root morpheme th- procedurally encodes an act of textual ostention. In turn, ‘Semantic, pragmatic, and lexical aspect of the measure phrase + adjective construction’ is a reflection made by M. Lynne Murphy from a construction-grammar standpoint on the possibility of combining measure phrases with adjectives; the author argues that different combinations have achieved different degrees of lexicalization but are semantically and pragmatically similar, and that this permits generalizations.

In ‘Probability logic and conversation’ Ken Turner, rejecting the Gricean approach, contends that indicative conditionals do not express material implications and do not have truth conditions at all, so their meaning is better explained within the framework of probability logic. In ‘The semantics of polyphony (and the pragmatics of realization)’, Henning Nølke presents the so-called Scandinavian theory of linguistic polyphony, an independent module in a larger theory of linguistic meaning and utterance interpretation, according to which sentences have a polyphonic structure, which roughly corresponds to their semantic level, and a polyphonic configuration that constitutes the polyphonic interpretation of utterances of those sentences and, hence, corresponds to their pragmatics.

Corinne Rossari shows in ‘The grammaticalization process and the phenomenon of persistence at work in two hybrid discourse markers: la preuve and regarde’ that the original meanings of discourse markers still constrain their grammaticalized uses. In turn, in ‘From pragmatics to semantics: esto es in formulaic expressions’ Salvador Pons Bordería explains the evolution of this reformulation marker.

Jacqueline Visconti argues in ‘The role of lexical semantics in semantic change’ that the source meaning of items undergoing semantic change imposes serious constraints on the result of such change. Finally, in ‘GCI theory and language change’ Maj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen and Richard Waltereit examine the processes whereby initially pragmatic inferences may become conventionalized as the coded semantic content of some linguistic items.

The social art

The social art: Language and its uses. 2nd edn. By Ronald Macaulay. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. 256. ISBN 9780195187960. $24.99.

Reviewed by Charlotte Brammer, Samford University

In The social art: Language and its uses, Ronald Macaulay updates his classic introduction to linguistics, adding two new chapters that address some of the main theories in language development and language evolution. Also new to this edition is an appendix, appropriately titled ‘A note on Saussure, Bloomfield, and Chomsky’. In the introduction to this edition, M states that these additions ‘are intended to show how there is considerable controversy about certain claims that have been developed through a complex process of reasoning rather than being based on generally accepted objective evidence’ (ix). Working from descriptive and pragmatic perspectives, M critiques Noam Chomsky’s theories because ‘Chomsky vehemently rejects the notion that communication is central to the notion of language’ (55). Communication is never far removed from M’s discussion of the various aspects of the study of language.

M wrote this text for those who are new to the field of linguistics, and it may be particularly well suited for those in teacher education programs. The text has thirty-five chapters, averaging five pages each. Its brevity, however, does not indicate paucity of information. Chapter topics progress from language acquisition to syntax (three chapters) to semantics to pragmatics, before addressing the evolution of language, the history of English, and more recent topics in sociolinguistics. Each chapter provides key definitions and concepts about the particular topic as well as animated and often humorous examples. In Ch. 13, ‘Regional dialects’, M uses Peter Trudgill’s work from the Potteries area of England to demonstrate shifts in vowel sounds from one region to another. He then provides a brief anecdote of his own: ‘I once bought a freezer from someone who had grown up in New Jersey. He warned me that here was a plastic pen in it that sometimes rattled. Knowing that he had young children who were quite lively, the presence of a plastic pen did not seem surprising to me. It was years later that I realized that he had been talking about a plastic pan’ (65). Such pointed yet light-hearted prose makes seemingly complex concepts quite accessible for anyone new to the field.

In keeping with the goal of introducing the study of language, M includes an extensive glossary and list of references. The glossary offers clear definitions of linguistic terms, often incorporating examples to reinforce meaning, and the list of references offers a valuable starting point for more in depth research on the topics covered in the text. Communication is not just the center of M’s notion of language; it is also the rhetorical emphasis of this text.

Languages and cultures in contrast and comparison

Languages and cultures in contrast and comparison. Ed. by María de los Ángeles Gómez González, J. Lachlan Mackenzie, and Elsa M. González Álvarez. (Pragmatics and beyond new series 175.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008. Pp. 364. ISBN 9789027254191. $158 (Hb).

Reviewed by Manuel Padilla Cruz, University of Seville

This volume gathers twelve papers that explore relationships between different languages and the contexts where they are used with a wide array of methodologies. It is organized into three parts, each containing four chapters: ‘Information structure’, ‘Lexis in contrast’, and ‘Contrastive perspectives on SLA’,

‘Themes zones in contrast: An analysis of their linguistic realization in the communicative act of non-acceptance’, by Anita Fetzer, opens Part 1. Using German and British data taken from politicians’ reactions to electoral defeat, the author contrasts nonacceptances in British English and German, focusing on how Theme is related to its textual function and integrates clausal grammar. ‘Last things first: A FDG approach to clause-final focus constituents in Spanish and English’, by Mike Hannay and Elena Martínez Caro, examines Rheme in English and Spanish and discusses whether clause-final constituents in both languages allow for special focus positions. In ‘Contrastive perspectives on cleft sentences’, Jeanette Gundel analyses the distribution and frequency of those constructions in Norwegian and Spanish translations of Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone, revealing that their frequency differs across languages. Then, Ilse Magnus considers the placement of circumstantial adjuncts in Dutch and French in ‘The position of adverbials and the pragmatic organization of the sentence: A comparison of French and Dutch’, showing that some sentence constituents can be focusable.

Part 2 addresses lexical matters. ‘Swedish verbs of perception from a typological and contrastive perspective’, by Ǻke Viberg, analyses these verbs and their patterns of polysemy. In ‘ “Abroad” and semantically related terms in some European languages and in Akan (Ghana)’, Thorstein Fretheim and Nana Aba Appiah Amfo discuss the concepts ‘abroad’ and ‘home’ and their respective semantic fields, arguing that their corresponding expressions in Norwegian and Akan have different denotations. ‘The expression of emotion in Italian and English fairy tales’, by Gabrina Pound, reflects on the similarities and differences in the ways in which emotion is expressed in those languages and cultures, revealing that fairy tales in those languages emphasize various concerns. Finally, Felix Rodríguez González explores some lexical features of effeminate English and Spanish gay men in order to contrast their usage, connotations, and semantic evolution in ‘The feminine stereotype in gay characterization: A look at English and Spanish’.

Part 3 is devoted to contributions of contrastive linguistics and pragmatics to S/FL teaching. ‘Communicative tasks across languages: Movie narratives in English, in English as a foreign language and in German’, by Andreas H. Jucker, is a contrastive analysis of the different ways in which those speakers sequence narrative elements, introduce characters, and report acts of thought and speech. In ‘Linguistic theory and bilingual systems: Simultaneous and sequential English/Spanish bilingualism’, Raquel Fernández Fuentes, Juana M. Liceras, and Esther Álvarez de la Fuente explore bilingual twins’ lexico-grammatical patterns when learning their first languages. Edward D. Benson and Pilar García Mayo reflect on the possibility of raising students’ awareness of the rules of orthography in ‘Awareness of orthographic form and morphophonemic learning in EFL’. Finally, Francisco Gutiérrez Díez examines Spanish learners’ of English errors at the suprasegmental level in ‘Contrastive intonation and error analysis: Tonality and tonicity in the interlanguage of a group of Spanish learners of English’.

Practitioners, scholars, and students in different fields of linguistics will find in this volume valuable and revealing approaches to a wide array of issues that will certainly contribute to a better understanding of linguistic diversity across cultures. Its contents will also suggest new directions for future research and contribute to an enhancement of teaching methodologies.

Drawing the boundaries of meaning

Drawing the boundaries of meaning: Neo-Gricean studies in pragmatics and semantics in honor of Laurence R. Horn. Ed. by Betty J. Birner and Gregory Ward. (Studies in language companion series 80.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2006. Pp. 350. ISBN 9027230900. $188 (Hb).

Reviewed by Manuel Padilla Cruz, University of Seville

This volume gathers eighteen interesting papers by twenty-two leading researchers to honor scholar Laurence R. Horn. It starts with an introduction in which the editors summarize the prolific and influential work by this linguist, mainly devoted to delineating the boundary between semantics and pragmatics.

In the first contribution, ‘Where have some of the presuppositions gone?’, Barbara Abbott clarifies the distinction between presuppositions and implicatures, and why some presupposition triggers get their presuppositions neutralized. In ‘The top 10 misconceptions about implicature’, Kent Bach reflects on frequent misconceptions about implicatures. In ‘Inferential relations and noncanonical word order’, Betty J. Birner argues that inferable information in noncanonical constructions can be better explained if ‘discourse-old’ information is seen as inferentially connected to previous context.

In the fourth paper, ‘Sherlock Holmes was in no danger’, Greg Carlson and Gianluca Storto discuss the semantics and pragmatics of context-sensitive lexical items with a variable that is assigned a value in a specific context by pragmatic processes. In ‘Free choice in Romanian’, Donka F. Farkas analyses the uses of the Romanian determiner any from an indefinitist standpoint. In ‘Polarity, questions, and the scalar properties of even’, Anastasia Giannakidou explores the behavior of three Greek expressions that seem to be the equivalents of ‘even’.

In the seventh paper, ‘Discourse particles and the symbiosis of natural language processing and basic research’, Georgia M. Green discusses some attitudinal discourse markers whose apparently meaningless occurrence unveils the speaker’s feelings. Next, Michael Israel accounts for how speakers use attenuation and understatement to reduce the content of what they say in ‘Saying less and meaning less’. In ‘I can’t seem to figure this out’, Pauline Jacobson reflects on the scope of the constituents of the can’t seem to construction.

In the tenth contribution, ‘Referring expressions and conversational implicatures’, Andrew Kehler and Gregory Ward argue that there must be ‘nonfamiliarity implicatures’ that implicate that the referents of some expressions are nonfamiliar to the hearer. Then, Steven R. Kleinedler and Randall Eggert deal with the semantics and pragmatics of personal pronouns and their lexicographical challenges in ‘Indexi-lexicography’, contending that recourse to pragmatics is necessary for their definitions. In ‘Why defining is seldom “just semantics”: Marriage and marriage’, Sally McConnell-Ginet centers on the function of some instrumental definitions for developing concepts, understanding, and social life.

In the thirteenth paper, ‘Negation and modularity’, Frederick J. Newmeyer supports a modular account of English negation. In ‘A note on Mandarin possessives, demonstratives, and definiteness’, Barbara H. Partee analyses some problems posed by Mandarin possessives, numerals, and demonstratives in combinations related to definiteness and partitivity. In ‘On a homework problem of Larry Horn’s’, Francis J. Pelletier and Andrew Hartline discuss a solution to the problem of the meaning of ‘or’ proposed by Larry Horn.

In the sixteenth contribution, ‘Impersonal pronouns in French and Yiddish’, Ellen F. Prince examines the impersonal subject pronoun ‘one’ in these languages in terms of its truth-conditional meaning and discourse anaphora possibilities. In ‘Motors and switches: An exercise in syntax and pragmatics’, Jerrold M. Sadock defends the validity of the Gricean approach developed by Larry Horn to account for some natural language connectives. Finally, in ‘Fine-tuning Jespersen’s Cycle’, Scott A. Schwenter provides additional evidence to prove that Jespersen’s cycle regarding negation markers needs some adjustments.

What makes grammaticalization

What makes grammaticalization: A look from its fringes and its components. Ed. by Walter Bisang, Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, and Björn Wiemer. (Trends in linguistics 158.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2004. Pp. vi, 354. ISBN 3110181525. $137 (Hb).

Reviewed by Debra Ziegeler, IPrA Research Center, Antwerp

What makes grammaticalization is a comprehensive volume comprising eleven chapters of new works put together following a workshop organized by one of the editors, Björn Wiemer, with the title ‘Grammatikalisierung vs. Lexikalisierung’, 1–3 February 2001 in Constance, Germany. The aims of the workshop were to address two main questions: first, the distinctions between grammaticalization and lexicalization, and second, whether it is possible to include under a broader description of grammaticalization the areas less likely to conform to the strict parameters first established by Lehmann, such as the grammaticalization of grammatical material not generally associated with morphological analysis (Christian Lehmann, Thoughts on grammaticalization , LINCOM Europa, 1995). Nearly half of the chapters are at least partially devoted to research in Slavic languages.

The book is composed of four parts: ‘General issues’, ‘On building grammar from below and from above: Between phonology and pragmatics’, ‘Grammatical derivation’, and ‘The role of lexical semantics and of constructions’. There are a subject index, an author index, and a language index. In Part 1, Björn Wiemer and Walter Bisang, offer an overview of the current research on grammaticalization and an introduction to the range of topics offered in the chapters that follow. ‘Lexicalization and grammaticalization’, by Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, addresses the problems associated with the element-based approach to grammaticalization and the necessity for studying grammaticalizing elements within their syntagmatic environments. With regard to the distinctions between lexicalization and grammaticalization, Himmelmann emphasizes that lexical generality is the most important distinguishing feature of the two processes.

In Part 2, Livio Gaeta’s chapter, ‘Exploring grammaticalization from below’, focuses on morphological elements in grammaticalization as a counter motivation for degrammaticalization, in that the functional and semantic efficiency of morphemes over lexemes creates the unidirectionality of grammaticalization processes. Susanne Günthner and Katrin Mutz discuss the development of pragmatic markers from subordinators in German and Italian in independent subordinate clauses occurring in spoken discourse, suggesting the adoption of the term ‘pragmaticalization’, as a subcategory of grammaticalization. Bisang’s chapter on ‘Grammaticalization without coevolution of form and meaning’ discusses tense, aspect, and modality in mainland Southeast Asian languages, addressing, among other questions, the suggestion of a past tense emerging in Mandarin Chinese. He concludes that there is insufficient evidence in such languages for the precise form-meaning relationships found in Indo-European languages, and that their overall pragmatic polyfunctionality precludes a strictly temporal reference function for the Chinese perfective marker. Daniel Weiss’s chapter on the rise of the indefinite article in Macedonian provides evidence that the specification of the noun phrase by attributives or relative clauses is a stronger determining factor of grammaticalization than simply referential status alone.

In Part 3, Volkmar Lehmann, in ‘Grammaticalization via extending derivation’, looks at Russian aspectual categories and offers a broader notion of grammaticalization in which the nature of Slavic aspect is seen as derivational, not inflectional. Katharina Böttger, in a corpus study covering seventeenth-century texts, also studies Russian aspectual morphology and concurs with Lehmann that the expression of aspect in verb stems with affixes characterizes a grammaticalization that does not involve any accompanying formal changes.

In Part 4, Ekkehard König and Letizia Vezzosi discuss the grammaticalization of reflexivity, arguing that the interpretation of predicates as other-directed vs. non-other-directed, the feature of contrast where the former type is concerned, and the environment of third-person singular subjects will together provide the optimum historical conditions for the onset of grammaticalization of reflexive markers in English and other languages. Björn Hansen’s chapter discusses modality in Slavic languages using semantic maps and suggests that this category is less grammaticalized than either tense or mood, but does reflect the framework of grammaticalization proposed by Lehmann (1995). Wiemer’s chapter, the longest and final chapter in the book, discusses the evolution of passives as grammatical constructions in Northern Slavic and Baltic languages, using a basic role and reference grammar analysis, and arrives at the conclusion that since passives are not an obligatory category and do not alter the lexical meaning of the active counterpart predicate, they constitute a special case of grammaticalization of a construction, rather than a morphological category.

In all, the collection presents some interesting questions and challenges for the development of grammaticalization theory generally, providing a great deal of impetus for similar future research endeavors in the field. If one criticism should be raised, it would only be in presentational aspects, where for some of the chapters more thorough proofreading might have been possible, and perhaps the inclusion of interlinear glosses for readers not familiar with the languages under discussion.

Meaning: The dynamic turn

Meaning: The dynamic turn. Ed. by Jaroslav Peregrin. (Current research in the semantics/pragmatics interface 12.) Oxford: Elsevier, 2003. Pp. x, 277. ISBN 0080441874. $116.95 (Hb).

Reviewed by Chaoqun Xie, Fujian Normal University

The meaning of meaning has been and still is a central concern for scholars of various persuasions, including those in philosophy, semantics, and pragmatics. Recently, more and more effort has been devoted to exploring the dynamics of meaning. Is meaning dynamic? If yes, how is dynamic meaning possible? Many scholars have reached the consensus that meaning is and should be dynamic, especially when it is discussed in certain social-interaction contexts, which certainly involve various complex factors. Meaning: The dynamic turn, however, largely focuses on another question: Why is meaning dynamic? This book adopts a very formal approach to a very dynamic topic.

This volume, which developed out of papers presented to a workshop held in Prague in September 2001, consists of a general introduction followed by three parts. In the introduction, editor Jaroslav Peregrin provides some background information and briefs the chapters to follow. Part 1 is devoted to foundational issues of dynamic semantics. In ‘Structural properties of dynamic reasoning’, Johan van Benthem argues for dynamic inference in communication by means of a concrete representation theorem. In ‘Construction by description in discourse representation’, Noor van Leusen and Reinhard Muskens deal with the question of declarativity versus procedurality in dynamic theories and present a view on linguistic processing. Richard Breheny’s contribution, ‘On the dynamic turn in the study of meaning and interpretation’, merits particular attention. Breheny discusses three points: (i) dynamic and nondynamic processes are distinguished by a focus on process, (ii) the empirical issue of underdetermination and compositionality is not adequately tackled by current dynamic approaches, and (iii) the current dynamic paradigm cannot solve the underdetermination of context adequately and properly. The first part ends with Wolfram Hinzen’s elaboration of what ‘Real dynamics’ really means.

The four chapters in Part 2, ‘Syntax, semantics and discourse’, focus on dynamic approaches in various areas of the theory of language. While Ruth Kempson, Wilfried Meyer-Viol, and Masayuki Otsuka deal with the dynamics of syntax, Klaus von Heusinger talks about ‘The double dynamics of description in discourse representation’. Petr Sgall’s chapter is devoted to dynamics within the sentence and dynamics in discourse. Timothy Childers and Vladimír Svoboda argue that the meaning of a prescriptive sentence is hard to tell ‘unless we understand how it works in various normative language games’ (198). In ‘Imperative negation and dynamic semantics’, Berislav Žarnić defends the view that ‘an imperative and its negation are equipotent with respect to their binding force and layers of informational content’ (201).

Part 3, Semantic games’, includes three chapters: ‘Dynamic game semantics’ by Tapio Janasik and Gabriel Sandu, ‘About games and substitution’ by Manuel Rebuschi, and ‘In defense of (some) verificationism: Verificationism and game-theoretical semantics’ by Louise Vigean.

This collection of papers represents the state of the art in the ongoing discussion of dynamic semantics, casting some new light upon the nature of meaning. Written by a team of experts, this volume is of high-quality, with arguments that are largely convincing, and it should be most welcomed by those with a keen interest in logic, formal semantics, or formal pragmatics. I have one reservation, though. When I first read the title of this book, I was full of expectations, looking forward to knowing more about the whats, hows, and whys of the dynamic turn of meaning in real-life social interaction. I was a bit disappointed, however, upon reading it; I am not sure how dynamic meaning can be realized or how far the catchphrase ‘dynamic meaning’ can go if it resorts to formalization procedures, and if it still holds on to the somewhat rigid and prescriptive Chomskyan paradigm, disregarding ‘the view that linguistic meanings are externally fixed by language-world relations, language use, or by beliefs attached to utterances, jointly with a level of representation’ (117). Although there is, given the computational nature of mind as advocated by scholars of artificial intelligence, some element of truth in saying ‘linguistic meaning derives solely from the internal and naturally necessary workings of the mind’ (177), the more immediate and important question is: What is taken into account when the mind is doing computations and working out linguistic meaning? ‘Real dynamics’ worked out within the tradition of generative grammar cannot be real at all. Finally, I am not sure if the question of why meaning is dynamic has been adequately answered in this volume.

The acquisition of syntax in Romance languages

The acquisition of syntax in Romance languages. Ed. by Vincent Torrens and Linda Escobar. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2006. Pp. 421. ISBN 9789027253019. $150 (Hb).

Reviewed by Lara Reglero, Florida State University

This book is a collection of selected papers presented at ‘The Romance Turn’, a workshop on first and second language acquisition held in Madrid in 2004. The book is divided into five parts: Part 1, ‘Clitics, determiners and pronouns’; Part 2, ‘Verbs, auxiliaries and inflection’; Part 3, ‘Movement and resumptive pronouns’; Part 4, ‘Syntax/discourse interface’; and Part 5, ‘L2 acquisition’. All of the papers adopt a generative approach to the study of language acquisition.

Part 1 opens with ‘The production of SE and SELF anaphors in Spanish and Dutch children’ by Sergio Baauw, Marieke Kuipers, Esther Ruigendijk, and Fernando Cuetos, who show that Spanish children perform like adults on se anaphors but have difficulty with self anaphors, in contrast to Dutch children, who exhibit exactly the opposite behavior. In ‘On the acquisition of ambiguous valency-marking morphemes: Insights from the acquisition of French SE’, Isabelle Barrière and Marjorie Perlman Lorch propose a modified version of the maturation hypothesis to explain the order of acquisition of French se and related constructions. Anna Gavarró, Ana Teresa Pérez-Leroux, and Thomas Roeper’s ‘Definite and bare noun contrasts in child Catalan’ examines the acquisition of definites and bare nouns in child Catalan from a semantic perspective. In ‘Null arguments in monolingual children: A comparison of Italian and French’, Natasha Müller, Katrin Shmitz, Katja Cantone, and Tanja Kupisch account for the differences in the acquisition of object clitics in child French and Italian by proposing different licensing strategies for each language. Maren Pannemann explores crosslinguistic interaction in the bilingual acquisition of determiners and adjectives in ‘Prenominal elements in French-Germanic bilingual first language acquisition: Evidence for cross-linguistic influence’.

In Part 2, Claudia Caprin and Maria Teresa Guasti’s ‘A cross-sectional study on the use of “be” in early Italian’ analyzes the different omission rates of copula and auxiliary ‘be’ in child Italian. In ‘Patterns of copula omission in Italian child language’, Elisa Franchi investigates the omission rates of the Italian copula in declarative contexts and their absence in wh-contexts. In ‘Looking for the universal core of the RI stage’, Manola Salustri and Nina Hyams propose that the imperative is the equivalent of the RI stage in null subject languages. Vincent Torrens, Linda Escobar, and Kenneth Wexler’s ‘The acquisition of experiencers in Spanish L1 and the external argument requirement hypothesis’ explores the difficulties Spanish-speaking children exhibit with the acquisition of psych verbs that do not project a subject as their external argument. Jacqueline van Kampen studies how tense/agreement omission and root peripheral truncation relate in ‘Early operators and late topic-drop/pro-drop’.

Elaine Grolla’s‘The acquisition of A- and A′-bound pronouns in Brazilian Portuguese’ opens Part 3 by providing a unified analysis for the acquisition of pronominal elements in Brazilian Portuguese. In ‘Acquiring long-distance wh-questions in L1 Spanish: A longitudinal investigation’, María Junkal Guiérrez Mangado accounts for the nonadult constructions produced by a Spanish-speaking child while acquiring long-distance wh-questions. Magda Oiry and Hamida Demirdache argue in their article, ‘Evidence from L1 acquisition for the syntax of wh-scope marking in French’, that French-speaking children use nonadult scope marking strategies to produce long-distance questions.

In Part 4, João Costa and Kriszta Szendröi’s ‘Acquisition of focus marking in European Portuguese: Evidence for a unified approach to focus’ explores whether children can distinguish between syntactic and prosodic marking of focus in European Portuguese. In ‘Subject pronouns in bilinguals: Interface or maturation?’, Manuela Pinto investigates the acquisition of subject pronouns by two Dutch-Italian bilinguals.

In Part 5, Claudia Borgonovo, Joyce Bruhn de Garavito, and Philippe Prévost’s ‘Is the semantics/syntax interface vulnerable in L2 acquisition? Focus on mood distinctions clauses in L2 Spanish’ shows that interface phenomena can be acquired, at least in the domain of the interpretation of DPs marked by mood in Spanish. In ‘The development of the syntax-discourse interface: Greek learners of Spanish’, Cristóbal Lozano argues that L2 learners’ difficulties with discursive focus are due to a deficit with the uninterpretable [focus] feature. Finally, in ‘Beyond the syntax of the null subject parameter: A look at the discourse-pragmatic distribution of null and overt subjects by L2 learners of Spanish’, Silvina Montrul and Celeste Rodríguez Louro examine how L2 learners acquire the morphosyntactic and discourse-pragmatic aspects of Spanish subjects.

The acquisition of syntax in Romance languages provides an extensive and thorough collection of papers that will be of great interest to researchers working on any syntactic aspect of Romance language acquisition from a generative perspective.

Linguistic variation yearbook 2005

Linguistic variation yearbook 2005. Ed. by Pierre Pica, Johan Rooryck, and Jeroen van Craenenbroeck. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. Pp. 308. ISBN 9789027254757. $114.

Reviewed by Lara Reglero, Florida State University

This book is the fifth edition of the Linguistic variation yearbook. Like its predecessors, the book contains a number of papers addressing issues of linguistic variation within the minimalist framework, addressing a variety of topics ranging from relative clauses, wh-questions, adjacency effects, and harmony patterns, among many others. The focus of the papers is methodological, theoretical, and/or empirical in nature.

The book opens with an ‘Introduction’ (1–3) from the editors in which they summarize the contents of the articles to follow. In ‘Reconstruction in relative clauses and the copy theory of traces’ (5–35), Carlo Cecchetto examines reconstruction effects in relative clauses that contain an unaccusative head. He notes that reconstruction effects are only found in identity sentences, as opposed to subject-predicate sentences. Based on this contrast, he argues that reconstruction effects are not the result of combining the copy theory and a raising analysis of relative clauses. Instead, he argues for a nonraising analysis in which the semantics of identity sentences plays a crucial role.

Gisbert Fanselow, Reinhold Kliegl, and Matthias Schlesewsky’s ‘Syntactic variation in German wh-questions: Empirical investigations of weak crossover violations and long wh-movement’ (37–63) discusses the findings from three experiments on syntactic variation in German wh-questions. In an acceptability rating experiment, the authors investigate weak crossover violations. The results indicate that the variation they found is due to extra-grammatical factors. The second experiment (sentence completion task) targets wh-movement out of finite clauses. In this case, the authors found that the variation could be dialectal. A follow-up training experiment, however, indicates that the variation is also due to nonlinguistic factors.

Anikó Lipták explores the internal structure of temporal adverbial clauses in ‘Relativization strategies in temporal adjunct clauses’ (65–117). She uncovers a new strategy in Hungarian, IP-relativization, which probably also applies in German and Serbian. By comparing Hungarian with Hindi and Basque, the author suggests that IP-relativization is a syntactic alternative to nominalization. In ‘Microvariations in harmony and value-relativized parametrization’ (119–64), Andrew Nevins considers parametric variation in harmony patterns. By examining Yoruba and Modern Manchu dialects, the author proposes that alternating morphemes searching for a harmonic value may have access to all values, only a single-value, or to contrastive values. Adam Szczegielniak’s ‘Two types of resumptive pronouns in polish relative clauses’ (165–85) examines adjacent resumptives and embedded resumptives in Polish relative clauses. The author argues that embedded resumptives are regular resumptive pronouns. In contrast, adjacent resumptives are truncated/cliticicized forms of the relative operator.

In ‘Microparameters for Norwegian wh-grammars’ (187–226), Øystein Alexander Vangsnes proposes three microparameters to account for the lack of V2 effects in matrix wh-questions across different Norwegian dialects. The proposed microparameters rely on whether interrogative C must be lexicalized, and whether a short wh-word or a complemetizer can lexicalize C. Peter Svenonius analyzes the structure of idioms in his article ‘Extending the extension condition to discontinuous idioms’ (227–63). He proposes that Merge can apply to subconstituents even after Merge has already applied to the structure. The resulting structures are called Banyan trees and contain more than one root. Finally, Charles Yang’s ‘On productivity’ (265–302) investigates why grammars contain exceptions. For this, the author studies morphological phenomena and advances a learning model in which productive processes and exceptions are internalized in a different way.

The Linguistic Variation Yearbook 2005 successfully brings together a collection of papers that will be of great interest to researchers working on comparative studies within the generative framework.