Monthly Archives: December 2010

Indo-European language and culture

Indo-European language and culture: An introduction. 2nd edn. By Benjamin W. Fortson, IV. (Blackwell textbooks in linguistics 19.) Maldon, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Pp. xx, 542. ISBN 9781405188968. $57.95.

Reviewed by Joseph F. Eska, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

The second edition of Benjamin W. Fortson IV’s deservedly much-heralded introductory textbook of Indo-European linguistics is not a complete reworking of the first edition, but it contains revised and/or extended treatments of a number of subjects, including the trimoraic vowels of Balto-Slavic and Germanic, the Balto-Slavic accentual system, the accent-ablaut classes reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European, and the Proto-Indo-European middle voice. The chapters treating individual language families have all been revised and expanded, those on Albanian, Armenian, Balto-Slavic, and Iranian considerably so. The new edition laudably includes images of scripts and important inscriptions.

The first two of the twenty chapters (1–52) establish the extent of the Indo-European language family, introduce the reader to the workings of the most powerful tool for the diachronic analysis of phonology and morphology—the comparative method—and discuss what can be inferred about Proto-Indo-European culture from linguistics and archeology. F then describes the broad scholarly consensus on the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European phonology and morphology in considerable detail (53–151), followed by a shorter treatment of certain syntactic features (152–69). The remainder of the volume is devoted to the individual language families.

Each chapter is presented clearly and concludes with suggestions for further reading, a list of key terms for the student, and exercises. The chapters on the language families also include samples of texts with linguistic discussion and a list of reconstructed etyma/roots divided into broad semantic fields, e.g. ‘Food and agriculture’, ‘The body’, ‘Natural environment’, and ‘Position and motion.’

A surprisingly large number of handbooks of Indo-European linguistics have appeared in recent years, but F’s volume, though perhaps not the most detailed, is far and away the best for classroom use. Any student who works through it carefully will be well prepared to go on to more advanced studies.

The semantics of the future

The semantics of the future. By Bridget Copley. (Outstanding dissertations in linguistics.) New York: Routledge, 2009. Pp. xiv, 156. ISBN 9780415971164. $108 (Hb).

Reviewed by Ana Bravo, University of Granada

The aim of this bookis to give a semantics for the following future-referring forms in English: the futurates, both progressive and simple (John is coming tomorrow vs. John comes tomorrow), the will future, and the be going to future. Futurates are studied in Ch. 2 (15–58); Ch. 3 (59–95) deals with will and be going to futures; and Ch. 4 (97–136) examines how these constructions, especially futures, behave in conditionals. Ch. 1, ‘Introduction’ (1–14), sets forth the standard description of the theoretical background, and some of the remaining questions are presented in Ch. 5, ‘Conclusion’ (137–43). Data from the following languages are also considered: French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Tohono O’odham, and Turkish.

The starting point is the assumption that the speaker, when talking about the future, does so with a high level of confidence. Hence, according to the author, despite the fact that there is some indeterminacy about the future, the only source of modality comes from the intentions on the part of the entity presupposed to have control over what happens. That is, it is a bouletic, not an epistemic modality.

As a result, all of the future constructions are considered modal in essence and futurity is given a modal analysis. Furthermore, the four constructions share the same modal (allb), which involves universal quantification over a metaphysical modal base and two ordering sources, bouletic and inertial. The futurate operator allb presupposes (the direction presupposition) that there is a director d that is able to make a valid plan, but asserts (the commitment assertion) that such a director is committed to the future-proposition p, because d has the ability to see that p happens. The bouletic ordering source is necessary as long as there is an animate director committed to p and covers what is called intention in the literature. But future constructions are also characteristically attributed a very strong prediction sense. In C’s proposal the inertial ordering source is responsible for those cases in which the director is not animate. The future-modal definition proposed also accounts for the facts regarding the law of the excluded middle.

Finally, an aspectual operator at the top of the future-modal is responsible for the differences in meaning between progressive and non-progressive constructions. Progressive futurates and be going to (also progressives) select for a progressive operator (Somet), while simple futurates and futures select for the generic operator Allt. In addition, simple futures can select for no aspectual operator (bare simple future). Differences between generic will and bare will are aspectual, as only the former presents the subinterval property. Other differences between the various future constructions are also examined.

These aspectual operators affect which words the modal quantifies over, as shown by the different scope relations available in future conditionals, which in turn affect the temporal interpretation of their antecedents and consequents. Hence, two types of conditionals are to be distinguished.

Apart from formal semanticists interested in modality, aspect, and tense relations, specifically in conditional sentences, this book is a must for scholars of future-referring constructions in any language and any theoretical framework.

The life and death of Texas German

The life and death of Texas German. By Hans C. Boas. (American speech: A quarterly of linguistic usage 93.) Durham, NC: Duke University Press for the American Dialect Society, 2009. Pp. 144. ISBN 9780822366584. $20 (Hb).

Reviewed by Peter Freeouf, Chiang Mai University

The German language has been spoken in North America since the seventeenth century.

Texas German is a variety of American German that has attracted extensive scholarly attention, including a linguistic atlas. Hans Boas’ book is the latest major contribution to the study of this variety of American German.

An innovative feature of this book is that all excerpts from interviews conducted in the dialect are referenced to archived recordings at the digitized Texas German Dialect Archive, which can be accessed for free online.

Boas focuses on the variety of Texas German spoken in and around New Braunfels in the western part of the Texas Hill Country. Until the first decades of the twentieth century the Texas Hill Country, extending south and southwest from Austin to San Antonio, was heavily German-speaking. Predominance of German ended with US entry in the First World War, when laws against instruction in non-English languages in the schools began to be rigidly enforced and the public use of German was stigmatized as disloyal and un-American. The resulting loss of prestige quickly led to a generational break in transmission of the language, with the last generation of fluent speakers being born between the early 1920s and the late 1940s.

Ch. 1, ‘Introduction’ (1–32), summarizes the history of research in Texas German, and the methodology and concerns of the present study. Ch. 2, ’Sociohistorical context’ (33–75), describes the history of the German-speaking settlers and their descendants in the Texas Hill Country and the fate of their language as a Sprachinsel (‘speech island’) in the sea of North American English.

Ch. 3, ‘Dialect contact and new dialect formation’ (76–99), is concerned with research into varieties of German spoken outside German-speaking central Europe and with issues of dialect contact and koineization in the formation of new dialects. B proposes that the development of Texas German can best be understood by using Peter Trudgill’s three-stage model of new dialect formation, whereby Texas German has reached a stage between stages two and three, and hence does not yet qualify as a unified new dialect.

In Ch. 4, ‘Developments in Texas German phonology’ (100–73), and Ch. 5, ‘Morphosyntactic developments in Texas German’ (174–238), the author compares his data to research from several decades ago to determine the changes that have occurred in the Texas German of the New Braunfels area. B’s database is much larger and more extensive than those of previous studies. The phonological and morphosyntactic generalizations for the Texas German studied in the book are based on selected phonological and morphosyntactic features well-known in German dialect research. The features used in this study include unrounding of front rounded vowels, affricated voiceless stops, the case system, and word order.

Ch. 5, ‘Language death and language maintenance’ (239–82), explores why Texas German has become ‘critically endangered’ and will be extinct by the middle of the twenty-first century. From his research into language attitudes among Texas German speakers, B concludes that while the last generation of Texas German speakers has a positive attitude towards Texas German, they paradoxically express reluctance to support concrete measures to promote the language. B attributes this reluctance to the long-time stigmatization of German in Texas.

Ch 6, ‘Conclusion’ (283–96) sums up various points. Texas German is dying out so rapidly that its structures have not had sufficient time to show features commonly associated with language obsolescence and approaching death. The last generation of aging native speakers use the language less and in ever fewer contexts. No coherent new variety of Texas German has had time to emerge. The task remaining is to collect and archive as much as possible of the language as a historical record and as the basis of further research.

The book finishes with an extensive bibliography and a very detailed index. Numerous clearly laid-out figures and tables as well as reader-friendly maps appear throughout the text. Typos, mistakes, missing bibliographic entries, and other editorial shortcomings mar but do not lessen the value of this informative and important addition to the study of the varieties of German spoken outside of Central Europe.

The English language

The English language: A historical introduction. 2nd edn. By Charles Barber, Joan C. Beal, and Philip A. Shaw. (Cambridge approaches to linguistics.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. xiii, 306. ISBN 9780521670012. $30.99.

Reviewed by Marc Pierce, University of Texas at Austin

This is a revised and updated edition of a book originally published in 1993 and reprinted several times. Over the course of eleven chapters it presents the history of English in a form suitable for use in undergraduate courses. There are also some electronic resources (exercises and sound files) available at <>.

The first two chapters, ‘What is language’ (1–30) and ‘The flux of language’ (31–56), set the stage for the rest of the book by introducing the basic concepts of general and historical linguistics, respectively. They are followed by chapters on ‘The Indo-European languages’ (57–84), which covers issues like the Indo-European homeland, the vocabulary of Proto-Indo-European, and the classification of the Indo-European languages, and on ‘The Germanic languages’ (85–104), which focuses largely on the classification of the Germanic languages and the structure of Proto-Germanic.

The next chapter, ‘Old English’ (105–36), outlines the structure and vocabulary of Old English as well as sound changes in Old English, and discusses issues like the preservation of Old English. This is followed by ‘Norsemen and Normans’ (137–60), which deals with the impact of Scandinavian and French on English. The book then offers chapters on ‘Middle English’ (161–84), ‘Early Modern English’ (185–210), and ‘Late Modern English’ (211–38). These three chapters all follow the same general structure as the chapter on Old English, addressing a number of issues relevant to the structure of and linguistic developments within these stages of English.

The final two chapters of the book are ‘English as a world language’ (239–64), and ‘English today and tomorrow’ (265–81). These chapters offer discussions of English around the world and of some ongoing and possible additional changes in current English, respectively. The volume concludes with suggestions for further reading, an extensive bibliography, and an index.

I must confess to mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it contains a great deal of useful information and is very readable, and the accompanying electronic resources certainly enhance its value. On the other hand, there are some slips in the earlier sections of the book that should have been caught in editing: e.g. a common alternative term for ‘Grimm’s Law’ is ‘the first sound shift’, not ‘the first sound shifting’ (97, 100), and some phenomena should probably have been treated in more detail (e.g. the classification of the Germanic languages). Some of the works cited are no longer the most current or valuable studies available, and there are some odd gaps in the bibliography (e.g. J.P. Mallory’s work on the Indo-European homeland should have been cited in that connection). These issues aside, the book remains a useful and handy resource on the history of English.

New perspectives on historical Latin syntax

New perspectives on historical Latin syntax, vol. 1: Syntax of the sentence. Ed. by Philip Baldi and Pierluigi Cuzzolin. (Trends in linguistics: Studies and monographs 180.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2009. Pp. xxii, 561. ISBN 9783110190823. $179 (Hb).

Reviewed by Joseph F. Eska, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

This first of a three-volume set opens with a ‘Prolegomena’ (1–17) in which the editors set out the history and rationale of the project and explain its functional-typological approach. It is followed by Pierluigi Cuzzolin and Gerd Haverling’s ‘Syntax, sociolinguistics, and literary genres’ (19–64), which explicates how texts of different genres over an extended period of time provide insights into syntactic change from a sociolinguistic perspective.

The next two chapters focus on external interference from Greek and Semitic, respectively.  Gualtiero Calboli, ‘Latin syntax and Greek’ (65–193), finds that Greek influence upon Latin syntax is wholly literary in scope, while Gonzalo Rubio, ‘Semitic influence in the history of Latin syntax’ (195–239), demonstrates that Semitic influence lies principally within the realm of ‘translationese’, focusing, as one would expect, upon translations of the Bible.

The remaining chapters deal with various aspects of sentential syntax, especially on the discourse and pragmatic levels. Brigitte L. M. Bauer, ‘Word order’ (241–316), observes that proto-Indo-European clausal configuration has been reliably reconstructed as SOV, i.e. with left-branching complements, and examines the development of right-branching structures and their pragmatic motivations within the history of Latin. I find the emphasis on the distinction between left- and right-branching structures excessive; here especially one misses the decision to eschew generative approaches in the volume.

Hannah Rosén, ‘Coherence, sentence modification and sentence-part modification—the contribution of particles’ (317–441), is an absorbing and wonderfully thorough treatment of sentential particles, in which the author reviews the entire roster of particles and discusses their usage throughout the history of Latin across a broad range of textual genres, with special reference to the organization of information. I also appreciate the extensive comparisons with other Indo-European languages. This chapter is the highlight of the volume for me.

In ‘Coordination’ (443–87), M. Esperanza Torrego outlines the distinctions between copulative, disjunctive, and adversative coordination, and traces the connectives and their patterns of usage through the history of Latin into Romance. Finally, H. Paul Brown, Brian D. Joseph, and Rex E. Wallace, ‘Questions and answers’ (489–530), provide the first extended description of the syntax of questions and answers not only in the history of Latin but also in the Sabellic languages of ancient Italy (with a few tentative remarks on proto-Indo-European). They note at the outset that one might expect questions to have carried a special intonational contour, which, of course, is not recoverable. It is noted that the syntax of questions is remarkably stable throughout the history of Latin, except for the loss of the interrogative clitic ne in polar questions. Answers on the other hand do not bear any features that mark them as a formal category, so one variously finds affirmative replies cast as echo responses or containing affirmative or emphatic particles, while negative replies contain the negator or negative particles.

All of the chapters in this volume are copiously illustrated with textual examples from Early Latin up to Late Latin or beyond. Regardless of one’s approach to the study of diachronic syntax, it is an excellent starting point to find out the range across which various syntactic phenomena are attested.

De un discurso al otro

De un discurso al otro: Rasgos discursivos de varios subgéneros. By Heraclia Castellón Alcalá. (Linguistics edition 74.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2009. Pp. 115. ISBN 9783895865008. $63.28.

Reviewed by Louisa Buckingham, Sabanci University Writing Center, Turkey

This monograph investigates discursive features of different types of spoken and written discourse in Spanish. Each of the book’s five chapters is dedicated to a particular text type: political discourse, newspaper columns, administrative texts, popular song (the Spanish copla), and monologues. In the first three chapters, the discussion focuses on forms of argumentation.

The first chapter studies the use of argumentation in its quintessential form, political discourse, usinga speech given during the Second Republic by Clara Campoamor in favor of female suffrage.  Turning to argumentation in journalism, in her second chapter, Castellón Alcalá investigates the textual organization of opinion articles in newspapers using two texts published in leading Spanish dailies.

The author has previously published textual analyses of administrative texts, and Ch. 3, on administrative language, is perhaps the best developed section of the book. In addition to examining the linguistic expression of certain textual functions (e.g. justification, motivation, presentation of facts), she extracts typical linguistic chunks and characteristic grammatical forms.

The final two chapters examine two spoken genres of mass diffusion. In her study of the copla of the 1940s and 1950s, the author focuses on the socio-cultural contribution of this musical genre. Due to the high level of figurative language used in the copla, her study verges on literary analysis. In her final chapter, the author investigates the monologue as used in comedies. She provides a brief summary of how the monologue has been conceived in recent scholarly literature and then discusses its various discursive features with an ample number of examples.

The book is a slim volume, with around twenty pages dedicated to each of the five genres. In most chapters the analysis is based on a restricted corpus of data: the analysis of political discourse is based on a single text and that of journalistic language on two; likewise, the chapter on administrative texts appears to use essentially two texts, although it likely draws upon data from previous work. The study has certain limitations, but the author’s approach serves as a model of analysis for further research on discourse characteristics. The book may be of interest to teachers working with high school students in a Spanish native speaker context or in a second language context with undergraduate students of Spanish.

Minimalist inquiries into child and adult language acquisition

Minimalist inquiries into child and adult language acquisition: Case studies across Portuguese. Ed. by Acrisio Pires and Jason Rothman. (Studies on language acquisition 35.)  Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2009. Pp. viii, 354. ISBN 9783110215342. $168 (Hb).

Reviewed by Dimitrios Ntelitheos, United Arab Emirates University

This is a selection of papers discussing the first (L1), second (L2), and third (L3) language acquisition of Portuguese. Acrisio Pires and Jason Rothman provide a description of the field with sections that explain the minimalist program, the relationship between language development and microparametric linguistic variation, language change and language development, and how all these issues interrelate when applied to a Portuguese context. The editors begin with this work in ‘Child and adult language acquisition, linguistic theory and (microparametric) variation’ (5–34). The remainder of this book is divided into two sections that each focus on child and adult language acquisition.

Part 1 ‘First language acquisition’ contains articles about child language development. Leticia Sicuro Corrêa, in ‘Bootstrapping language acquisition from a minimalist standpoint: On the identification of ɸ-features in Brazilian Portuguese’ (35–62), discusses how a sensitivity to morphophonological alternations and the presumption of agreement between syntactically related elements are necessary requirements for identifying phi-features in Brazilian Portuguese. João Costa and Maria Lobo show in ‘Clitic omission in the acquisition of European Portuguese: Data from comprehension’ (63–84) that children understand the null object construction and are less restrictive than adults in that they accept null objects in island contexts. In ‘Speculations about the acquisition of wh-questions in Brazilian Portuguese’ (85–104), Elaine Grolla contrasts the development of wh-questions in Sao Paulo (SPP) and Bahia (BAP) Brazilian Portuguese. While SPP children start with wh-movement, BAP children seem to start with in situ questions. She argues that the latter are actually cases of movement and in situ structures are in fact costly and are predicted to emerge late. The discussion returns to null objects in Brazilian Portuguese, in ‘Aspect and the acquisition of null objects in Brazilian Portuguese’ (105–28) by Ruth Vasconcellos Lopes. The author shows a drastic drop of imperative forms at around 2;1 with simultaneous anaphoric null objects at the onset of a perfective/imperfective distinction and the emergence of aspectual adverbs. The author claims that this is due to the emergence of an Asp projection.

In ‘Acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese in late childhood: Implications for syntactic theory and language change’ (129–54) by Acrisio Pires and Jason Rothman, the authors implement a morphological recognition task (MRT) to show that while different age groups show sensitivity to finite and non-inflected non-finite morphology, significant differences are found with respect to inflected infinitives across the different groups. Only the thirteen to fifteen year-old group exhibited a target-like performance while the ten to twelve year old group failed in this task. Finally, Ana Lúcia Santos argues against earlier approaches that differentiate understanding of ellipsis contexts between adults and children in her article, ‘Early VP ellipsis: Production and comprehension evidence’ (155–76). The results obtained from a comprehension test indicate that children can use the context successfully to interpret omitted material.

Part 2 ‘Adult and second language acquisition’ contains articles about older learners of Portuguese. Jennifer Cabrelli-Amaro, Michael Iverson, and Tiffany Judy, in their article ‘Informing adult acquisition debates: N-Drop at the initial state of L3 Brazilian Portuguese’ (177–96), show that adults acquire both new interpretable and uninterpretable nominal features by the stable state of L2 acquisition and these features can be transferred at the initial stage of L3 acquisition. Maria Fruit Bell probes the syntax-discourse interface in European Portuguese in ‘Divergence at the syntax-discourse interface: Evidence from the L2 acquisition of contrastive focus in European Portuguese’. She demonstrates that when L2 learners are faced with optionality, they will either employ only the L1 option and use it as the main option, or they will acquire and use the L2 option but still maintain the L1 option as a possibility. Michael Iverson, in ‘Competing SLA hypotheses assessed: Comparing heritage and successive Spanish bilinguals of L3 Brazilian Portuguese’ (221–44), tests knowledge of gender agreement and noun-drop in two distinct groups: heritage speakers and speakers who were exposed first to English and acquired Spanish later. The results indicate that both groups exhibit native-like behavior and thus, support the full access hypothesis of L3 acquisition.

In ‘Brazilain Portuguese and the recovery of lost clitics through schooling’ (245–72), Mary A. Kato, Sonia L. Cyrino, and Vilma Reche Corrêa find that pre-school children and illiterate speakers lack third person clitics but at the end of their schooling, seem to recover clitics in their written texts. The acquisition of clitics in L2 European Portuguese is discussed by Ana Maria Madeira and Maria Francisca Xavier in ‘The acquisition of clitic pronouns in L2 European Portuguese’ (273–300). The authors show that both Germanic and Romance language learners are aware very early of the existence of different patterns of clitic placement, although the conditions that control these patterns are not fully acquired. Finally, Silvina Montrul, Rejane Dias, and Ana Thomé-Williams, in ‘Subject expression in the non-native acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese’ (301–26), discuss subject expression in L2 Brazilian Portuguese. Their results show that subjects with pro-drop and non-pro drop L1s acquire the system with no particular problems, indicating that a strong version of the full-transfer hypothesis is not entirely consistent with the data. A. Carlos Quicoli concludes this volume in ‘Afterword’ (327–40) by summarizing the significance of both the theoretical findings and experimental methodology mentioned in the papers collected for this volume.

This volume is an important contribution to the field of first, second, and third language acquisition. People interested in the application of minimalist theories in language acquisition as well as researchers in the fields of language development and morphosyntax can gain useful insights from this collection.

Evolution of communicative flexibility

Evolution of communicative flexibility: Complexity, creativity, and adaptability in human and animal communication. Ed. by D. Kimbrough Oller and Ulrike Griebel. (Vienna series in theoretical biology.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008. Pp. x, 356. ISBN 9780262151214. $50 (Hb).

Reviewed by Iris F. Levitis, University of Rostock

This edited volume addresses the question ‘What is communicative flexibility and what evolutionary conditions can produce it?’ (4). The editors D. Kimbrough Oller and Ulrike Griebel have compiled research emerging from a workshop at the Konrad Lorenz Institute that grapples with this question that lies at the intersection of evolutionary biology and linguistics. Section 1 ‘Introduction’ consists of the editors’ introduction to this work, ‘Signal and functional flexibility in the emergence of communication’ (3–6). This volume is divided into four subsequent areas: cross-species comparisons, flexibility, the exploration of flexibility, and different approaches to modeling flexibility.

The contributors in Section 2, ‘Cross-species perspectives on forces and patterns of flexibility in communication’, attempt to understand similarities and differences in developmental patterns. Griebel and Oller begin in Ch. 2, ‘Evolutionary forces favoring communicative flexibility’ (9–40), by providing working definitions of signals, flexibility, and function, and outline the factors that might cause communicative flexibility. Ronald J. Schusterman reviews and summarizes the literature that supports pinniped vocal learning and offers additional evidence based on harbor seal and walrus studies of vocal learning in Ch. 3 ‘Vocal learning in mammals with special emphasis on pinnipeds’ (41–70). The species examined in the next article, ‘Contextually flexible communication in nonhuman primatespeds’ (71–92), by Charles T. Snowdon are nonhuman primates. In this chapter, the author summarizes the literature on developmental and adult communicative flexibility. Kurt Hammerschmidt and Julia Fischer observe the differences between nonhuman primates’ and humans’ ability to produce sounds in Ch. 5, ‘Constraints in primate vocal production’ (93–120). Martine Hausberger, Laurence Henry, Benoît Testé, and Stéphanie Barbu conclude this section in Ch. 6. In their article, ‘Contextual sensitivity and bird song: A basis for social life’ (121–138), the authors focus on song birds and explore the social context of their vocal production.

Section 3 ‘The role of flexibility and communicative complexity in the evolution of language’ switches attention to the development of communicative skills within humans. Oller and Griebel provide an overview of the developmental stages of human communication in Ch. 7, ‘Contextual flexibility in infant vocal development and the earliest steps in the evolution of language’ (141–68). In Ch. 8, ‘Scoalds for babbling: Innateness and learning in the emergence of contextually flexible vocal production in human infantsal lifeo’ (169–92), Michael J. Owren and Michael H. Goldstein put forward a babbling-scaffold hypothesis for the development of language in human infants. Brian MacWhinney suggests in Ch. 9, ‘Cognitive precursors to language’ (193–214), that human communicative ability is a result of the convergence of bipedalism, manual control, neoteny, and social bonding. Kim Sterelny considers how language evolved in the way that it did in Ch. 10, ‘Language and niche construction’ (215–32).

Section 4 ‘Underpinnings of communicative control: Foundations for flexible communication’ pursues two factors that might have contributed to the development of human communication systems. Josep Call illustrates the flexibility with which apes use gestures despite the limitations of vocal production in Ch. 11 ‘How apes use gestures: The issue of flexibility’ (235–52). Ch. 12, ‘The role of play in the evolution and ontogeny of contextually flexible communication’ (253–78), written by Stan Kuczaj and Radhika Makecha, reflects on the role of play in the development of communication.

In the final section, Section 5 ‘Modeling of the emergence of complexity and flexibility in communication’, a mathematical approach is taken to theorize the development of communicative flexibility. Brenda McCowan, Laurance Doyle, Allison B. Kaufman, Sean Hanser, and Curt Burgess apply both information theory and the hyperspace analog to language (HAL) model to animal communication in Ch. 13, ‘Detection and estimation of complexity and contextual flexibility in nonhuman animal communication’ (281–304). In this article, the authors interpret bottlenose dolphin whistles in order to match the behavior with the corresponding sound. Robert F. Lachlan scrutinizes bird song versatility to determine the possible purposes behind its flexibility in Ch. 14, ‘The evolution of flexibility in bird song’ (305–36). Lastly, Gert Westermann proposes a perception-action model to account for the gradual development of the articulatory system of human infants, and ultimately the mapping between perceived and produced sounds, in Ch. 15 ‘Development and evolution of speech sound categories’ (327–46).

Extensive reading in English language teaching

Extensive reading in English language teaching. Ed. by Andrzej Cirocki. (LINCOM studies in second language teaching 8.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2009. Pp, 635. ISBN 9783929075663. $124.88 (Hb).

Reviewed by Dennis Ryan, Raleigh, NC

Education researchers, constantly scrutinizing teaching methodology to enhance the efficacy of student learning, have rejected ineffective, traditional teaching methods in favor of newer ones that focus on cognition, affective response, and motivation. Editor Andrzej Cirocki and the contributing scholars offer an alternative approach to foreign-language and second-language learning that emphasizes ‘reading in quantity’ (19) to promote reading comprehension, the learning of new vocabulary, grammar rules, and real-world writing and speaking skills. Extensive reading (ER) of texts in a variety of subject areas offers students ‘meaningful and memorable contexts for processing and interpreting new language’ (19), thus stimulating language learning. This book is organized effectively to present a coherent argument in favor of ER education and offers an abundance of empirical data to support this claim.

Section 1, ‘Developing reading skills in a foreign/second language’, discusses theoretical aspects of reading, and the importance of interactive reading models, automatic student response, vocabulary recognition, motivation, and student self-monitoring during the reading process to maximize correct comprehension.

Section 2, ‘Promoting literacy through extensive reading’, examines the role of texts (i.e. reading material in various genres) to the success of language instruction from primary school through the university level. The authors in this section discuss the importance of graded readers, literary texts, repeated reading, and the use of authentic materials in the EFL and ESL classroom to facilitate student understanding of written language in cultural, social, and personal contexts that promote literacy/fluency and personal and social growth.

Section 3, ‘The efficacy of extensive reading: Insights from the research’, discusses how students benefit from ER using qualitative (e.g. book reports, diaries) and quantitative (e.g. speed reading tests, vocabulary tests) research methods.

The final section, Section 4, ‘Extensive reading in the EFL/ESL classroom: Teaching tips’, is comprised of teacher lesson plans and language-learning activities. The articles in this section demonstrate how teaching according to the ER lesson plan facilitates student learning of content information and specific content terminology in EFL/ESL classrooms.

The book’s contributors make fundamentally important insights regarding ER and the incorporation of ER texts and methods in classrooms across the globe. The book’s purpose is to discover ‘if extensive reading programmes promote effective learning in all language skills…’ (20). The articles seem to point affirmatively to that goal on a world-wide basis.

Self-preservation in simultaneous interpreting

Self-preservation in simultaneous interpreting: Surviving the role. By Claudia Monacelli.  Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. Pp. xxi, 182. ISBN 9789027224286. $128 (Hb).

Reviewed by Diana Gorman Jamrozik, Columbia College Chicago

This book posits that simultaneous interpreting is essentially an unstable, face-threatening environment, and thus interpreters exhibit behaviors that serve to mediate and mitigate perceived threats to face. The book includes a preface, eight chapters, a reference list, and a short glossary of terms.

Ch. 1 ‘Introduction’ (1–8) presents an overview of M’s hypothesis and research questions. In Ch. 2 ‘Interpreting as a system’ (9–27), M argues that interpretation is largely an autonomous system, and seeks to define the norms that interpreters follow. She discusses research related to norms of practice and ethical norms.

Ch. 3 ‘Methodology and corpus’ (29–40) details the design of M’s investigation. She studied the interpretations of ten conference interpreters, each with a minimum of eleven years of experience. Data compilation consisted of four parts: collecting work samples from actual interpreting settings, gathering information on the interpreters’ experience and work philosophies, analyzing the interpretations, and debriefing with the interpreters to ascertain their perceptions of the findings.

Chs. 4 and 5 lay the theoretical groundwork for M’s study. In Ch. 4, ‘From system dynamics onward’ (41–60), M reviews the literature on autopoietic theory and systems dynamics and contends that interpretation is an autopoietic, or self-contained, system. Ch. 5 ‘Simultaneous interpreting as communicative interaction’ (61–85) identifies past research on the context of interpreting, participation framework, and interactional politeness. M argues that during an assignment, interpreters maintain consciousness of both their own work and the larger situation in which simultaneous interpreting occurs.

Ch. 6 ‘Participation framework and interactional politeness in corpus’ (87–131) details M’s analysis of shifts in stance, voice, and face between the source texts and target texts in her corpus. She found that all ten interpreters shift from deictic forms in the target text, and out of 188 total shifts, sixty-four percent of the shifts are from a personal to impersonal deictic reference during their interpretations, thus conveying a greater sense of distance in the target text. Analysis of voice in target texts looks at agency. M finds that out of ninety-four agency shifts in her corpus, fifty-four percent of the shifts denote a less direct agency in the target text than was found in the source text (for example, a shift from I do… to one does…). Finally, M looks at face in target texts by examining when the illocutionary force, or impact of a text on an audience, is either heightened or mitigated by an interpreter. M found a total of 162 shifts in illocutionary force and that sixty-nine percent of the shifts lessened the force of a statement.

In Ch. 7, ‘Discussion’ (133–54), M notes that the major finding of her research is that in the entire target texts studied, perceived threats to face—either to the target text audience or to the interpreter—were at times mitigated. Upon debriefing, interpreters acknowledged that this was a conscious choice. M hypothesizes that interpreters do this in attempt to maintain a dynamic equilibrium during simultaneous interpretation. Ch. 8 ‘Conclusion’ (155–65) ends by listing shortcomings with the research and offering suggestions for further study.

M offers a frank look at the myth of infallibility of simultaneous interpretation, and both practitioners and educators should find this work relevant and insightful.