Monthly Archives: July 2010

Translation goes to the movies

Translation goes to the movies. By Michael Cronin. London: Routledge, 2009. Pp. xviii, 145. ISBN 9780415422864. $35.95.

Reviewed by Colette van Kerckvoorde, Bard College

Contrary to what the title may lead one to believe, this book is not about translating movies for a foreign audience, a topic that has already received ample attention: Numerous studies dealing with problems that arise with dubbing and subtitling are readily available. Rather, this book investigates the thematization of translation and translators in films—that is, the various ways in which language difference, translations, and translators are represented (or featured) in motion pictures. This area, Cronin indicates, has completely been ignored in the past, even though language difference and the dilemmas of translation often feature prominently in movies. Michael Cronin seeks both to demonstrate that translation issues are at the center of some of the most widely viewed films on the planet and to challenge the myth that cinema in the United States is ‘wholly beholden to an unashamedly and blindly monoglot vision of the world’ (xiii). Additionally, C hopes that this work may inspire readers to examine the cinematographic traditions in a variety of languages other than English. C addresses not only interlingual and intercultural issues but also intralingual and intracultural issues in this book.

The introduction is well written and provides an overview of the general topics to be discussed. Ch. 1 deals with the origins and early development of cinema in Europe and in the United States, addressing the common misnomer that silent films were actually silent. Already during this early stage, C indicates, commenting on films raised a question of language difference. He then focuses on the development of European film, United States hegemony in the film industry, and their relationship with immigration and integration pressures felt in the United States. As the film industry evolved, the question of translation became more complex, giving rise to different answers on both sides of the Atlantic, which resulted in different translation styles. C also mentions the Indian film industry, but his main interest lies in American productions.

In each of the following chapters, the author focuses on a different genre: the Western in Ch. 2, comedy in Ch. 3, drama and thrillers in Ch. 4, and science fiction in Ch. 5. For each genre, C analyzes well-known and widely-available films such as Lost in Translation, Dances with Wolves, The Great Dictator, Borat, and George Lucas’s Star Wars trilogies. C provides detailed analyses of several relevant scenes in these movies, paying attention to the ways in which language otherness is represented and used to support the overall theme of the film. For example, there is a discussion of the way in which Charlie Chaplin, in The Great Dictator, uses a form of pseudo-German to discredit the ambitions of his title character. In discussing Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, C elaborates on several explicit references to the problem of translation that contribute to a general sense of dislocation and failure to achieve a successful understanding of the situation.

C’s style is lively and clear, and his work is suitable for any reader with an interest in film, even if they have no background in film studies or translation studies. This book brings some of the main themes in translation to the foreground, although the author’s interest is more with film analysis than with translation studies.

American English idiomatic expressions in 52 weeks

American English idiomatic expressions in 52 weeks: An easy way to understand English expressions and improve speaking. By John Holleman. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2006. Pp. 500. ISBN 9789629962814. $29.

Reviewed by Omaima M. Ayoub, Richard J. Daley College

This book provides English as a second language (ESL) students a week-by-week calendar to study English idiomatic expressions and improve conversational proficiency. Consisting of 3,243 different English idioms, this book presents an accessible plan that will enable ESL students to systematically understand and use English in a variety of settings such as classroom discussions, business meetings, and casual conversations with native English speakers.

Each week includes sixty to sixty-five idioms divided into functional categories that include: bad/negative, consequence, disagree, end, error, failure, health, importance, money, movement, ownership, personal description, quantity, relationship, satisfaction, similar, superior, time, and work. Each idiom is supported with a concise definition and an example to facilitate usage. In addition to the massive number of idiomatic expressions illustrated in the book, there is also a thorough index for easy reference.

‘Week one’ includes the functional category of achievement, which contains expressions such as at the top of his/her game—defined as ‘performing at the highest level. [With the usage] As one of the top athletes in the city, he is at the top of his game’ (1). Under communication, there are idioms such as all eyes—defined as ‘watching very closely. [With the usage] Horace was all eyes when the beautiful lady walked into the room with her drink’ (2); add fuel to the fire—defined as ‘increasing the tension of a problem situation. [With the usage] When John argued he didn’t believe in punishing the children and he didn’t support his wife, he realized he was adding fuel to the fire’ (2); and actions speak louder than words—defined as ‘a person’s behavior communicates more than words spoken. [With the usage] The father’s care shown to the child demonstrated his actions spoke more than words’ (2).

In ‘Week twenty-five’, the category of agree/approval includes the idiomatic expression live up to—defined as ‘act according to. [With the usage] Peter is trying very hard to live up to his reputation as a smart businessman’ (185). The category of plan/prepare includes inside out—defined as ‘knowing something very well. [With the usage] As an expert in the dynasties of China, William knew the history of the Henan Province inside out’ (190); jam on the brakes—defined as ‘quickly put brakes on to stop car. [With the usage] John jammed on the brakes to avoid an accident on the crowded city street’ (190); and just so—defined as ‘with great care and preparation. [With the usage] Caroline worked on styling her hair so that it looked just so for the evening reception. She looked fabulous!’ (190).

‘Week fifty-one’ includes the category of emotion, which encompasses idiomatic expressions such as walk on air—defined as ‘feel happy and excited. [With the usage] Since Kelly found out she performed well on her examination, she’s been walking on air’ (399); warm one’s blood/heart—defined as ‘make one feel warm or excited. [With the usage] The sight of the sister hugging her little brother after he was rescued warmed the heart of all the people’ (399); and watered—defined as ‘to feel sad; hurt; low. [With the usage] He’s pretty much watered right now because of the news of his uncle’s death’ (399).

This book will prove invaluable to ESL learners when used on a self-study basis or as part of a college-level course.

The common Finno-Ugric language

The common Finno-Ugric language: 4000 B.C.–3000 B.C. worksheet edition. By Gyula Décsy. Indiana: Author House, 2006. Pp. 190. ISBN 9781420882537. $18.70.

Reviewed by Katrin Hiietam, Manchester, UK

Gyula Décsy’s The common Finno-Ugric language is a follow-up to his 1990 The Uralic protolanguage. The idea for such a reference book emerged in 1970s Germany when the Finno-Ugric Department at the University of Hamburg decided to release a series of publications covering the origin of the Uralic languages. By comparing the phonology of about twenty Finno-Ugric languages still spoken in Eastern Europe and Western Siberia, D has reconstructed around 1200 words of Common Finno-Ugric (CFU). This work presents these words along with a reconstructed grammar of CFU, enhancing our knowledge of the origin of Finno-Ugric languages.

An amazingly comprehensive reference book for Finno-Ugrists, this volume covers the period of 4000 B.C.–3000 B.C. For someone with only a hazy idea of the origin of the Finno-Ugric languages it may prove a daunting reading at first glance, as only the first twenty pages provide a general overview and a discussion of the phonetics/phonology, syntax, and morphology of the ancestor of the present day Finno-Ugric languages. The rest of the book consists of word lists (e.g. CFU-English and  English-CFU, which include 500 Proto-Uralic and 660 Proto-Finno-Ugric words) and appendices: ‘Detailed phoneme frequency data for the first syllable’, ‘List of intersyllabic consonant clusters’, ‘Common Finno-Ugric lexical innovation’, ‘Indo-European and Indo-Iranian lexical loans’, and ‘List of possible Proto-Uralic and CFU words’.

The introduction of the book discusses the relationship between Proto-Uralic and CFU. An improved version of the data chart published in The Uralic protolanguage is also presented.   The main differences between these two languages are connected to several vocabulary-dependent phenomena such as phoneme frequency, syllable type frequency, building suffix inventory, and vocabulary semantics. However, D does not register any substantial differences between these two languages in the area of phonetics/phonology apart from frequencies. One of the most fascinating phenomena in Finno-Ugric languages is vowel harmony (i.e. the character of the vowel in the first syllable determines the vowel character in subsequent syllables). The author claims that vowel harmony was applied in 98% of cases in CFU.

According to D, the phonetics/phonology, morphology, and syntax of both CFU and Proto-Uralic are fairly similar and thus deserve a brief mention only; thus these topics receive only eleven, five, and two and a half pages respectively.

An interesting section in this book is the concept corpus that divides Proto-Uralic concepts into twenty-eight semantic groups (e.g. color, animals, anatomy, and social life). Furthermore, CFU concepts are divided into a larger number of categories under a slightly different classification system.

Although the introduction of this book states that this work is accessible for the general reader, I believe its full potential is unleashed only when read by a linguist who has specialized in this area.

English vocabulary elements

English vocabulary elements. 2nd edn. By Keith Denning, Brett Kessler, and William R. Leben. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Pp. 336. ISBN 9780195168037. $19.99.

Reviewed by Omaima M. Ayoub, Richard J. Daley College

Based on a course at Stanford University developed by the authors, the goal of this textbook is to expand the vocabulary of college students through a comprehensive yet introductory survey of the historical and structural changes that have affected English lexicon. The text introduces several hundred lexical elements that were directly and indirectly borrowed from Latin and Greek. These elements are thought to facilitate not only the learning of words but also an understanding of how the words fit into the language system. Intended for use in college-level courses on English word structure and vocabulary expansion, this textbook takes an approach that makes it possible for instructors to tailor their classroom work to the students’ needs and interests.

Divided into eleven chapters, this textbook presents the basic principles of word formation and word use and shows the effect they have had on the history of English vocabulary since the sixth century. Ch. 1, ‘The wealth of English’, examines the richness of English lexicon. Ch. 2, ‘The history of English and sources of English vocabulary’, deals with the development of the native Germanic vocabulary and the dynamics that introduced large numbers of lexical borrowings, especially from Latin, Greek, and French.

Ch. 3, ‘Morphology: Analyzing complex words’, introduces the concept of morphemes as well as word-formation processes such as affixation, compounding, clipping, and blending. Although Ch. 3 defines morphs as simplex morphemes whose meanings may vary from word to word, Ch. 4, ‘Allomorphy’, expands this definition and introduces the concept of allomorphs, which are defined as morphs that may change their form from word to word. Ch. 5, ‘Phonetics’, examines the sounds of English and explains how learning about the common features of sounds can help to master allomorphs.

Ch. 6, ‘Regular allomorphy: Numeric elements’, looks at the phonological rules that apply to the pronunciation of word elements that originated in Latin and Greek. This chapter also examines how numeral morphemes often occur with other morphemes from the same source language—for example, Greek penta ‘five’ combines with Greek gon ‘angle’ in pentagon. Ch. 7, ‘Polysemy and semantic change’, defines polysemy as a word form with multiple historically and semantically related meanings, which resulted from semantic changes that added new meanings to a word while maintaining the old meaning(s).

Ch. 8, ‘Usage and variation’, discusses how usage and variation not only involve vocabulary, pronunciation, and spelling but also semantic and contextual factors such as dialect, standards (i.e. formal vs. informal), and speaking versus writing. Ch. 9, ‘Latin and Greek morphology’, introduces aspects of Latin and Greek morphology that cause English morphemes to change shape from word to word.

Ch. 10, ‘The prehistory of English and the other Indo-European languages’, traces the impact of Proto-Indo-European on the phonology and morphology of English. Ch. 11, ‘Later changes: From Latin to French to English’, discusses how changes in Latin since its classical period have affected English vocabulary.

This textbook is intended for an academic audience. Each chapter ends with a list of word elements to study and a large number of exercises that offer practice with the material in the text.

Morphology and its demarcations

Morphology and its demarcations. Ed. by Wolfgang U. Dressler, Dieter Kastovsky, Oskar Pfeiffer, and Franz Rainer. (Current issues in linguistic theory 264.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. Pp. xiv, 317. ISBN 9781588116383. $188 (Hb).

Reviewed by Ana R. Luís, University of Coimbra

This volume contains papers originally presented at the eleventh Morphology Meeting, held at the University of Vienna. All eighteen contributions deal with the main topic of the meeting—namely, the external and internal demarcations of morphology. Although this volume has not been explicitly divided into thematic sections, the articles clearly fall into three well-defined groups: (i) data that challenges the morphology-syntax distinction, (ii) the contrast between compounding and derivation, and (iii) the differences and similarities between inflection and derivation. Empirically, the data examined in this volume comes from a wide range of languages, including non-European languages like Wichita (North America), !Xun (Khoisan, Africa), Wellega Oromo (Cushitic), and Sanskrit as well as European languages such as English, Serbian, Bulgarian, Russian, Slovenian, Old Spanish, French, Dutch, Sanskrit, and Danish.

In the first group of papers, David S. Rood (‘Wichita word formation: Syntactic morphology’) discusses lexical integrity by examining verbal affixes that seem to express properties that relate to a phrasal constituent rather than to the verb they attach to. ‘Morphology in the wrong place’, by Michael Cysouw, offers a typological survey of ditropic clitics—that is, enclitics that attach to the word that immediately precedes their attractor. In ‘Clitics or affixes? On the morphological status of the future-tense markers in Serbian’, Jasmina Milićević examines whether Serbian has a synthetic future. Corrien Blom (‘The demarcation of morphology and syntax: A diachronic perspective on particle verbs’) discusses the grammatical status of particle verbs in Dutch and provides arguments that show that they constitute partly lexicalized phrases. The article ‘When clitics become affixes, where do they come to rest? A case from Spanish’, by Andrés Enrique-Arias, examines the placement of pronominal affixes in Modern Spanish in light of diachronic evidence from Old Spanish. Bernd Heine and Christa König (‘Grammatical hybrids: Between serialization, compounding and derivation in !Xun’) explain why certain hybrid units in !Xun, a North Khoisan language, seriously challenge the distinction between serialization, compounding, and derivation.

In the second group of papers, Sergio Scalise, Antonietta Bisetto, and Emiliano Guevara (‘Selection in compounding and derivation’) argue in favour of the demarcation between compounding and derivation on the basis of the criterion of head selection. Similarly, Bernard Fradin (‘On a semantically grounded difference between derivation and compounding’) examines French derived agent nouns in –eur and verb-noun compounds. This demarcation is also supported in ‘The borderline between derivation and compounding’, by Laurie Bauer, who shows that some morphologically complex words are neither prototypical derivatives nor prototypical compounds and by Dany Amiot (‘Between compounding and derivation: Elements of word-formation corresponding to prepositions’) who examines prepositions in French complex words. A different view of the derivation versus compounding debate is formulated by Geert Booij (‘Compounding and derivation: Evidence from construction morphology’), who explores the commonalities between compounding and affixal derivation within construction morphology and by Pavol Štekauer (‘Compounding and affixation: Any difference?’), who argues that, within a cognitive-onomasiological model, there are no principled differences between compounding and affixation.

The third group of papers deals with the boundary between inflection and derivation. Davide Ricca casts doubts on this distinction by providing examples of ‘Cumulative exponence involving derivation: Some patterns for an uncommon phenomenon’. By contrast, Maria-Rosa Lloret offers phonological motivation from Cushitic and Romance for splitting morphology within optimality theory (‘Revising the phonological motivation for splitting morphology’). The remaining articles are more concerned with the discussion of phenomena on the borderline between inflection and derivation: Stela Manova (‘Derivation versus inflection in three inflecting languages’) examines nonprototypical instances of derivation and inflection in Slavic, which, according to her, show that derivation and inflection form a continuum. Sergey Say claims that ‘Antipassive sja-verbs in Russian’ exhibit partly derivational/partly inflectional properties. Rok Žaucer, ‘Slavic prefixes as state morphemes: From state to change-of-state morphology’, claims that Slavic prefixes constitute derivational morphemes, even though they are often linked to perfectivity. Finally, Gregory T.Stump examines the status of Sanskrit –aya stems and clarifies the criteria for ‘Delineating the boundary between inflection-class marking and derivational marking’. This last paper is followed by a language and a subject index.

The power of speech

The power of speech. By Paul Rastall. (LINCOM studies in theoretical linguistics 36.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2006. Pp. 115. ISBN 9783895864797. $78.26.

Reviewed by Carol Myers-Scotton, Michigan State University

From the title of this slim volume, one might expect a study of power as a sociolinguistic variable. Unfortunately, it is not. Instead, Paul Rastall offers a philosophical essay that reiterates the old argument that the primary function of language is communication. Thus, the term power is used in the specific sense that speakers do things with words. As R states,

the central ideas [in this volume] are that acts of speaking are events and that their essence is their power to achieve specific changes both in the speaker by satisfying particular communicational needs and in the hearer by altering dispositions in specific, although not necessarily predictable ways. (61)

He strongly asserts that ‘this position involves the view that meaning exists only in the speech act’ (61).

Unfortunately, R fails to support this position with detailed arguments or examples. Rather, he presents a general overview of different theories on the nature of language, spending more time on Karl Popper’s views than on any other perspective. Not surprisingly, R aligns himself not only with J. L. Austin but also with what he refers to as Prague and neo-Prague functionalism. However, again, he does so with little detail. For these reasons, it is hard to learn much from this book than what has already been said elsewhere.

Vernacular universals and language contacts

Vernacular universals and language contacts: Evidence from varieties of English and beyond. Ed. by Markku Filppula, Juhani Klemola, and Heli Paulasto. (Routledge studies in Germanic linguistics 14.) New York: Routledge, 2009. Pp. vi, 385. ISBN 9780415992398. $120 (Hb).

Reviewed by Marc Pierce, University of Texas at Austin

This book contains sixteen papers originally presented at a conference on World Englishes, held at the University of Joensuu in Finland in September 2006. The term vernacular universal is used for “features that are found (more or less) universally across all kinds of (nonstandard) varieties of different languages” (2). This book is divided into four parts: ‘The theory of vernacular universals’, ‘Consonant cluster reduction and default singulars: Prototypical vernacular universals?’, ‘Universals and contact in varieties of English’, and ‘Methodological and theoretical perspectives’. As the limitations of this forum preclude a full commentary on all of the papers in the volume, only one paper from each section will be discussed here, in order to provide a snapshot of this book’s contents.

This volume opens with an introduction by the editors, which discusses issues such as the markedness of vernacular universals and their (possible) role in second language acquisition and also outlines the contents of the rest of the book. In the section on ‘The theory of vernacular universals’, J. K. Chambers discusses ‘Cognition and the linguistic continuum from vernacular to standard’ (19–32). In this paper, Chambers examines the cognitive cost of linguistic complexity, suggesting that “vernaculars appear to be cognitively more efficacious than standard dialects” (20) and illustrating these points with an examination of look-ahead and look-back mechanisms in language processing.

In the next section, Terttu Nevalainen’s ‘Number agreement in existential constructions: A sociolinguistic study of eighteenth-century English’ (80–102) considers subject-verb agreement, treating issues like synchronic and diachronic variation, eighteenth-century prescriptivist views of the subject, and variation according to factors such as gender.

In the section on ‘Universals and contact in varieties of English’, Donald Winford offers a paper entitled ‘The interplay of ‘universals’ and contact-induced change in the emergence of New Englishes’ (206–30). Winford argues that contact vernaculars like Irish English and English-lexicon are the ‘result of “natural” or “untutored” SLA [second language acquisition], and that the theoretical framework within which SLA has been studied is most relevant to a unified explanation of their origins’ (207). This claim is supported by a discussion of the development of tense-mood-aspect systems in three such vernaculars (Irish English, Singapore Colloquial English, and Barbadian creole).

Finally, in the last section of the book, Sarah G. Thomason tackles the question of ‘Why universals vs. contact-induced change?’ (349–64). In Thomason’s view, this dichotomy is unsustainable, as many cases of language change involve both universals and language contact; this argument is illustrated by data from languages such as English and Montana Salish.

This is a valuable book that will be of use to those interested in historical linguistics, language contact, and sociolinguistics. My only reservation is the rather steep price.

The discourse reader

The discourse reader. 2nd edn. Ed. by Adam Jaworski and Nikolas Coupland. New York: Routledge, 2006. Pp. 576. ISBN 9780415346320. $51.95.

Reviewed by Carol Myers-Scotton, Michigan State University

This volume, which contains edited versions of previously published work, will demonstrate to both experienced researchers and students just how dynamic the field of discourse studies is, in terms of both theoretical goals and topics for analysis. The editors’ excellent general introduction (1–37) provides an insightful synthesis of how various approaches to discourse reinforce the notion that all discourse has multilayered meanings.

Overall, the chapters stress the role of discourse structures as tools used to negotiate personal relationships and legitimatize institutional authority. The six parts have overlapping themes: ‘Meaning, function and context’ (Part 1); ‘Methodologies and resources’ (Part 2); ‘Sequence and structure’ (Part 3); ‘Negotiating social relationships’ (Part 4); ‘Identity and subjectivity’ (Part 5); and ‘Power, ideology and control’ (Part 6).

Part 1 focuses on classic readings that emphasize discourse as an interactional phenomenon in which intentional meanings are conveyed by the structure of the discourse. Chapters include H. P. Grice, ‘Logic and conversation’ (66–77), on the cooperative principle; John J. Gumperz, ‘Sociocultural knowledge in conversational inference’ (78–85), on contextualization cues; and Emanuel A. Schegloff, ‘Talk and social structure’ (86–97), on what is pragmatically relevant to the participants.

Principally, two theoretical approaches or methodologies are represented throughout this volume: conversation analysis and critical discourse analysis. The conversation analysis approach is often used in chapters that analyze the structure of specific conversations. Several chapters consider how discourse structures or patterns can become tools to reinforce power relations or promote particular ideologies. For example, Pierre Bourdieu, ‘Language and symbolic power’, (480–90) explains how ‘the whole social structure is present in each interaction’ (481), Teun A. Van Dijk investigates ‘Discourse and the denial of racism’ (506–20), and Norman Fairclough discusses ‘Global capitalism and critical language awareness’ (146–57).

Although there are a few innovative chapters that consider sounds (Theo Van Leeuwen, ‘Sound in perspective’ [179–93]), signs (David Graddol, ‘The semiotic construction of a wine label’ [194–203]), and ‘Visual interaction’ (362–84) as discourse (Gunther Kress and Theo Van Leeuwen), some themes one might have expected are missing (e.g. something from Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson or other more cognitively-oriented approaches to discourse). Bilingual discourse is ignored entirely. Unfortunately, some of the chapters are so abridged that they are hard to follow (e.g. Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson’s ‘Politeness: Some universals in language usage’ [311–23]). However, the intellectual level of the introductions and of many of the chapters is high; possibly too high for the intended student audience. Still, Adam Jaworski and Nikolas Coupland deserve congratulations for a volume that is a great success in portraying what doing discourse means today.

Current trends in child second language acquisition

Current trends in child second language acquisition: A generative perspective. Ed. by Belma Haznedar and Elena Gavruseva. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008. Pp. 363. ISBN 9789027253071. $158 (Hb).

Reviewed by Katrin Hiietam, Manchester, UK

Taking a generative perspective on child second language (L2) acquisition, this book is a collection of papers on the nature of grammars developed by child L2 learners. The main subjects of these studies are successive bilinguals, between the ages of four and eight, who have mastered the basics of their first language (L1) and are now getting exposure to a L2. This volume seeks to draw borders between child L2 acquisition and other types of L2 acquisition and consequently hopes to open up new perspectives in the current linguistic debate.

Over the years, L2 acquisition has been studied in terms of developmental universals, L2 developmental stages, rate of development, individual differences, parameter settings, access to universal grammar, and the role of L1 transfer. In contrast, the present volume concentrates on L1 transfer in child L2, the relationship between morphological development/variability and syntactic representations, and the predictions of the domain-by-age model. According to this model, child L2 acquisition resembles child L1 acquisition in the domain of inflectional morphology, whereas in the domain of syntax, child L2 acquisition is more like adult L2 acquisition (Schwartz 2003: 47). Two papers (by Elma Blom and Jürgen M. Meisel) present evidence against the domain-by-age model and suggest that this framework is ready for theoretical revision.

The papers in this volume can be divided into five themes:

(i) Age effects and differences between child and adult learners. The tentative conclusion that emerges is that child L2 resembles adult L2 more than child L1, at least in terms of some areas of morphosyntactic development.

(ii) The acquisition of determiner-related elements. The comparison of child and adult acquisition illustrates that children are superior to adults in determiner acquisition.

(iii) Morphological variability. These papers focus on auxiliaries, verb omission, pronominal subjects, and morphological variability in overt morphology. A variety of conclusions are revealed such as that the acquisition of copulas can depend on aspectual properties, child L2 acquisition of pronominal subjects is similar to that of child L1 acquisition, and there is dissociation between morphology and syntax.

(iv) Comparison of child L1, child L2, and adult L2. It is proposed that both child and adult acquisition of verb placement and inflection are similar. Also, existing methods of proficiency evaluations are criticized in these papers.

(v) Typical versus atypical child L2 acquisition. A domain-specific model guides the acquisition of tense in impaired or delayed child L2, while also interacting with children’s sensitivity to computational complexity.

These themes are researched through innovative experimental designs that take into account L2 learners’ proficiency levels, quasi-elicited production, electronic corpora, and longitudinal studies. By introducing novel experimental techniques, this volume adds to the research methodology in the field of child L2 acquisition.

This volume discusses new theoretical perspectives, studies the phenomena of linguistic interface, and introduces new methods of investigation. Perhaps the main contribution of this book is that it presents data from child L2 studies beyond English-as-a-L2 contexts. Apart from English, the languages that are discussed in this volume are Dutch (Blom; Susanne Brouwer, Leonie Cornips, & Aafke Hulk), French (Philippe Prévost), German (Meisel), and child L2 learners of Modern Greek (Vicky Chondrogianni).


SCHWARTZ, BONNIE D. 2003. Child L2 acquisition: Paving the way. Proceedings of the 27th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, Vol. 1, ed. by Barbara Beachley, Amanda Brown, and Frances Conlin, 26–50. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla.

Lexical borrowings as sociolinguistic variables

Lexical borrowings as sociolinguistic variables in Saint-Louis, Senegal. By Fallou Ngom. (LINCOM studies in sociolinguistics 05.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2006. Pp. ix, 187. ISBN 9783895863547. €60.

Reviewed by Fiona Mc Laughlin, University of Florida

This volume provides quantitative and qualitative analyses of lexical borrowings from French, Arabic, and English into Wolof within a sample of two hundred speakers in Saint-Louis, Senegal. Fallou Ngom analyzes the borrowings as sociolinguistic variables that correlate with age and sex and concludes that Arabic borrowings are typical of older speakers (i.e. fifty years of age and above), whereas English borrowings are stigmatized within older speakers but are typical of the speech of youths (i.e. those between twenty  and thirty years of age). French borrowings remain fairly constant across categories: no significant difference is apparent between age groups.

Data were obtained by means of the classic Labovian sociolinguistic interview, which contains discussions of political, religious, and cultural themes. N uses these themes to justify the division of the database into three separate registers. N finds that when speaking of political matters, speakers used more French borrowings because Senegal is a former French colony and many of its political institutions and practices are modeled on their French equivalents. However, when discussing religion in this predominantly Muslim country, Arabic borrowings were used more often, whereas English borrowings were used primarily in the discussion of cultural themes among the younger speakers.

N invokes the history of Saint-Louis as justification for choosing this city as a research site. During the colonial period, Saint-Louis was an important center of Muslim influence in terms of religious, legal, and educational institutions, and, as the former capital of French West Africa, Saint-Louis was where the French colonial policy of assimilation was presumably most assiduously implemented. However, N does not address whether this history affects the current residents of Saint-Louis or whether their speech differs from residents of other Senegalese cities.

A version of N’s dissertation, this volume has not been revised sufficiently and displays several shortcomings. Much of the relevant literature on borrowing in Wolof has been overlooked. Factual errors are frequent, such as N’s statement that ‘Wolof’s complex eight-class noun system […] is simplified to a two-class system in urban areas’ (32); although there is certainly a tendency towards a reduction of the noun class system in urban Wolof, it is not that extreme. Some of N’s speculations, such as his attribution of the existence of the voiceless uvular stop [q] in Wolof to Arabic influence, are spurious. The most conspicuous errors are in the presentation of the Arabic data. N presents the underlying representation of the definite article al plus noun in Arabic as the phonetic form and attributes the loss of the liquid consonant to Wolof phonotactics (despite Wolof’s allowance of l-consonant clusters) rather than to the well-known facts of coronal assimilation in the Arabic definite article. N has also confused the voiced and voiceless pharyngeal fricatives, [ʕ] and [ħ], in his Arabic transliterations. Finally, this study was not proofread for English errors and there are numerous mistakes on almost every page.