Monthly Archives: August 2010

Niederdeutsch in Ostfriesland

Niederdeutsch in Ostfriesland: Zwischen Sprachkontakt, Sprachveränderung und Sprachwechsel. By Gertrud Reershemius. (Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistic Beiheft 119.) Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2004. Pp. 200. ISBN 9783515085717. $64 (Hb).

Reviewed by Marc Pierce, University of Texas at Austin

This slim volume examines the status of Low German in Ostfriesland, a small peninsula in the extreme northwestern part of Germany, on the border with the Netherlands. Ostfriesland is an especially appropriate area to investigate Low German, since it is part of the central Low German-speaking area and Low German is (still) generally quite well established there.

The first chapter, ‘Einleitung’ (13–17), briefly sets the stage for the rest of the work with an abbreviated overview of work on Low German and an outline of the remainder of the book. The next chapter, ‘Historischer sprachkontakt: Friesisches Substrat und der Einfluss von Niederländisch und Standarddeutsch’ (18–33), focuses on the historical situation. The first language shift in this area, namely from Frisian to Low German, is discussed, as is the impact of language contact with Dutch. The later shift from Low German to Standard German and recent changes in Low German are also reviewed. The chapter closes with a description of the social and linguistic situation in the village of Campen, where the data were collected.

The third chapter, ‘Ostfriesisches Niederdeutsch—Beschreibung der im Untersuchungsraum gesprochenen Varietät’ (34–86), provides a grammar of the variety spoken in the area investigated, based on an extensive collection of data gathered between 1998 and 2000. The phonology is described first (relevant historical developments, e.g. the development of the consonantal system from Old Saxon to Middle Low German and then on to Low German, are also described). The morphology is then treated in detail, and the final section of the chapter focuses on syntax. All of the topics discussed in this chapter are illustrated with copious examples.

Ch. 4, ‘Sprachbewahrung oder Sprachverlust?  Zur Auswertung einer Umfrage in einer diglossischen Dorfgemeinschaft’ (87–97), presents the results of a survey conducted in the village, which was intended to investigate linguistic behavior and language attitudes. Some of the results suggest that Low German is in a strong position, as about 70% of the residents have at least a passive knowledge of Low German, for instance, but closer examination suggests that this view is deceptive, as fewer and fewer residents speak Low German with their children. Thus, it seems that the residents exhibit cultural loyalty, but not necessarily linguistic loyalty.

The next chapter, ‘Bilingualismus und Sprachveränderung’ (98–117), addresses tendencies towards change in various areas of Low German grammar, especially phonology and syntax, and then discusses the use of L2 elements in Low German, for example, as a story-telling device or as an organizational technique. The final thematic chapter of the book, ‘Abschliessende Bemerkungen und Ausblick’ (118–28), looks at topics like the (symbolic) use of Low German elements in Standard German and the connection between Low German and regional identitiy. Reershemius’s conclusion is necessarily somewhat pessimistic: despite the use of Low German as a marker of regional identity, Low German is not being learned by the younger generation, and is therefore in a precarious position. The book concludes with an extensive ‘Anhang’ (129–92), which records the results of a series of interviews with local residents conducted by two elderly native speakers of Low German.

This book is a useful study of Low German.  It is generally well-written and carefully done (barring a few oddities in the phonetic descriptions), and the data collected in the ‘Anhang’ should be particularly useful as a springboard for further studies of the topic.

Letter writing

Letter writing. Ed. by Terttu Nevalainen and Sanna-Kaisa Tanskanen. (Benjamins current topics 1.) Amsterdam, John Benjamins, 2007. Pp. viii, 160. ISBN 9789027222312. $120 (Hb).

Reviewed by Sandra Becker, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

This slim but precious volume presents current debates over letter writing and the pragmatics it involves. This volume consists of an insightful introduction, an in-depth book review, and seven articles that focus on late medieval letters, Early Modern English family correspondence, and issues of  politeness and address that showcase the cultural aspects of letter writing. Under the editorship of Terttu Nevalainen and Sanna-Kaisa Tanskanen, this special volume is devoted to the history and discursive nature of letter writing.

Seija Tiisala’s ‘Power and politeness: Languages and salutation formulas in correspondence between Sweden and the German Hanse’ examines medieval letters written in Latin, Low German, and Swedish to describe how language choice reflects power and reveals protocol and politeness conventions. In ‘Letters: A new approach to text typology’, Alexander Bergs expands the categories of text genres and presents some interrelated categories based on morphosyntactic variability and the different functions language can fulfill. ‘Text in context: A critical discourse analysis approach to Margaret Paston’, by Johanna L. Wood, reframes the social role of Margaret Paston using Norman Fairclough’s (Discourse and social change, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992) three-dimensional approach to critical discourse analysis. Sanna-Kaisa Tanskanen brilliantly examines the major aspects of intertextuality in her contribution, ‘Intertextual networks in the correspondence of Lady Katherine Paston’. Her study incorporates the so-called horizontal intertextual relations manifested through various references that connect distinct texts and serve the purpose of epistolary space structure analysis.

In ‘Inside and out: Forms of address in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century letters’, Minna Nevala provides a theoretical and historical overview of address usages. She calls attention to the opinions and reactions of the audience as well as to the addressee’s important role in the choice of direct address. In ‘Yours sincerely and yours affectionately : On the origin and development of two positive politeness markers’, Annemieke Bijkerk outlines the fluctuating historical origin of these formulaic politeness markers and remarks on the relevance of John Gay’s early eighteenth century linguistic studies. Ellen Valle’s ‘The pleasure of receiving your favour: The colonial exchange in eighteenth-century natural history’ focuses on ways in which letters influence and build scientific knowledge. Valle explores the macrostructure of eighteenth century correspondences and highlights personal, private, and public aspects of those letters. The final contribution is a glowing book review by Monika Fludernik of The familiar letter in early modern English: A pragmatic approach by Susan Fitzmaurice (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2002).

This book succeeds in delivering a refreshing, original, and reliable platform for those who are interested in a pragmatic approach to the analysis of letter writing.

Strukturalismus in der deutschen Sprachwissenschaft

Strukturalismus in der deutschen Sprachwissenschaft: Die Rezeption der Prager Schule zwischen 1926 und 1945. By Klaas-Hinrich Ehlers. (Studia Linguistica Germanica 77.) Berlin: de Gruyter, 2005. Pp. xii, 594. ISBN 9783110182644. $198 (Hb).

Reviewed by Marc Pierce, University of Texas at Austin

In the traditional account of the history of linguistics in Germany, it is often argued that linguists in Germany were slow to embrace structuralism, and it is normally suggested that this putative resistance to structuralism was due to a strict adherence to Neogrammarian doctrines and the general isolation of Germany from international scholarship during the Nazi period. In this exceptionally detailed and nuanced study, Klaas-Hinrich Ehlers effectively rebuts all of these ideas.

After a thorough introductory chapter, ‘Einführung’ (1–61), which looks at the worldwide reception of the Prague School and the depiction of Germany as a ‘Land ohne Strukturalismus’ (20), and presents a general introduction to the work as a whole, E turns to some of the main factors surrounding the reception of structuralism in the second chapter, ‘Äuβere Rahmenbedingungen der Strukturalismusrezeption international und im deutschsprachigen Raum’ (63–110). The first section of this chapter discusses some of the relevant political issues (e.g. the financial support provided to the Prague Linguistic Circle by the Czech government); E then turns to another possible barrier to the reception of the Prague School, namely the use of Slavic languages in their work, and concedes that this may have negatively impacted the spread of Prague School doctrines in some cases, but points out that the substantial amount of Prague School work written in German, French, and English certainly compensated for this. The chapter concludes with an evaluation of the role of the Prague School in the emergence of phonological theory.

Ch. 3, ‘Rezeption des Praguer Strukturalismus in der deutschen Sprachwissenschaft: Der Weg der Texte, das Netz der Kontake’ (111–276), looks at the spread of structuralist ideas into Germany. The presence of Prague School publications on the German book market is discussed (in 1931–1932 the Prague School reached an agreement with the German publisher Otto Harrassowitz), as are the distribution of Prague School publications through other channels (e.g. as review copies) and the presence of Prague School publications in German university libraries. The chapter concludes with an extensive, richly documented discussion of personal contacts between scholars in the German-speaking countries and members of the Prague Circle. Ch. 4, ‘Wirkung des Prager Strukturalismus in der deutschen Sprachwissenschaft: Vier Fallstudien’ (277–399), further develops the theme of personal contacts by looking at the impact of structuralist ideas on the work of four German scholars: Henrik Becker (who said of himself that ‘als Sprachwissenschaftler bin ich ein halber Tscheche’ (279)), Leo Weisgerber, Jost Trier, and Eugen Lerch.

The next chapter, ‘Rezeption und Wirkung des Prager Strukturalismus im deutschen Wissenschaftsmilieu der Ersten Tschechoslowakischen Republik’ (401–89), shifts the scene from Germany to Czechoslovakia. Here E looks at questions like personal contacts between Prague German scholars and the Prague Circle, the linguistic issue (again, what language(s) should be used in the Circle), and what he characterizes as the ‘Apartheid’ (409) of the Prague German and Czech scholarly arenas. The final chapter of the book, ‘Rezeption und Wirkung des Prager Strukturalismus im Kontext der allgemeinen Fachgeschichte: “Der Drang zur Synthese” in der deutschen Sprachwissenschaft’ (491–525), gives a more general assessment of the impact of the Prague School. An index of personal names and an extensive (50+ pages) bibliography complete the book.

The end result of E’s work is the following: linguists in Germany were in fact often very open to the new ideas represented by structuralist linguistics, and this openness can also be seen in the rejection of Neogrammarian ideas in favor of structuralist ones, as well as the extensive contacts between linguists from Germany and the members of the Prague School. Thus, the traditional view of the history of linguistics in Germany requires some revision. This excellent, carefully argued work is a major step towards accomplishing this task.

Style and social identities

Style and social identities: Alternative approaches to linguistic heterogeneity. Ed. by Peter Auer. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2007. Pp. viii, 513. ISBN 9783110190816. $49.

Reviewed by Geneviève Bernard Barbeau, Université Laval

Peter Auer’s Style and social identities: Alternative approaches to linguistic heterogeneity is a collection of papers that focus on new approaches and different methodologies to study the link between social identity and linguistic style. The volume is divided into three parts and contains sixteen chapters.

Part 1 concentrates on identity in multilingual contexts. In the introduction to Part 1, ‘Bilingual styles and social identities’, Peter Auer presents the concept of style as a social practice and as an identity that can be either collective or social. In ‘Language alternation as a resource for identity negotiations among Dominican American bilinguals’, Benjamin Bailey studies how Dominican American bilingual students use codeswitching to construct their identity. ‘Style and stylization in the construction of identities in a card-playing club’, by Anna De Fina, concentrates not only on the language choice made by Italian American men in a card-playing club but also on the men’s social roles and how their social role affects the identity they claim. In ‘Being a “colono” and being “daitsch” in Rio Grande do Sul: Language choice and linguistic heterogeneity as a resource for social categorisation’, Peter Auer, Jacinta Arnhold, and Cintia Bueno-Aniola describe the German/Portuguese bilingual colonial zone in the South of Brazil, focusing on the asymmetric relationship between the customers and the employees of a shop. The role of the names, nicknames, and pseudonyms used by young Italians in Germany to claim their social identity is presented in ‘Names and identities, or: How to be a hip young Italian migrant in Germany’, by Christine Bierbach and Gabriele Birken-Silverman. Inken Keim analyzes how a group of German-Turkish women change their language style as they grow older in ‘Socio-cultural identity, communicative style, and their change over time: A case study of a group of German-Turkish girls in Mannheim/Germany’. Finally, Kathryn A. Woolard provides an overview of the construction of identity in face-to-back communication (i.e. the interaction between bystanders), in ‘Bystanders and the linguistic construction of identity in face-to-back communication’.

Part 2, ‘Monolingual styles and social identities—From local to global’, focuses on variation within a monolingual system. While Nikolas Coupland presents a study of the speech styles and political rhetorics used by a politician in Wales in ‘Aneurin Bevan, class wars and the styling of political antagonism’, Grit Liebscher and Jennifer Dailey-O’Cain, in ‘Identity and positioning in interactive knowledge displays’, investigate the migrant identity of West Germans that moved to East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, focusing on the role of stereotypes in the interaction between Western and Eastern Germans. Jannis Androutsopoulos examines language style on the Internet and its impact on the self-presentation and the identity of the community in ‘Style online: Doing hip-hop on the German-speaking Web’.

Part 3, ‘Identity-work through styling and stylization’, focuses on the stylization of the other to create a social interpretation of a certain community. In ‘Playing with the voice of the other: Stylized Kanaksprak in conversations among German adolescents’, Arnulf Deppermann examines the stylization of the language spoken by second and third generation immigrant teenagers in Germany and how it contributes to the spread of stereotypes in the community. Mark Sebba, ‘Identity and language construction in an online community: The case of “Ali G”’, studies how identities are constructed in an online community by discussing a British comedy character who impersonates a stereotypical Caribbean gang leader. ‘Positioning in style: Men in women’s jointly produced stories’, by Alexandra Georgakopoulou, focuses on gender identity by studying the representation of men by female teenagers. In ‘The construction of otherness in reported dialogues as a resource for identity work’, Susanne Gunthner shows how story-tellers change their speaking style when they are transmitting the speech of others and how this change affects the perception of the listeners. In a similar vein, Helga Kotthoff examines the stylization of the self and the other in ‘The humorous stylization of “new” women and men and conservative others’. In the last paper, ‘A postscript: Style and identity in interactional sociolinguistics’, John J. Gumperz and Jenny Cook-Gumperz overview the way sociolinguistics studies style and identity from an interactional approach.

Overall, this volume offers an interesting presentation of different ways to study linguistic heterogeneity from many areas of linguistics—notably, phonetics, discourse analysis, variationist linguistics, and language contact. However, for scholars interested in the theory of social identity, it would have been helpful if Auer had presented social identity in a more detailed fashion that emphasized the study of identity in interaction, since this approach is used by many authors in the book. Nevertheless, for those who prefer to read empirical studies, this will be an interesting volume that presents a diverse array of subjects.

Old Frisian etymological dictionary

Old Frisian etymological dictionary. By Dirk Boutkan and Sjoerd Michiel Siebinga. (Leiden Indo-European etymological dictionary series 1.) Leiden: Brill, 2005. Pp. xxi, 591. $157 (Hb).

Reviewed by Marc Pierce, University of Texas at Austin

Frisian has long been a Cinderella figure in Germanic linguistics, especially in the United States. For instance, very few American universities offer courses in Frisian, and Frisian data is rarely discussed in more general survey courses. There are a number of possible reasons for this neglect, for example, the relatively late date of the earliest Frisian documents in comparison to the other Germanic languages, and the general lack of the reliable tools for the analysis of Frisian that exist for the other Germanic languages, including concordances, dictionaries, and so on. Fortunately, this deficit has been partially remedied over the past several years, especially with the publication of the sizable Handbuch des Friesischen ([Handbook of Frisian studies], ed. by Horst Haider Munske, 2001), and now with the volume under consideration here.

According to the preface, the impetus for this book came in the early 1990s, when Dirk Boutkan realized that there was no complete, up-to-date etymological dictionary of Old Frisian. In 1993, B therefore started to prepare a database of Old Frisian etymology, which he eventually began to convert into an etymological dictionary. The dictionary, however, remained unfinished at B’s untimely death in 2002, after which it was decided that it should be completed, although this task was complicated by several considerations (among other things, there were two different versions of the manuscript). It was decided that changes to B’s entries should be minimal (in fact, it was originally planned that B’s entries would be edited, but that no new entries would be prepared), and several hundred new entries were written. The entire manuscript was then examined by a team of specialists in Indo-European linguistics, who corrected obvious errors, but left B’s entries as intact as possible, and the various prefatory materials and indices were prepared (including an introductory chapter on topics like the process of preparing the dictionary, the justification for such a dictionary, and substratal influences in Indo-European).

The entries are much what one would expect from a work of this type. The word itself is given, along with an English gloss, and related Old Frisian forms are discussed, leading to the reconstruction of a Proto-Frisian form. This process is repeated for Germanic and Indo-European, assuming that the word is inherited from Proto-Indo-European (PIE). (If the word is a substrate item, the PIE reconstruction is omitted.) References to relevant literature and/or other entries are also given where appropriate.

Judging the value of such a book is a difficult task, as a completely accurate assessment is only possible after the book has been used for some time. Having said this, the entries I have examined to date all seem solid and reliable, and I have no reason to expect that the remaining entries will be different. Moreover, this book is the only work of its kind available in English, and it is therefore certainly a welcome addition to the literature on Germanic etymology.

Encyclopedia of Arabic language and linguistics

Encyclopedia of Arabic language and linguistics, Vol. 2. Ed. by Kees Versteegh, Mushira Eid, Alaa Elgibali, Manfred Woidich, and Andrzej Zaborski. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006. Pp. viii, 720. ISBN 9789004144743. $267 (Hb).

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

This second volume of the Encyclopedia of Arabic language and linguistics is arranged alphabetically from Eg- to Lan- and includes entries that offer definitions and illustrations of various linguistic and cultural terms pertaining to the Arabic language and heritage. This comprehensive reference work contains articles and bibliographical references on a wide range of linguistic topics discussed from an Arabic perspective.

The first entry under the letter E is ‘Egypt’, which is divided into the categories ‘Sociolinguistics’ and ‘General linguistic situation’ (i.e. ‘Languages spoken in Egypt’ and ‘Arabic dialects of Egypt’). ‘Arabic dialects of Egypt’ is further divided into the categories ‘Lower Egypt-Nile Delta’, ‘Upper Egypt-Nile Valley’, and ‘Oases’. ‘Languages spoken in Egypt’ briefly discusses the various dialects of Arabic (e.g. urban, rural, and Bedouin), Afro-Asiatic languages (e.g. Berber and Bedja), and non-Afro-Asiatic languages (e.g. Nubian and Fadicca). This section is supported with two maps that illustrate the dialects of the Nile Delta and the Nile Valley.

Overall, this encyclopedia is a valuable reference on a wide range of linguistic subjects related to the Arabic language and culture.

Making minds

Making minds: The shaping of human minds through social context. Ed. by Petra Hauf and Friedrich Försterling. (Benjamins current topics 4.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007. Pp. ix, 275. ISBN 9789027222343. $143 (Hb).

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

The eighteen papers in this volume take an interdisciplinary approach to the question of to what extent the mind is socially constructed. More specifically, this volume focuses on how an individual’s mental, psychological, and behavioral dispositions are shaped by the way he perceives himself understood and treated by others. Furthermore, the contributors, from the fields of philosophy, psychology, and ethology, contend that the social environment has a strong impact not only on mental contents such as beliefs, motives, and attitudes, but also on psychological and mental structures such as self-consciousness, traits, talents, and abilities.

The opening chapter, ‘Of minds and mirrors: An introduction to the social making of minds’ by Wolfgang Prinz, Friedrich Försterling, and Petra Hauf, outlines the principles that underlie the mechanisms involved in the social construction of the mind. Martin Kusch’s ‘How minds and selves are made: Some conceptual preliminaries’ offers a conceptual analysis of these mechanisms. In ‘Dynamics of social coordination’, Robin R. Vallacher, Andrzej Nowak, and Michal Zochowski describe social coordination between individuals in close relationships, and present a model that captures the emergence, maintenance, and disruption of this coordination. Mark Snyder and Olivier Klein’s ‘Construing and constructing others: On the reality and the generality of the behavioral confirmation scenario’, focuses on the role of the behavioral confirmation phenomenon in shaping the social perceptions of perceivers, targets, and outside observers. Along the same lines, William B. Swann’s ‘The self and identity negotiation’ examines the causes and consequences of self-verification (i.e. the tendency for targets to make perceivers verify their self-views). In ‘Social reality makes the social mind: Self-fulfilling prophecy, stereotypes, bias, and accuracy’, Lee Jussim, Kent D. Harber, Jarret T. Crawford, Thomas R. Cain, and Florette Cohen argue that social psychology’s emphasis on the biased, erroneous, and inaccurate perception of social perceivers creates a deformed social reality.

In ‘How to do things with logical expressions: Creating collective value through co-ordinated reasoning’, Denis Hilton, Gaëlle Villejoubert, and Jean-François Bonnefon contend that logical expressions have performative functions that enable speakers to perform particular acts and state certain propositions. Sandra Graham’s ‘Attributions and peer harassment’ uses attribution theory to examine how peer harassment influences the way victims think of themselves. In a similar vein, Kurt Hahlweg’s ‘The shaping of individuals’ mental structures and dispositions by others: Findings from research on expressed emotion’ outlines the history of expressed emotions in schizophrenic patients and presents evidence for the relationship between family expressed emotions and mood disorders in those patients. In ‘Ostracism: The making of the ignored and excluded mind’, Kipling D. Williams and Jonathan Gerber examine the consequences of ostracism (i.e. being ignored and excluded) on neurophysiological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral levels. In ‘Self processes in interdependent relationships: Partner affirmation and the Michelangelo phenomenon’, Caryl E. Rusbult, Madoka Kumashiro, Shevaun L. Stocker, Jeffrey L. Kirchner, Eli J. Finkel, and Michael K. Coolsen review theoretical and empirical research conducted on the Michelangelo phenomenon, which refers to the manner in which close partners shape one another’s dispositions, values, and behavioral tendencies.

In ‘Constructing perspectives in the social making of minds’, Jeremy I. M. Carpendale, Charlie Lewis, Ulrich Müller, and Timothy P. Racine focus on the development of joint attention in infants and its relation to language development, which may pave the way for social development. Lucie H. Salwiczek and Wolfgang Wickler’s ‘The shaping of animals’ minds’ argues that animals’ minds are shaped throughout several social processes. Similarly, Josep Call’s ‘Chimpanzees are sensitive to some of the psychological states of others’ suggests that chimpanzees can interpret the perceptions and actions of human experimenters. In ‘The understanding of own and others’ actions during infancy: “You-like-me” or “me-like-you”?’, Petra Hauf and Wolfgang Prinz examine the bidirectional nature of social interaction during infancy. In ‘Experiencing contingency and agency: First step toward self-understanding in making a mind?’, Jacqueline Nadel, Ken Prepin, and Mako Okanda examine the

development of action understanding in preverbal infants. György Gergely and Gergely Csibra’s ‘The social construction of the cultural mind: Imitative learning as a mechanism of human pedagogy’ contends that the selective interpretive nature of early imitative learning can be seen as a result of the assumptions built into the infant’s pedagogical stance, which leads to the efficient transmission of cultural knowledge. Finally, in ‘File change semantics for preschoolers: Alternative naming and belief understanding’, Josef Perner and Johannes L. Brandl develop a new theory of cognitive changes in four-year-old children, by examining the reasons alternative naming emerges at this age.

When they severed earth from sky

When they severed earth from sky: How the human mind shapes myth. By Elizabeth Wayland Barber and Paul T. Barber. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004. Pp. xvii, 290. $29.95.

Reviewed by Marc Pierce, University of Texas at Austin

This is a book about myth, not primarily about language, and therefore it may well be overlooked by readers of Language. This would be a mistake, however. The blurbs on the dust jacket set the bar very high, as adjectives like ‘fascinating’, ‘novel and convincing’, and ‘idiosyncratic and engaging’ are freely used. Happily, the book lives up to the blurbs. I read it in two sittings (a task considerably aided by the liveliness of the individual chapters), enjoyed it immensely, and have since come back to it several times to browse and reread.

The central thesis of the book is that ‘“myths” were not intended as fiction in our sense, but as carriers of important information about real events and observations’ (244), and the authors distill a number of ‘myth principles’ out of their research (these principles are presented in the individual chapters and then conveniently collected in an appendix at the end of the book), including the ‘memory crunch’, which states that ‘When all accumulated wisdom must be stored in the brain and transmitted orally …, people reserve the formal oral tradition for transmitting the information they consider most important, often for survival’ (5); the ‘silence principle’, which holds that ‘What everyone is expected to know already is not explained in so many words’ (17); and the ‘restructuring principle’, according to which ‘Whenever there is a significant cultural change, at least some patterns will get restructured or reinterpreted’ (139).

Consider a case used to illustrate the memory crunch: a soldier stationed at Fort Klamath in 1865 had asked why the Klamaths never went near Crater Lake. In response, the soldier was told a story about divine retribution upon the Klamaths because one of their maidens had refused to marry the Chief of the Below World. The authors argue convincingly that this story is really about the volcanic events leading up to the formation of Crater Lake, which have been ‘ice-dated to 7,675 years ago’ (8), and also that it remained important to the Klamaths because of the warning it carried. After all, ‘innocent-looking Crater Lake … for all they knew, might explode again next week’ (9). Because of its importance, this warning about volcanic events was transmitted in the form of a myth for almost eight thousand years. Similar cases from areas ranging from Ancient Egypt to Eastern Europe are also discussed, on a wide range of topics, including dragons, vampires, and the theft of fire from the gods. Some of the evidence is not the type one generally expects to see in a scholarly work (reference is made to both the comic strip The Far Side and the famous ‘Who’s on first’ comedy routine of Abbott and Costello, for example), but this only adds to the lively tone of the volume.

The book is full of interesting facts—my favorite is that the phrase hocus pocus is a garbled version of a phrase from the Latin Eucharist, namely ‘hoc est corpus [meum]’, that is, ‘here is [my] body’ (135, n. 1). It is well-written and engaging, and will hopefully find the wide audience is certainly deserves.

Imperative clauses in generative grammar

Imperative clauses in generative grammar: Studies in honour of Frits Beukema. Ed. by Wim van der Wurff. (Linguistik aktuell/Linguistics today 103.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007. Pp. viii, 352. ISBN  9789027233677. $180 (Hb).

Reviewed by Michael Alvarez-Pereyre, Sorbonne University

Although the morphosyntax of the imperative was fairly well described by encyclopedic grammarians at the beginning of the twentieth century, the first attempts to account for it are usually attributed to early generativists. These first models, however, were simplistic, which prompted the emergence of more elaborate theories throughout the realm of generative linguistics. This volume presents current generative research that examines the imperative in a range of Germanic, Romance, and South Slavic languages.

Wim van der Wurff’s introduction offers an extensive overview of the major morphosyntactic issues addressed in studies of the imperative. His historical perspective, however, is undermined by the lack of clear school boundaries between the numerous authors quoted—a reader unfamiliar with the field might believe a number of (now widely accepted) ideas and examples had come from the generative tradition, when they were originally meant to lambast generative models. However, it is to van der Wurff’s credit that he is more interested in discussing the strength of the arguments—which he does quite brilliantly—than in labeling their authors.

In ‘On the periphery of imperative and declarative clauses in Dutch and German’, Sjef Barbiers argues that a minimal morphosyntactic difference between the two languages accounts for the unequal distribution possibilities of their verbs. In ‘Featuring the subject in Dutch imperatives’, Hans Bennis makes the case for a specified feature for second person contained in the complementizer (C)-position in Dutch simple imperative sentences. In ‘Clitic climbing in Spanish imperatives’, Marcel den Dikken and Mariví Blasco propose comparative and independent justifications for the hypothesis that Spanish simple imperatives are not marked for tense, in contrast with subjunctives.

In ‘Topics in imperatives’, Hilda Koopman examines the contribution and interaction of several factors to explain object presence and position in Dutch imperatives and declaratives. In ‘Embedded imperatives’, Christer Platzack considers Old Scandinavian and its modern descendants and puts forward a set of structural requirements for embedded imperatives  possible in a language. In ‘How to say no and don’t: Negative imperatives in Romance and Germanic,’ Gertjan Postma and Wim van der Wurff examine a correlation between the absence of negated imperatives in certain languages and the fact that in most of these languages, an identical word serves as both anaphoric negator (e.g. no) and sentence negator (e.g. not).

In ‘Analysing word order in the English imperative’, Eric Potsdam proposes to assimilate the syntax of inverted imperatives (e.g. Don’t you help them) with that of superficially similar polar interrogatives. ‘On participial imperatives’, by Johan Rooryck and Gertjan Postma, explores a set of Dutch participial clauses used as directives. In ‘“Inverted” imperatives’, Laura Rupp advances an explanation of subject position variation in emphatic and negated imperatives. Finally, in ‘Pronominal clitics and imperatives in South Slavic’, Olga Mišeska Tomić offers a structural comparison of pronominal clitics in imperatives in Serbian/Croatian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Slovenian. The book concludes with indexes of languages, names, and terms.

It remains tenable that the most profound insights on imperative clauses have been proposed outside the framework of generative grammar. Also, such structuring parameters as intonation, gesture, and context, although increasingly mentioned in generative analyses, still deserve fuller treatment. However, no other school of thought has produced so many and such diverse morphosyntactic studies on what remains a (relatively) poorly-known linguistic object. This book presents a significant ongoing contribution to the field.

Mental spaces in grammar

Mental spaces in grammar: Conditional constructions. By Barbara Dancygier and Eve Sweetser. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Pp. xvii, 295. ISBN 0521844681. $90 (Hb).

Reviewed by Alexander Onysko, University of Innsbruck

Dancygier and Sweetser explore the multiple manifestations of conditional constructions in English. In contrast to truth conditional and modular approaches, D&S emphasize the importance of taking a holistic perspective on conditionals integrating the domains of syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Mental space theory offers an appropriate framework for such an integrative and contextual treatment of conditionality. The essence of the theory as employed by D&S is that conditional constructions involve the building or evocation of a mental space in the protasis of the conditional (P-clause), which forms the background for the construal of the apodosis (Q-clause): if P, (then) Q, for example, if we leave the window open, it will be so hot (11). According to this fundamental understanding of space building and evocation, D&S distinguish between different types of mental spaces in conditional constructions: content types such as predictive conditionals (cf. the example above) and noncontent types like speech-act conditionals (e.g. if you need any help, my name is Ann, p. 110), epistemic conditionals (e.g. if he typed her thesis, he loves her, p. 117), metalinguistic conditionals (if we were speaking Spanish, he would be your uncle, p. 127), and metametaphoric conditionals (e.g. if the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge is the thoroughbred of bridges, the Bay Bridge is the workhorse, p. 132).

The analysis of these different types of conditionals is closely linked to a discussion of the various lexical markers of conditionality and causality (if, if…then, unless, even if, if only, only if, when, since, because). While there is overlap in the functions of these conjunctions, D&S clearly delineate specific properties of the individual elements. Thus, the quality of epistemic stance distinguishes if (neutral or negative epistemic stance) from when (positive epistemic stance). Further distinctions are drawn along the lines of referential uniqueness (even if, only if, then, if only), causality (because, since), temporality (when), and exceptional space building (unless, except if).

Conditionality is also marked by the sequence of verb tenses in protases and apodoses. As the authors cogently argue, verb tense is primarily dependent on epistemic stance and epistemic distance, that is, the likelihood of the realization of the constructed space. Since verb tense in conditionals can also relate to the time frame of the speech act, disambiguation of the function of verb tense is necessary in the context of the speech situation. On a related note, D&S explain the relation between verb tense and the type of conditional construction. Thus, noncontent types such as speech-act conditionals and epistemic conditionals allow a free sequencing of tenses in protases and apodoses, since no space-immanent predictive relationship holds between the two.

This brief sketch of some of the main claims in the book is representative of the topics that D&S deal with in its ten well-balanced chapters. Apart from providing a lucid analysis of the core questions of conditionality, D&S branch out to cover specialized constructions (e.g. should, was to/were to), and they devote a chapter to the expression of conditional meaning in coordinate constructions (e.g. he makes one mistake and he’ll be out, p. 240). Overall, D&S convincingly guide the reader through the realm of English conditionals. Their study is a solid foundation for further crosslinguistic research of conditional constructions from the perspective of mental space theory.