Monthly Archives: October 2010

A Hausa-English dictionary

A Hausa-English dictionary. By Paul Newman. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007. Pp. xxii, 243. ISBN 9780300122466. $65 (Hb).

Reviewed by Wolfgang Schulze, University of Munich

Paul Newman’s A Hausa-English dictionary is the long-awaited counterpart of An English-Hausa dictionary by Roxana Ma Newman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990). N is one of the most renowned Hausa scholars in the world, which by itself assures the overall quality of the dictionary. The dictionary fills a major gap in Hausa linguistics: the standard sources for Hausa lexicography date back to the 1930s and late 1940s and do not meet modern standards of linguistically-oriented lexicography. Hausa is the most prominent Chadic language, spoken by roughly fifty million people in a large area that includes Niger, northern Nigeria, and southwestern Sudan. The dictionary is based upon the Standard Hausa variety of Nigeria (Kano State) but includes data from non-standard dialects cross-referenced to the corresponding entry for Standard Nigerian Hausa.

The dictionary contains more than 10,000 entries extracted from large data bases. Most importantly, the entries go beyond terms associated with the traditional conceptual world of the Hausas to reflect the full range of the languages used for modern techniques, institutions, and infrastructure.

N stresses that the user should be familiar with the fundamentals of Hausa grammar when using the dictionary. However, as he has adopted the format of a ‘grammatical dictionary’, it may be used by those lacking familiarity with Hausa grammar: the individual entries are accompanied by the morphological, syntactic, and idiomatic information necessary for understanding the word’s usage. In addition, the transcription system goes beyond the standard, somewhat defective orthography: It indicates the opposition between retroflex and trilled r and adds diacritics for tones and vowel length. High tone is left unmarked; a falling tone is marked by a circumflex accent; and low tone is shown by a grave accent. Vowel length is indicated by a macron.

The first section of the dictionary details the structure of the head entries. The target language is American English with occasional reference to British English when the entry word seems to be borrowed from this variety. Many entries are accompanied by phrasal examples that effectively illustrate the semantics and can themselves be used as samples of actual Hausa. Of special interest to linguists and language learners are the volume’s comprehensive grammatical indications: gender (m/f in the singular), derivation, plural formation, and complete grammatical information for verbs. In particular, all verbal stems are referred to by their abstract verbal base written in capital letters, followed by sub-entries for the actual verb forms, classified by grade. In this respect, N’s dictionary is also a valuable source for research in semantic shifts associated with each of the eight verbal grades. Valence is usually inferable from the English definition; when necessary, the valence is indicated in the entry. The other grammatical classes indicated are adjectives, numerals, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, determiners, particles, ideophones, and exclamations.

The format of this dictionary is very friendly to the eye, and the impressive amount of data makes it an invaluable source, not only for Hausa itself but for studies in Chadic linguistics, language typology, and semantics. It invites the reader to learn more about this fascinating language, perhaps with the help of the grammar by the same author, The Hausa language: An encyclopedic reference grammar (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).

An introduction to language

An introduction to language. 8th edn. By Victoria Fromkin, Robert Rodman, and Nina Hyams. Boston: Wadsworth, 2006. Pp. 620. ISBN 9781413017731. $127.95 (Hb).

Reviewed by Nikolai Penner, University of Waterloo

The eighth edition of An introduction to language is a substantially updated version of the classic textbook. The authors have preserved their humorous and entertaining, yet clear and professional writing style, which is supplemented by the witty quotations, cartoons, and illustrations that have made the previous editions so successful with both students and instructors. Each of the twelve chapters contains a summary, references for further reading, and exercises.

Part 1, ‘The nature of human language’ (3–70), consists of two chapters. Ch. 1, ‘What is human language?’ (3–34), discusses how human language is different from animal communication. This chapter also introduces linguistic universals and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Ch. 2, ‘Brain and language’ (35–70), describes the structure and functions of the human brain that make language possible and introduces theories of language and brain development.

Part 2, ‘Grammatical aspects of language’ (71–312), contains chapters on morphology (71–114), syntax (115–72), semantics (173–220), phonetics (221–54), and phonology (255–312). Introducing basic linguistic concepts such as morphemes, word classes, linguistic signs, and the principles of word formation, Ch. 3 examines how words are structured and understood. Ch. 4 explores sentences and phrases, their components, and their formal representation. Ch. 5 overviews the study of linguistic meaning, including lexical and phrasal semantics and pragmatics. Chs. 6 and 7, which deal with the sounds of language, present an excellent description of articulatory phonetics, phonological units, and the sound patterns of language.

Part 3, ‘The psychology of language’ (313–409), encompasses chapters on language acquisition (313–62) and language processing (363–409). In Ch. 8, the mechanisms and stages of first language acquisition are discussed and hypotheses of second language acquisition are presented. Ch. 9, which deals with the communication of humans and computers, introduces perception and comprehension and provides an introductory, yet comprehensive, overview of computational linguistics.

Part 4, ‘Language and society’ (408–534), explores sociolinguistics (408–60), historical linguistics (461–504), and writing (505–34). Ch.10, discusses the issues of language varieties, language contact, and societal restrictions on language use; Ch. 11, examines linguistic change; and Ch. 12, which traces the history of writing, presents several modern writing and spelling systems and discusses the skills of reading and spelling in a highly entertaining way.

This book’s comprehensive yet easy-to-read presentation, combined with an extensive glossary and a thorough index, will appeal to a wide audience and will motivate its readers to learn more about languages.

Mental states

Mental states. Volume 1: Evolution, function, nature. Volume 2: Language and cognitive structure. Ed. by Andrea C. Schalley and Drew Khlentzos. (Studies in language companion series 92–93.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007. Pp. xii, 304; x, 362. ISBN 9789027231055. $338 (Hb).

Reviewed by Wolfgang Schulze, University of Munich

The two volumes represent a collection of twenty-nine articles that address the question of mental or cognitive states, or more generally, the conceptual design and functioning of the mind. The overall orientation of these articles concerns communication and language, but the contents transgress this basic target by including questions of human behavior. The volumes do not aim at presenting a common framework applied to different scientific perspectives (e.g. cognitive sciences, archeology, anthropology, artificial intelligence, neurosciences, psychology, philosophy, linguistics). Rather, the editors favor a multitheoretical presentation that addresses the evolution of cognitive states, their functioning, and organization. The first volume offers multiple proposals to approach possible answers to these questions, whereas the second volume concentrates on what is the nature of conceptual classifications of mental states. The general perspective of the individual articles goes from external to internal. That is, from the products of cognition into cognition. The descriptive goal is cognition; human behavioral patterns (including language use) are part of the empirical background, but not goals themselves. This means that the reader will learn, for instance, what language may tell about the mind, but how the mind produces language is not emphasized.

Both volumes commence with an introductory article by the editors that informs about the general layout of the volume and the central claims of the individual articles. The first volume starts with a brief introductory chapter, ‘Mental states: Evolution, function, nature’ (1–10), by the editors. Ch. 2, ‘Lithic design space modeling and cognition in Homo floresiensis’ (11–33) by Mark W. Moore, investigates to what extent lithic technology of Homo floreseinsis indicates high levels of cognitive ability. In Ch. 3, ‘As large as you need and as small as you can: Implications of the brain size of Homo floresiensis’ (35–42), Iain Davidson relates brain size to the role of cognition in evolution. Michael J. Morwood and Dorothea Cogill-Koez continue this line of investigation by analyzing the island of Flores findings with respect to models of human patterns of communication and cognition in Ch. 4, ‘Homo on Flores: Some early implications for the evolution of language and cognition’ (43–73). Pete Mandik, Mike Collins, and Alex Vereschagin use computer simulation to underpin the isomorphy hypothesis in Ch. 5, ‘Evolving artificial minds and brains’ (75–94). According to this hypothesis, evolved representations must carry information about the environment of the animate being that produces these representations. This aspect is further elaborated by Peter Gärdenfors and Mary-Anne Williams in Ch. 6, ‘Multi-agent communication, planning, and collaboration based on perceptions, conceptions, and simulations’ (95–121).

Hiroyuki Nishina’s article, Ch. 7 ‘The modal-logical interpretation of the causation of bodily actions’ (123–52),  uses linguistic data to relate the mental construction of bodily actions to types of skeleton motion. Ch. 8, ‘Do we access object manipulability while we categorize? Evidence from reaction time studies’ (153–70) by Anna M. Borghi, Claudia Bonfiglioli, Paola Ricciardelli, Sandro Rubichi, and Roberto Nicoletti is an experiment-based study of the relation between word related categorization and the activation of haptic motor information. Ch. 9, ‘Speaking without the cerebellum: Language skills in a young adult with near total cerebellar agenesis’ (171–89) written by Alessandro Tavano, Franco Fabbro, and Renato Borgatti, positively answers  the question as to whether language learning is possible with near total cerebellar agenesis. Ch. 10, ‘Ontologies as a cue for the metaphorical meaning of technical concepts’ (191–212) by Helmar Gust, Kai-Uwe Kühnberger, and Ute Schmid is followed by a highly illuminating discussion of ‘Anti-realist assumptions and challenges in philosophy of mind’ (213–32) by Drew Khlentzos . The first volume ends with an article by Arcady Blinov, ‘Vagueness, supertranslatability, and conceptual schemes’ (233–46), a consideration of signed language in ‘Visual representation in a natural communication system: What can signed languages reveal about categorization across different modes of representation?’ (247–74) by Dorothea Cogill-Koez, and finally, Stephen Crain, Takuya Goro, and Utako Minai’s article, ‘Hidden units in child language’ (275–94).

The second volume turns to the problem of language and cognitive structure. As mentioned above, the main concern of the individual articles is to refer to the empirics of language to reveal cognitive structures and categories. The volume contains fifteen articles, starting with the editors’ contribution, ‘Mental categories in natural languages’ (1–10). Cliff Goddard then presents a ‘Culture-neutral metalanguage for mental state concepts’ in Ch. 2 (11–35), followed by a congenial article on ‘Shape and colour in language and thought’ (37–69) by Anna Wierzbicka. Both authors refer to the natural semantics metalanguage program to develop their hypotheses. The same holds for Chs. 4–5, written respectively by Anna Gladkova (‘Universal and language-specific aspects of “propositional attitudes”: Russian vs. English’ (61–83)) and Kyung-Joo Yoon (‘Mental states reflected in cognitive lexemes related to memory: A case in Korean’ (85–107)). Zhengdao Ye stresses the role of the gustative-sensory domain in the routinization of experience in Chinese in Ch. 6, ‘Taste as a gateway to Chinese cognition’ (109–32).

Ch. 7, ‘“Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff or I’ll go on the roff!” thinks the wolf: Spontaneous written narratives by a child with autism’ (133–71) by Lesley Stirling and Graham Barrington is followed by Heather Winskel‘s article, ‘Interaction between language and cognition in language development’ (173–90). Developmental aspects are also addressed by Herbert L. Colston in Ch. 9, ‘What figurative language development reveals about the mind’ (191–212). Joanne Arciuli and Linda Cupples present a study that concerns the question ‘Would you rather “embert a cudsert” or “cudsert an embert”? How spelling patterns at the beginning of English disyllables can cue grammatical category’ (213–37). Brett Baker turns to taxonomic systems in the indigenous Australian languages in Ch. 11, ‘Ethnobiological classification and the environment in Northern Australia’ (239–65). Ruth Singer presents an interesting confrontation of Maung (Australia) and French with respect to pseudorelative perception verbs in Ch. 12, ‘Events masquerading as entities: Pseudorelative perception verb complements in Mawng (Australian) and Romance languages’ (267–88). In Ch. 13, ‘Word and construction as units of categorization: The case of change predicates in Estonian’ (289–310), Renate Pajusalu and Ilona Tragel describe techniques of disambiguating the polysemic semantics of change predicates. Helen Fraser then presents a thoughtful discussion of the relation of words and concepts, focusing on phonology as a diagnostic tool in Ch. 14, ‘Categories and concepts in phonology: Theory and practice’ 311–30. This volume concludes with Roger Wales’ chapter, ‘You can run, but: Another look at linguistic relativity’ (331–50), where he describes the results of a very interesting experiment concerning the linguistic interpretation of perceived motion events in English and Spanish.

Both volumes are accompanied by a name and a subject index. All of the articles included in this set are high-quality contributions to the study of cognition. The two nearly programmatic perspectives taken (i.e. the relation of the brain and cognition and the relation of cognition and language) guarantee that the volumes can be read as companion pieces to the actual debate about cognition. As such, these works represent a nice introduction to studies guided towards the century of cognition.

Baure: An Arawak language of Bolivia

Baure: An Arawak language of Bolivia. By Swintha Danielsen. (Indigenous languages of Latin America 6.) Leiden, The Netherlands: CNWS Publications, 2007. Pp. 478. ISBN 9789057891557. €59,95.

Reviewed by Patrycja Jablonska, Wroclaw University, Sweden

This book is the first comprehensive description of the phonology, morphology, and syntax of Baure, an endangered South-Arawak language spoken in Bolivia. Baure shares many features of other Amazonian languages, such as a scarcity of round vowels and liquids, polysynthesis, an extensive classifier system, and incorporation.

In Ch. 1 (1–32), Swintha Danielsen presents the historical and linguistic context of the language. In Ch. 2 (33–81), D details Baure’s phonemic inventory, phonotactics, and segmental and morphophonological processes. Additionally, D discusses phonological words and phrases.

Morphology is examined in Ch. 3 (83–110). Although predominantly a suffixing language, Baure contains causative, privative, and attributive prefixes as well as a paradigm of argument-marking personal clitics. D contrasts Baure’s valency-affecting (e.g. causative, benefactive, absolute) and aspectual (e.g. departitive, change of state, repetitive) affixes.

In Ch. 4 (111–71), D explores nouns and adjectives. Baure nouns can be obligatorily possessed, optionally possessed, or nonpossessable. Adjectives also fall into three classes: right-bound roots augmented by a classifier, absolute adjectives, and derived adjectives.

Predicate structure is the topic of Ch. 5 (173–216). D surveys verbal and nonverbal predicates as well as equative, attributive, existential, locative, and privative constructions. Additionally, she describes three types of nominalizations, three ways to express possession, and two types of incorporation.

Ch. 6 (217–68) is devoted to the intricacies of Baure’s polysynthetic verbs, which contain affixes that mark valency, aspect, and modality but not tense. Several tables illustrate cooccurrence restrictions.

Preverbal particles that mark intention, repetition, termination, immediacy, certainty, and the progressive are discussed in Ch. 7 (269–99). Closed word classes, such as adverbs, determiners, pronouns, and interjections are examined in Ch. 8 (301–29).

Ch. 9 (331–79) investigates clause-level phenomena such as word order, negations, imperative and interrogative clauses, clausal enclitics, and conversation strategies. Finally, in Ch. 10 (381–430), D describes strategies for clause combining, including coordination by various connectors, relative clauses, marked subordination, predicate chaining, and serial verb constructions.

D has produced an invaluable contribution to the Arawak linguistic literature. Her meticulously documented data will be of use to both typologists and theoretical linguists.

Language and national identity in Asia

Language and national identity in Asia. Ed. by Andrew Simpson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Pp. 352. ISBN 9780199226481. $55.

Reviewed by Muhammad Aurang Zeb Mughal, Durham University

In this volume, Andrew Simpson presents the shaping of identity around language politics at different levels in South, East, and Southeast Asian countries.

Part 1 describes the role of languages in identity processes in South Asian countries like Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Part 2 discusses the examples from East Asia including China, Hong Kong, Japan, North and South Korea, and Taiwan. Part 3 highlights the linguistic issues associated with identity in Southeast Asian countries such as Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Middle East and Central Asia are not covered in this volume as the editor suggests writing separate volumes for these regions due to geopolitical concerns.

Eighteen chapters of the volume are written by sixteen leading scholars on language and society. Each chapter discusses the language politics in an Asian country describing the issues related to the majority, minority, and the official languages. The book does not merely deal with the national identity and official languages at state level. Therefore, this volume functions as a dialogue over culture and sub-cultures from the perspective of power politics in which language plays an important role. It also tries to explain how language has been one of the central issues in the construction of national identity in Asia in the post-colonial era and provides basis or acts as a catalyst for many separatists’ movements even today. On one hand, it explains the influence of Chinese and Sanskrit on the wider parts of these regions of Asia, for instance. On the other hand, it discusses the emergence of comparatively small groups fighting for the economic and political rights differentiating themselves primarily on the basis of language from other groups.

It is obvious that there are other factors associated with identity. So, a broader picture should also be kept in consideration as the volume tries to show the historical and sociopolitical context of the role of languages in shaping the identity of Asian countries. It tells us the stories of the development of languages and their affiliations with certain religions and geographical territories that give rise to particular identities for a group or nation. It explains how many layers of identities could be under the roof of what is called national identity just on the basis of languages.

Twenty one political maps of Asian countries and simple language free of jargons are some of the other features of this book. It would be even better if these maps could illustrate at least languages and their affiliated political boundaries, perhaps in its next edition. Researchers in history, linguistics, Asian studies, anthropology, and sociology will particularly find this volume helpful in understanding the linguistic diversities and the historical role of language in the politics of Asian countries.

John Searle’s philosophy of language

John Searle’s philosophy of language: Force, meaning and mind. Ed. by Savas L. Tsohatzidis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. 312. ISBN 9780521685344. $31.99.

Reviewed by Kanavillil Rajagopalan, State University at Campinas, Brazil

John Searle is undeniably one of the most important contemporary American philosophers. A glowing tribute to Searle’s contribution to the analytic tradition of the philosophy of language, this edited volume comprises eleven original essays by leading philosophers. The essays are grouped into two parts, ‘From mind to meaning’ and ‘From meaning to force’, which represent the two principal themes that have occupied Searle throughout his career. Additionally, an opening chapter by Searle foregrounds what he sees as some of the central issues of philosophy today.

The first three essays in Part 1 address intentionality, the cornerstone of Searle’s philosophy of mind and language. Although he agrees with Searle on the importance of causal self-referentiality in underwriting conscious perceptual states, in ‘Content, mode, and self-reference’, François Recanati takes issue with the idea of assigning self-referentiality to the propositional content of the perceptual state rather than to its psychological mode. Kent Bach, ‘Searle against the world: How can experiences find their objects?’, and Robin Jeshion, ‘Seeing what is there’, both critique Searle’s efforts to deflate the so-called ‘particularity objection’ to his internalist analysis of mental content. In ‘Intentionalism, descriptivism, and proper names’, Wayne A. Davis broadly agrees with Searle’s intentionalist stance on the sense and reference of proper names but argues that intentionalism can only be salvaged from externalist objections if some of its key features are changed. In ‘On the alleged priority of thought over language’, Christopher Gauker calls into question the widely held assumption that conceptual thought has ontological priority over language. Finally, in ‘Rule skepticism: Searle’s criticism of Kripke’s Wittgenstein’, Martin Kusch concludes that Searle has failed to make his case against Saul Kripke’s interpretation of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s views on rule following.

Kepa Korta and John Perry’s ‘How to say things with words’ opens Part 2. Korta and Perry explore how propositional content—distinct from illocutionary force—is standardly characterized in the literature and offer a multipropositional conception. Stephen J. Barker, ‘Semantics without the distinction between sense and force’, and Nicholas Asher, ‘Dynamic discourse semantics for embedded speech acts’ both contest the time-honored wisdom, embraced by Searle, that propositional content is altogether different from illocutionary force, although Barker and Asher develop their arguments on entirely different grounds. In ‘Yes-no questions and the myth of content invariance’, Savas L. Tsohatzidis disputes Searle’s claim that a yes/no question, and its grammatically corresponding assertion, both have propositional content. Finally, Mitchell Green asks ‘How do speech acts express psychological states?’. Green contests the universality of Searle’s claim that for an illocutionary act to be deemed sincere, it must express the speaker’s mental state.

This volume, which is a testament to the vitality of Searle’s philosophy, is certain to be of interest to philosophers and linguists who are interested in the role of intentionality in the explanation of speech acts.

The language and literature reader

The language and literature reader. Ed. by Ronald Carter and Peter Stockwell. New York: Routledge, 2008. Pp. 308. ISBN 9780415410038. $42.95.

Reviewed by Iain Mobbs, University of Cambridge

This volume brings together twenty-seven papers (or extracts) in literary linguistics. The editors Ronald Carter and Peter Stockwell have chosen pieces to demonstrate how texts may be productively analyzed by using the range of tools made available by theoretical linguistics, be it phonology, syntax, cognitive linguistics, or corpus linguistics. The book is organized to reflect the history of this enterprise and to develop the argument that particular linguistic texture is necessary for the interpretation of a literary text.

In Part 1, ‘Foundations’, the first eight papers comprise seminal framings of the interface between literary studies and the different areas of linguistics. For instance, John Sinclair’s paper deals with syntax, and both Roger Fowler’s and Mick Short’s are with respect to discourse analysis. However, it is surprising to find no mention of Halle and Keyser’s (1966) influential work on prosody.

Part 2, ‘Developments’, begins to put the tools introduced in Part 1 to work towards informing the interpretation of literary texts. Some of these papers are strongly interpretive, focusing more on a sensitive reading of the text and less on how linguistics helps inform this, as in Walter Nash’s pragmatic analysis of the opening dialogue to Hamlet. Others are more purely descriptive, closely analyzing a particular linguistic aspect of the text, but paying less attention to how it informs our interpretation, as in Keith Green’s discussion of deixis in Henry Vaughan’s The Retreate.

In keeping with the editors’ expository aims, the final section, Part 3 ‘New directions’, comprises ten more completely realized stylistic analyses. The most successful of them focus on the role of the reader and his or her linguistic ability. The best examples are Peter Stockwell’s own discussion of a surrealist poem in terms of its lexical semantics and Raymond Gibbs’ assessment of the affective values associated with literary texts by metaphorical usage.

The volume closes with an illuminating postscript where the editors argue the case for stylistics as a distinct field, which offers privileged insight into our interpretations of literary texts through detailed and eclectic analysis of their linguistic content. The evidence of the preceding sections largely bears out this conclusion. Indeed, the postscript is so helpful in understanding the unity of what comes before, one wonders whether some part of it could not have been featured in the brief preface.

As a whole, the book is rather heavy on discourse and pragmatic studies and lighter on more structural approaches. This perhaps reflects a failure on the part of structural and psycho- linguists to pursue the implication of their work for literary studies. Neurolinguistic approaches, for instance, are entirely absent (although Philip Davis (2008) has recently made interesting first steps in investigating neural response in readers of Shakespeare). These are avenues that will no doubt be pursued further in due course.

That said, this volume is a successful realization of its stated aims and will now serve as the most complete expression of an increasingly well-defined and fruitful stylistics.


DAVIS, PHILLIP. 2008. Syntax and pathways. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews. 33.265–77.

HALLE, MORRIS, and SAMUEL J. KEYSER. 1966. Chaucer and the study of prosody. College English. 28.187–219.

Traditions of controversy

Traditions of controversy. Ed. by Marcelo Dascal and Han-Liang Chang. (Controversies 4.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007. Pp. xvi, 310. ISBN 9789027218841. $165 (Hb).

Reviewed by Kanavillil Rajagopalan, State University at Campinas, Brazil

The papers contained in this volume were originally presented at Controversy East and West, a conference that took place in Taipei in 2005. The editors justify the change in the title of the volume by explaining that many of these controversies ‘cannot be accommodated by the Procrustean bed East versus West’ (ix). It is only fitting of a volume devoted to controversies that its contributors occasionally dispute one another. Thus, the book opens with ‘Towards a taxonomy of controversies and controversiality: Ancient Greece and China’, in which Geoffrey Lloyd takes issue with Marcelo Dascal’s triadic classification of polemics into discussion, dispute, and controversy. Lloyd argues that cultural differences undercut the alleged universality of Dascal’s thesis.

Part 1, ‘Ancient traditions: East and West’, includes Hanina Ben-Menahem’s ‘Controversy in Jewish law: The Talmud’s attitude to controversy’, which explores controversy in Jewish tradition with an emphasis on the Talmud. In ‘Debates and rhetoric in Sumer’, Simonetta Ponchia delves into ancient Sumerian texts unearthed during excavations in Mesopotamia. Han-Liang Chang revisits controversy in ancient China with ‘Persuasion in the pre-Qin China: The Great Debate revisited’. Chang contrasts the debate over ming ‘name’ and shi ‘substance’ with a similar dispute in Western philosophy over logic and rhetoric. Peng Yi’s ‘“In proper form”: Xunzi’s theory of xinger’ addresses how the ancient Chinese philosopher Xunzi’s (ca. 313–238 BC) polemical stance on human nature cast a shadow on China’s intellectual history well into the modern age. In ‘The right, duty and pleasure of debating in Western culture’, Adelino Cattani asks ‘Is controversy a just war of words or is it just a war of words?’ (125), answering that ‘a “controversial question” is an ambiguous formulation which can mean “ignorance and irresolution” as well as “prudence and criticism”’ (125).

Part 2 concentrates on ‘Medieval and Early Modern traditions: Logic, dialectic, and rhetoric in controversy’. In ‘The medieval disputatio’, Olga Weijers explores the tradition of scholastic disputation that centers round the questio ‘questions’ that arise from the reading of basic texts. Throughout the rise of universities in Europe, the questio constituted an intellectual practice that contributed to both teaching and research. In ‘Disputing about disputing: The medieval procedure of positio and its role in a dispute over the nature of logic and the foundations of metaphysics’, Christopher J. Martin discusses the Great Schism, possibly the most important controversy in medieval Christianity, which led to the separation of the Greek Orthodox Church and Roman Catholicism. In ‘Antibarabarous contra pseudophilosophers: Metaphors in an early modern controversy’, Cristina Marras discusses Mario Nizoli (i.e. the Antibarbarous) and Antonio Maria Conti di Maioragio (i.e. the Pseudophilosopher). Part 2 closes with Merio Scattola’s ‘Dialectics, topology and practical philosophy in early modern times’, which discusses the great interest in the practical disciplines of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Part 3 focuses on ‘Modern traditions: The rise of scientific disciplines’. João Lopes Alves discusses ‘Legal controversy vs. scientific and philosophical controversies’, and Amos Morris-Reich investigates the foundation of sociology in ‘The controversy over the foundation of sociology and its object: Simmel’s form versus Durkheim’s collectivity’. Chaoqun Xie explores ‘Controversies about politeness’. In ‘Controversies over controversies: An ontological perspective on the place of controversy in current historiography’, Ofer Gal details the controversy over the very place of controversy in current historiography. The final paper, ‘Traditions of controversy and conflict resolution: Can past approaches help to solve present conflicts?’, by Marcelo Dascal, contrasts Jewish, Muslim, and Christian views of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The contributors’ insightful analyses and perspectives will make this a useful volume for those interested in controversies across traditions and through the ages.

Changing pedagogy

Changing pedagogy: Analysing ELT teachers in China. By Xin-min Zheng and Chris Davison. New York: Continuum, 2008. Pp. xii, 220. ISBN 9780826488763. $120 (Hb).

Reviewed by Martha Michieka, East Tennessee State University

China’s growing interaction with the rest of the world during the twenty-first century has led to an increasing demand for the use of the English language. In response to the increased demands, the government has implemented several new policies regulating the curriculum. This book, consisting of eight chapters, examines the effects of the newly implemented curriculum. In Ch.1, Xin-min Zheng and Chris Davison set the background by giving the historical context review of English language teaching (ELT) in China.

Ch. 2, ‘ELT as methodology’, defines ELT methodology and shows the incredible transformation ELT methods have undergone in the last century. These ELT methods have several implications on the pedagogy of Chinese secondary school teachers of English, as is discussed in the chapters that follow. In Ch. 3, ‘Pedagogy in ELT’, the authors challenge the assumption that pedagogy and methodology can be used interchangeably. They argue that pedagogy is an internal process focusing on the teacher while methodology is an external process that encompasses the system or range of methods used in teaching.

Chs. 4–6 explore how three teachers representing three generations of ELT in China negotiate the changing times in their language classrooms. Ch. 4, ‘Mr. Yang’s pedagogy’, shows the decisions Mr. Yang, a fifty-five year old teacher with over thirty years of teaching experience, makes in his language classroom. According to Mr. Yang, grammar and vocabulary should be the priorities in teaching and learning. In Ch. 5, Miss Wu, a recent college graduate, is portrayed as one who believes that language should be used for communication. She prioritizes listening and speaking in her instruction. However, she has to negotiate between the need for spoken English and the rote memorizing for examination purposes. Ch. 6 examines the teaching pedagogy of Ms. Ma, a thirty-five year old teacher with twelve years of teaching experience. Ms. Ma believes that grammar, reading, and translation should be given the highest priority.

Ch. 7, ‘The interplay of complex forces’ examines three factors that create conflicts for English language teachers and how the teachers try to cope. These factors include external forces (e.g. the curriculum and standardized examinations), internal forces (e.g. teacher training and personal experiences), and situated forces (e.g. the collegial network and the school culture). The final chapter, ‘Conclusions and implications’, revisits these three factors and offer suggestions for improving pedagogy and practice in the schools. The authors close by proposing directions for future research.

This insightful and very readable book covers core concerns of English language teaching in China. The issues raised here, however, are not just limited to China but can be applied to any foreign language teaching context. Language teachers interested in curriculum development and implementation will find this book to be an invaluable resource.

Nominal determination

Nominal determination: Typology, context constraints, and historical emergence. Ed. by Elisabeth Stark, Elisabeth Leiss, and Werner Abraham. (Studies in language companion series 89.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007. Pp. viii, 370. ISBN 9789027230997. $180 (Hb).

Reviewed by Agnieszka Pysz, Adam Mickiewicz University

Most of the thirteen papers in this volume were presented at the workshop Evolution and Functions of Nominal Determination held at the twenty-seventh annual meeting of the German Association for Linguistics (German Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft) in 2005 in Cologne, Germany.

Part 1, ‘Synchrony – And its implications for diachrony’, opens with Werner Abraham’s ‘Discourse binding: DP and pronouns in German, Dutch, and English’. Elisabeth Stark examines typological correlations in systems of nominal determination in ‘Gender, number, and indefinite articles: About the “typological inconsistency” of Italian’. Elisabeth Leiss analyzes ‘Covert patterns of definiteness/indefiniteness and aspectuality in Old Icelandic, Gothic, and Old High German’. She provides a diachronic overview of the relevant facts and interprets them in light of Abraham’s centering theory. Brigitte L. M. Bauer traces the development of the definite article in ‘The definite article in Indo-European: Emergence of a new grammatical category?’. Agnes Jäger’s ‘“No” changes: On the history of German indefinite determiners in the scope of negation’ presents the diachronic development of German indefinite determination in the scope of negation.

Part 2, ‘Synchrony – Ontological and typological characteristics’, begins with Laurel Smith Stvan’s examination of ‘The functional range of bare singular count nouns in English’. In ‘The definite article in non-specific object noun phrases: Comparing French and Italian’, Tanja Kupisch and Christian Koops demonstrate that French typically uses the indefinite article in nonspecific noun phrases, whereas Italian allows for the definite variant. Dagmar Bittner investigates the ‘Early functions of definite determiners and DPs in German first language acquisition’, taking into account sentence-internal and sentence-external functions.

In Part 3, ‘Diachrony – Universally unified characteristics?’, Werner Abraham explores ‘The discourse-functional crystallization of DP from the original demonstrative’. Abraham demonstrates that the definite article emerged from the determiner homonym. Based on the discussion of determinerless noun phrases that function as subjects of passive sentences in Old Catalan and Old Spanish, Anna Bartra-Kaufmann makes a number of claims regarding the structure of ‘Determinerless noun phrases in Old Romance passives’. ‘On the structure and development of nominal phrases in Norwegian’, by Terje Lohndal, focuses on the development of the suffixed definite article. In ‘The emergence of DP from a perspective of ontogeny and phylogeny: Correlation between DP, TP and aspect in Old English and first language acquisition’, Fuyo Osawa notes similarities between diachronic change (i.e. phylogeny) and first language acquisition (i.e. ontogeny). Finally, in ‘Demonstratives and possessives: From Old English to present-day English’, Johanna L. Wood investigates the syntactic status and the development of three nominal word order patterns based on diachronic data from English.

Overall, this book provides a valuable overview of the fundamental research questions of nominal determination. One of its strengths is the contributors’ mixed theoretical-empirical viewpoints.