Monthly Archives: August 2010

Códice de composición

Códice de composición: Guía para escribir trabajos. 2nd edn. By Eduardo D. Faingold. Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2007. Pp. 42. ISBN 9783895860096. $36.54.

Reviewed by Louisa Buckingham, Sabanci University Writing Center, Turkey

This slim volume is a compilation of brief guidelines on essay writing in second language Spanish designed for undergraduate university students and in particular, for heritage speakers of Spanish. A practical guide for those with little formal writing experience, its contents appear to be derived primarily from other materials.

The book contains thirteen topics, which range from getting started, to incorporating secondary sources, using citations, and preparing a bibliography. Almost half of the topics address areas known to cause problems for native speakers of English, such as the use of the accent, false-friends, upper and lower case letters, and connectors. Each topic is treated very briefly, often with little more than a sentence or a short paragraph of explanation. Examples are accompanied by a translation into English where appropriate. At times, for example when listing connectors, the reader would benefit from a more textual rather than translation-based approach to writing: The provision of English equivalents for single words such as también ‘too, also, either’, además ‘besides, moreover, furthermore’, and por añadidura ‘for good measure’ should be expanded into short paragraphs that illustrate their use. In other places, the reader would benefit if a short practical exercise were provided to test understanding. For example, the brief information provided on capitalization and accent marking could be exploited by providing a short exercise that puts the guidelines to use.

Because this text is designed for students enrolled in university composition classes, some potentially useful details have been omitted. For example, the planning stage, perhaps the most crucial stage for inexperienced writers, would have benefited from examples of actual essay plans. Similarly, the activation of subject-specific vocabulary is vital for a successful essay (particularly for nonnative speakers), but this barely receives a mention. Advice on how to go about acquiring and activating the type of language required for formal essay writing would be of great use.

Because this text will provide solutions to simple questions that a student might have on the mechanics of preparing a written assignment, it has a place as a quick reference. However, it will not be able to offer more robust support in promoting second language composition skills.

Communication games

Communication games: The semiotic foundation of culture. By Eduardo Neiva. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2007. Pp. 306. ISBN 9783110190465. $147 (Hb).

Reviewed by Margaret J. Blake, Aarhus University, Denmark

A theoretical and philosophical monograph, this volume presents a view of culture and human agency that is apparently novel to the field of cultural semiotics. Eduardo Neiva argues for a model of culture that rejects traditional theoretical and philosophical biases in favor of a nondeterministic view of humans as biological creatures whose culture is only different from animal societies by a matter of degree, not a matter of kind. The book is rooted not only in Charles S. Peirce’s semiotics and Charles Darwin’s sexual selection theory but also in game theory (in the tradition of John Nash), in which the definition of game is ‘a situation in which individual interests collide’ (12).

The book is organized into three parts, with a foreword and afterword. Part 1, ‘Canonical games’, contains the chapters ‘Conflict’, ‘Coordination’, and ‘Contract’, which trace the genesis of the currently prevailing models of culture in the humanities and social sciences. Part 2, ‘Ancestral games’, which contains the chapters ‘Origin’ and ‘Sex, signals’, ‘seek[s] to write off the prejudice that human societies are a radical break from the natural world’ (20). Part 3, ‘Individual games’, which contains the chapters ‘Strategies’ and ‘Players’, examines the role that individual interactions play in culture and rejects the idea that cultural systems act as powerful enforcers. Throughout the book, N uses the Peloponnesian War to illustrate his theoretical standpoint. He mentions Aristophanes’s play Lysistrata as an example of the competing sexual strategies of males and females.

In the afterword, N summarizes his argument, which (i) views humans and nature to be separate; (ii) considers cultures to be ‘barriers between groups, generated through learning, which is always necessary to the socialization of human beings’ (243); (iii) views culture, rather than human agency, to be the determiner of individual action; (iv) rejects collectivism (N refers to collectivism and conventionalism as the ‘infantile diseases of the humanities and social sciences’, 244); and (v) supports the idea that cultural force on the individual is directly proportional to group size.

This volume is dense and heavily philosophical in nature. N’s assertations and conclusions will not come as news to anyone well-read in evolutionary anthropology, but that may not include a large number of cultural semioticians, thus N’s motivation to write the book. Linguists who are interested in differing theoretical views of human culture may be interested in skimming this volume.

A practical grammar of the San Carlos Apache language

A practical grammar of the San Carlos Apache language. By Willem J. de Reuse. Munich: Lincom Europa, 2006. Pp. xi, 569. ISBN 3895868612. $120.12.

Reviewed by Edward Vajda, Western Washington University

This fairly substantial treatment of one of the three Western Apache dialects was compiled to address the needs of native speakers, nonnative students, and professional linguists. As such, the book is something of a hybrid between a descriptive grammar and a textbook designed to satisfy two quite different groups of language learners: those with native-speaker skills and outright beginners.

The twenty lessons begin by describing the Apache phonetics and orthography, and proceed to increasingly complex topics in morphology and syntax. Each lesson contains practice exercises for grammar drill and dialogues with translation for conversation practice. Simple exercises target beginners and more involved problems are provided for students with advanced proficiency. Certain, more complex topics that might prove distracting in a regular language class are set aside in sections marked ‘advanced’ and could be skipped over for beginners. A number of features of potential significance to the linguist, which would be essential in a true reference grammar, are omitted entirely. For instance, no discussion of verb-prefix position classes is provided beyond a rudimentary overview in one of the ‘advanced’ subsections (34–38). At the same time, the material presented is of considerable richness and complexity and includes such topics as classificatory verbs and participant-individuated verbs of motion. Despite its clear and well-ordered explanations, this textbook could not be easily adopted below the high-school level and should be regarded as intended for serious, well-motivated students.

Appendices contain a useful index of verb paradigms, a glossary of grammatical terms, and a list of suggestions for further reading. The book ends with lengthy Apache-English (387–474) and English-Apache (475–569) dictionaries.

Native speakers and teachers will find the orthographic conventions useful, as this is the first publication to mark all three Apache tones clearly: acute accent for high tone, macron for mid tone, and grave accent for low tone. Each lesson contains numerous example sentences taken from natural speech, which illustrate the grammar in an order of graduated complexity that easily lends itself to serious language teaching.

A teacher’s guide, as well as cassette and CD voice recordings of the lesson materials, is in preparation. Sound supplements would be of great value, especially where native-speaker teachers are unavailable.

The primary author is Willem de Reuse, noted specialist on Athabaskan and other Native American languages. Phillip Goode served as his main native-speaker consultant, and his name also appears on the cover. Like many successful collaborations between professional linguists and native-speaker experts, this work shows a high degree of depth, accuracy, and professionalism. There is also useful information about traditional culture and society, particularly on kinship and clan structure (183–96). Despite the textbook format, this book is the most extensive description of any Apachean language form (excluding Navajo) yet published, and goes a long way toward providing a substantial reference.

Though it may not fully satisfy any of its intended subaudiences, this work is a major contribution to Athabaskan linguistics that will be of great practical value to all.

The scientific literature

The scientific literature: A guided tour. Ed. by Joseph E. Harmon and Alan G. Gross. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. Pp. xxiv, 327. ISBN 9780226316567. $29.

Reviewed by Margaret J. Blake, Aarhus University, Denmark

This fascinating volume discusses the written body of scientific knowledge, not with the intent of teaching about the science, but from the standpoint that scientific literature constitutes a distinct literary genre, worthy of study in its own right. The editors’ aim is ‘to convey to the general reader and the student of science the written and visual expression of science over time in all its variety’ (xviii). Although outside of their intended audience, it seems quite likely that many linguists will find this book worthwhile. It will be of interest to those interested in scientific literature as a literary genre or in scientific English as a specialized register with its own communicative norms; to those teaching scientific reading or writing to native or nonnative speakers of English; or, indeed, to those generally interested in the history, philosophy, and practice of science.

The book consists of two parts of roughly equal length. Part 1 discusses the early scientific literature through the late nineteenth century, when seminal works on radioactivity ushered in the nuclear age. This part consists of four chapters: ‘First English periodical [sic]’, ‘First French periodicals’, ‘Internationalization and specialization’, and ‘Select pre-modern classics’. Part 2 covers roughly the last century, starting with Albert Einstein’s well-known work on relativity and extending to the present. The instant classic announcement of the mapping of the human genome in 2001 is especially notable from a media studies standpoint because it was first published electronically. Part 2 consists of five chapters: ‘Equations, tables, and pictures’, ‘Organizing scientific arguments’, ‘Scientific writing style: Norms and perturbations’, ‘Controversy at work: Two case studies’, and ‘Select modern classics’, as well as a bibliography that contains lists of suggested readings and online resources.

Each chapter consists of ten to twenty entries, and each entry contains selected passages from a scientific article, coupled with contextualizing and analytical commentary. Although many of the articles were clearly chosen for their scientific importance, all are used to illustrate relevant points about scientific literature as a genre. One chapter is devoted to how the goal of the article affects its style (e.g. experimental method, new theory, literature review); another chapter focuses on the internal organization of a scientific article. The book does not focus solely on the text, however, but also touches on how the text is informed by the people writing it. This brings up the unavoidable nature of controversy between proponents of competing hypotheses as well as examples of humorous divergence from the norms of the genre, such as articles constructed as poems or musical compositions (as well as the classic Anonymous article ‘proving’ that Heaven is hotter than Hell).

A recurring theme is the complexities of scientific English: dense, jargon-ridden, noun-heavy, and verb-impoverished. The difficulty of this register is an ironic counterpoint to the editors’ complaint: ‘given that the scientific article is one of the most robust literary genres around today […] it seems unfortunate that relatively few outside the scientific community have an inkling of what this literature is really like’ (xix). This volume does make progress toward bridging that gap by gathering some of the most significant examples of Western scientific articles from the last five centuries, while simultaneously attempting to demystify the scientific article as a literary genre. This volume will not only be a worthwhile acquisition, it will make a thoughtful gift for friends and family members in the natural sciences.

Syncope in the verbal prefixes of Tlingit

Syncope in the verbal prefixes of Tlingit: Meter and surface phonotactics. By Seth Cable. (LINCOM studies in Native American linguistics 53.) Munich: Lincom Europa, 2006. Pp. iii, 75. ISBN 3895863777. $63.56.

Reviewed by Edward Vajda, Western Washington University

Tlingit forms a coordinate primary branch alongside Athabaskan-Eyak within the Na-Dene family. With about 845 speakers, all middle-age or older, this important language is highly endangered. No full-length grammar has yet appeared, and new descriptions of any aspect of Tlingit structure are noteworthy. This is particularly true of analyses targeting the complex morphophonology of verb prefixes, a phenomenon that has hitherto defied cogent explanation. Cable provides a succinct account of these alternations in the form of a single hierarchy of constraints operating across different subportions of the prefix string. His approach reveals that most apparent idiosycrasies in Tlingit verb-prefix shape accrue from general principles observable in other languages as well.

The study examines the Northern Coastal dialect taught in Alaska and owes much to three seminal works dealing with Tlingit verb morphology: The schetic categories of the Tlingit verb (Jeff Leer, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1991), A morphological study of Tlingit (Gillian Story, Dallas: SIL, 1966), and Tlingit verb dictionary (Gillian Story and Constance Naish, Fairbanks, AK: SIL, 1973).

This treatment adopts an optimality theory constraint-based framework to examine alternations between syllabic (CV) and nonsyllabic (C) allomorphs in Tlingit verb prefixes.  Its major thesis is that prefix allomorphy is a natural product of more general phonological output constraints that act to maintain the overall metrical well-formedness of the verb word. Understanding them renders Tlingit verb structure much less erratic than commonly assumed.

One of the strengths of this analysis is that the author avoids direct appeal to the shape of particular morphemes whenever possible. Instead, the general phonological principles discovered elegantly explain many morphological quirks. For example, the 1st person subject prefix χa lacks the final /t/ found in the 1st person object prefix χat due to a rule disallowing coronal codas across a certain subportion of the prefix string. The failure of the first syllable of the distributive prefix daGa to syncopate to *dGa is explained in the same way.

The prefix position class ‘template’ is cited merely as a descriptive convenience and receives no theoretical significance. Nevertheless, the existence of six partly overlapping phonological subzones in the verb string—including the classifier + root complex (called the ‘stem’), the ‘inner conjunct’ prefixes (positions 10 to 2), the ‘outer conjunct’ prefixes (positions 11 to 14), and the nonconjunct prefix 15—must crucially be stipulated when defining and ordering the constraints that govern Tlingit prefix-vowel syncope. Why these domains should exist at all cannot be understood from any general phonological or metrical principle and remains an interesting question for future research. The partially overlapping subdomains of the Tlingit verb contradict accepted conceptions of discrete prosodic levels. Why Tlingit morphophonology should employ such a typologically unusual structure begs further investigation.

This study represents an important contribution to the understanding of Tlingit phonology and verb morphology that offers particular insights into the language’s prosodic structure. It also has implications for understanding Athabaskan verb-prefix morphophonology, with which the author draws many parallels throughout the work.

Introduction to biosemiotics

Introduction to biosemiotics: The new biological synthesis. Ed. by Marcello Barbieri. Dordrecht: Springer, 2007. Pp. xii, 532. ISBN 9781402048135. $189 (Hb).

Reviewed by Margaret J. Blake, Aarhus University

This anthology provides an overview of the young field of biosemiotics, an interdisciplinary theoretical framework that draws upon the fields of biochemistry and philosophy and regards living creatures as semiotic systems. While highly tangential to linguistics proper, this volume will nevertheless be of interest to linguists for two key reasons: (i) the overarching theoretical usage of the triadic sign proposed by scientist and philosopher Charles Peirce in contrast to the familiar, dyadic Saussurean sign; and (ii) the two chapters that discuss perceptual integration and interspecific communication by nonhuman animals. The book is divided into three parts: ‘Historical background’, ‘Theoretical issues’, and ‘Biosemiotic research’.

Part 1, ‘Historical points’, consists of three chapters, which discuss the philosophical and biological research ranging back to classical Greece that forms the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of biosemiotics. All three chapters are easily accessible for linguists and are well worth reading.

Part 2, ‘ Theoretical issues’ consists of ten chapters and is something of a mixed bag. The chapters written by bioscientists may be over the head of many linguists who do not have a strong background in the biological sciences. However, many of the chapters written by semioticians and philosophers are, in my opinion, overly liberal in their theoretical claims, and thereby undermine the scientific rigor to which the field of biosemiotics aspires. The last chapter, ‘Information theory and error-correcting codes in genetics and biological evolution’ by Gérard Battail, will be of interest to linguists because it draws on information theory to examine various problems in biology. ‘Semiotic scaffolding of living systems’ by Jesper Hoffmeyer, while complex, is worth reading, if only for an amusing and enlightening linguistic analogy with the word spam.

Part 3, ‘Biosemiotic research’, despite its name, contains very little new research; instead, it consists primarily of biosemiotic reinterpretations of prior research and outlines for future research directions. It contains five chapters, two of which, ‘Inner representations and signs in animals’ by Stephen Philip Pain and ‘Language and interspecific communication experiments: A case to re-open?’ by Dario Martinelli, are likely to be of interest to linguists, particularly those whose research includes animal communication or the nature and origin of language.

As linguists, we are used to thinking of language as fundamental to humanity; I imagine, however, that most of us have never made the leap to the idea that semiosis is fundamental to life. This idea, at once humbling and exhilarating, struck me as the key message of the book. For this reason, this book is absolutely worthy of the reader’s time.

A grammar of Tariana

A grammar of Tariana. By Alexandra A. Aikhenvald. (Cambridge grammatical descriptions.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Pp. xxiv, 705. ISBN 0521028868. $90.

Reviewed by Edward Vajda, Western Washington University

Like other volumes in the same series, this grammar of Tariana, a North Arawak language spoken by fewer than 100 people, avoids rigid descriptive formalism and includes many observations on key sociohistorical factors that have influenced synchronic structure. Aikhenvald’s treatment of areal patterns in the linguistically diverse Vaupés region of northwestern Brazil attests to her thorough familiarity with traditional lifeways. Also commendable is A’s detailed acknowledgement of her native consultants, particularly the Brito family who provide much of the data.

A full appraisal of A’s superb treatment of this morphologically complex language exceeds the scope of this review, though a few of the book’s twenty-six chapters deserve special mention. Several facets of the morphology differ significantly enough from previously documented languages to compel the author to pioneer novel descriptive terminology. Noun structure includes up to sixteen structural positions involving interacting subsystems of classifiers (86–121), some of which are capable of attaching to other form classes. Certain noun class markers may cooccur in the same morphological word, resulting in a sort of double marking that A calls ‘stacking’. It seems likely that the technique of using a build-up of inflectional markers as a sort of stem-creation device is linked to the relative dearth of true derivational morphemes.

Another typologically extraordinary feature of Tariana is the complex system of evidentials, which apparently developed under areal influence from East Tucano languages. Most languages beyond lowland South America possessing morphological evidentials merely contrast witnessed vs. hearsay information. Tariana specifies precisely how the narrated event was experienced (287–323). One evidential indicates an event was viewed directly, another that the reported information was detected by being heard or smelled, and another that the narrator witnessed some sort of indirect evidence supporting the given assertion. These contrast with a form generically conveying the hearsay status of the narrated information. The unusual structural variety of monoclausal predicates is likewise noteworthy. A’s conclusions regarding differences between the language’s complex predicates, several types of serial verb constructions, and two types of verb compounds contribute a fundamentally new understanding of this important aspect of Tariana sentence formation.

A special topic of note concerns the language-contact situation in the Vaupés region (6–9). The Tariana people, together with neighboring tribes, traditionally practiced a sort of linguistic exogamy, according to which marrying someone of the same native language represented a transgression analogous to incest. Consequently, the native languages of one’s mother and father were completely different, with the children inheriting their father’s language along with his ethnic identity. Over time, this arrangement has led to rampant diffusion of phonological and grammatical traits.

Many features of Tariana challenge conventional assumptions regarding the limits of human-language variability. The classifier system, diverse elaboration of evidentials, and grammatically competing serial verb constructions and other types of complex predicates all render ample testimony to the value original fieldwork holds for future linguistic theorizing. This impressive volume achieves its own standard of excellence and should inspire other linguists to document underdescribed languages while there is still time.

Issues in the meaning-text theory

Selected lexical and grammatical issues in the meaning-text theory: In honour of Igor Mel’čuk. Ed. by Leo Wanner. (Studies in language companion series 84.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007. Pp. xviii, 380. ISBN 9789027230942. $188 (Hb).

Reviewed by Sandra Becker, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Because of his pioneering use of meaning-text theory (MTT) for research on machine translation, this volume is in honor of Igor Mel’čuk. Although some of the papers address lexical issues, others discuss the nature of the units in a linguistic model, the linguistic structures themselves, and how these structures are processed.

Following a brief introduction by Leo Wanner, David Beck asks ‘What to do with the ideophones? A problem in lexical classification from Upper Necaxa Totonac’. Beck identifies a set of properties that distinguish ideophones from other words in the lexicon. He argues that in Upper Necaxa Totonac, ideophones resist classification as adverbs because they seem to reveal more complex linguistic aspects. In ‘Lexical function standardness’, Alain Polguère contrasts standard and nonstandard lexical functions and examines fuzzy aspects of lexical functions.

Several contributors discuss collocations—a complex epiphenomenon in any language. Margarita Alonso Ramos breaks new ground on the distribution of the syntactic actants in ‘Towards the synthesis of support verb constructions’. In ‘Motivation of lexical association in collocations: The case of intensifiers for “nouns of joy”’, Francis Grossmann and Agnès Tutin investigate the correlation between the semantics of a lexeme and the collocations in which the lexeme occurs. Using collocational associations in French, they demonstrate that ‘the collocability between pairs of words is also partially predictable’ (140). Methodological issues are raised by Marie-Claude L’Homme in ‘Using explanatory and combinatorial lexicology to describe terms’. Her substantial contribution may lead to a significant change in how researchers approach the description of specialized terms. In ‘Lexical functions in actual NLP-applications’, Jury D. Apresjan, Igor M. Boguslavsky, Leonid L. Iomdin, and Leonid L. Tsinman use MTT devices of sentence representation and the notion of lexical function to present a promising computer-aided learning system. Leo Wanner and Bernd Bohnet explore patterns for the automatic classification of collocations in ‘Automatic recognition of lexical function instances’.

The final papers summarize the results of several experiments on paraphrasing. In ‘Semantic equivalence rules in MT-paraphrasing’, Jasmina Milićević tackles questions raised by the production of paraphrases or (quasi-)synonymous sentences. She proposes new rules that ‘would allow for a better division of labor between semantic and deep-syntactic equivalences rules, leaving to syntax what can reasonably be treated in syntax and using semantics for the rest’ (292). Kim Gerdes and Sylvain Kahane’s ‘Phrasing it differently’ uses German grammar to present an interface between syntactic structures and topological phrase structures. Finally, Alexis Nasr proposes ‘A generative approach to parsing in the framework of the meaning–text theory’.

This volume provides a clear and elegant collection of investigations. Each paper provides the ground for new reflections, critical debates, and investigations in the field. Together, the contributors broaden and sharpen the understanding of the nature of meaning.

Český jazykový atlas

Český jazykový atlas. 5 vols. Vol. 1, ed. by Jan Balhar and Pavel Jančák. Prague: Academia,1992. Pp. 427; Vol. 2, ed. by Jan Balhar and Pavel Jančák. Prague: Academia, 1997. Pp. 507; Vol. 3, ed. by Jan Balhar. Prague: Academia, 1999. Pp. 577; Vol. 4, ed. by Jan Balhar. Prague: Academia, 2002. Pp. 626; Vol. 5, ed. by Jan Balhar. Prague: Academia, 2005. Pp. 680. ISBN 8020000135.

Reviewed by Zdenek Salzmann, Northern Arizona University

The linguistic atlas of the Czech language (hereafter Atlas) has been prepared by the dialectological team of the Institute for the Czech Language of the Czech Republic’s Academy of Sciences. It is based on research conducted between 1964 and 1976 in 420 rural communities and 57 cities in Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. Completed last among the atlases of West Slavic languages, it offers several important features: it contains information about the speech of urban youth and the generation of their grandparents, includes data concerning the state of spoken Czech in the cities of the border areas resettled after World War II, and enhances its broad coverage by covering several aspects of Czech syntax. In addition, the Atlas makes references to the Czech dialects spoken in several places outside the Czech Republic—in Poland (one community), Croatia (4), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1), Yugoslavia (2), and Romania (5).

The first three volumes record the geographical distribution of selected words of a number of semantic domains, among them those pertaining to kinship terms, body parts, diseases, bodily activities, foods, kitchen utensils, gardens and orchards, fauna, flora, landscape, time and weather, villages in the past and at present, amusements, customs, farmsteads, farm work, livestock, and poultry. Altogether 774 headwords and thousands of their regional or local dialectal equivalents are discussed and their geographical distribution shown on maps. A thorough commentary accompanying each map consists of six sections: (i) a list of all elicited responses; (ii) a definition of the headword and the results of the field inquiry; (iii) the geographical distribution of the headword and of its dialectal equivalents from a linguistic viewpoint; (iv) an analysis of the lexemes shown on the maps in order to explain the development of the dialectal variants over time, using as sources the existing dictionaries of Old Czech, dictionaries published during the period of the national revival (from the end of the eighteenth century to the 1880s), modern dictionaries of Standard Czech, dictionaries of regional dialects, and etymological dictionaries of Czech; (v) relevant documentation from the dialects of Czech-speaking enclaves outside the Czech Republic; and (vi) references to other linguistic atlases, primarily West Slavic.

Vol. 4 concentrates on dialectal differences in morphology. The word classes examined here are nouns, adjectives, pronouns, numerals, and verbs. The commentaries correspond to those of the preceding volumes but in addition draw on historical grammars of Czech.

Vol. 5 is divided into sections dealing with phonology, syntax, adverbs, and supplementary research of urban localities. The inclusion of syntactic phenomena is a noteworthy innovation. Some of the items in this section (458–504) illustrate the means of expressing the relationship between clauses or parts of a sentence—for example, natož ‘let alone, even’, an adverb used to intensify the meaning of what follows, has seventeen main dialectal variants and several dozen additional subvariants. The final section is a set of summary maps based on the maps of all five volumes. These offer a new and more detailed classification of Czech dialects and reveal relationships between the bundles of isoglosses and the various administrative boundaries of the past that facilitated or hindered communication among speakers of the various regional or local dialects.

The large-sized volumes (12 x 8.5 in.) are well-designed and printed and contain well over 1,600 two-color maps. The Atlas offers a complete picture of the regional differentiation of spoken Czech and supports it with clear illustrations and rich commentaries. The staff of the Institute for the Czech Language has produced a truly impressive work.

Language description, history and development

Language description, history and development: Linguistic indulgence in memory of Terry Crowley. Ed. by Jeff Siegel, John Lynch, and Diana Eades. (Creole language library 30.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007. Pp. xv, 514. ISBN 9789027252524. $195 (Hb).

Reviewed by Sandra Becker, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Kindness, generosity, hard work, and chocolate mousse are some of the words chosen by friends to describe Terry Crowley. Twenty-one books, more than seventy journal articles, and grammars of seven languages are part Crowley’s collected works. Indeed, his interest in Oceanic languages and pidgins and creoles as well as his extensive fieldwork has inspired the linguists, villagers, students, and friends who have crossed his path.

The thirty-four articles presented here make a significant contribution to the field of language description, history, and development. For those who have never met Crowley, this book presents an invaluable chance to get to know him. The touching introductory words of Jeff Siegel, John Lynch, Diana Eades, and Helen Harper illustrate Crowley’s enduring legacy.

This volume is divided into three parts. Part 1, which consists of eighteen articles, addresses the fundamental issues of ‘Language description and linguistic typology’. Oceanic languages and pidgins and creoles are the focus of this section. William R. Thurston provides an absorbing narrative on Anêm, a language of Papua New Guinea. The Australian aboriginal moribund language Warrwa is explored by William B. McGregor. Noun incorporation in Rembarrnga, a polysynthetic language spoken in the Northern Territory of Australia, is analyzed by Graham R. McKay. Verbal aspect in Yugambeh-Bundjalung is investigated by Margaret Sharpe. Anna Margetts deals with close and remote objects in Saliba, a Western Oceanic language. Hannah Vari-Bogiri presents the reasons why referential nouns such as people in Raga are associated with cultural and economic value. Ray B. Harlow’s contribution sheds light on the pragmatic issues that involve subject position and movement in Maori. Spatial terms in Marshallese, Kiribati, and Tokenlauan are described by Bill Palmer. Kenneth L. Rehg presents a detailed study on the controversial diphthongs in Hawaiian. Prosody and Samoan loanwords are investigated by Albert J. Schütz. Therese Mary Aitchison canvasses Tongan accent and Joel Bradshaw investigates ia-bracketing in Tok Pisin. The multifunctionality of Papiamentu ku is discussed by Claire Lefebvre and Isabelle Therrien. France Mugler discusses the influence of social variables on phonological variation in Fiji English. Modality in Australian English is examined by Peter Collins. The idiosyncrasies of coverb constructions are the focus of Mengistu Amberber, Brett Baker, and Mark Harvey’s contribution. Cindy Schneider describes verb serialization in Abma within a framework that expresses modality and adverbial functions, aspect, and direction. Nicholas Thieberger closes with an insightful article on contestable serial verbs in South Efate.

In Part 2, the focus is ‘Language history and historical linguistics’. Paul Black’s paper is based on Crowley’s early studies of Nganyaywana’s historical development. Another classical contribution of Crowley’s is revisited by Harold Koch. He examines word-initial truncation and offers significant insights into Arandic etymology. Malcolm Ross describes two kinds of Oceanic locative constructions that have been maintained for 3500 years. Robert A. Blust explores the prenasalized trills of Manus. Alexandre François offers a close look at noun articles in Torres and Banks. After analyzing the distribution of noun phrase articles across noun categories, François considers their syntactic functions. Elizabeth Pearce adds detail to the phenomena of phonologically conditioned change in Unua. Aromatic turmeric provides a framework for the investigation of Proto-Extra Formosan in Ritsuko Kikusawa and Lawrence A. Reid’s paper. Ross Clark studies the reconstruction of the Early Melanesian Pidgin lexicon and grammatical structure.

‘Language development and linguistic applications’ are covered in Part 3. A basic model for entries in a Raga-English dictionary is outlined by D. S. Walsh. The changes suggested take into account Raga linguistic and cultural context. Paul Geraghty offers a detailed profile of the Fijian language and presents the Fijian iVolavosa dictionary. Mark Donohue first outlines the guiding principles for a dictionary, and then describes his three-language dictionary project involving English, Tok Pisin, and One (spoken in Papua New Guinea). Roger Barnard outlines a platform for the comprehension of language education policies in New Zealand and offers insightful suggestions for their improvement. Ethnoeducation, the primary approach to the education of indigenous groups in Colombia, is addressed by Tony Liddicoat and Timothy Jowan Curnow. They represent an alternative voice on issues of endangered languages, language policy, and planning. Similarly, Michael Walsh provides an alternative voice for language endangerment. Robert Early examines the problems of mapping and analyzing indigenous living vernacular languages in Melanesia. The funeral protocols of speakers of the indigenous language Kaurna inspired Rob Amery and Dennis O’Brien. Their contribution shows how funeral liturgy brings people together to use the Kaurna language.

The authors and editors of this volume should be applauded. They have created a solid and well-organized book that will delight readers with its wealth of data and careful analyses.