Monthly Archives: January 2011

Lessons on the noun phrase in English

Lessons on the noun phrase in English: From representation to reference. By Walter Hirtle. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009. Pp. xiv, 405. ISBN 9780773536043. $95 (Hb).

Reviewed by John Hewson, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Both this text and Hirtle’s earlier Lessons on the English verb (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007) originated with courses taught at Université Laval in Quebec City over several decades. The purpose of these courses, and the resources that developed from these classes was to give insight into the choices the English language offers, ‘not to describe usage but to describe what explains usage’ (xi).

Ch. 1, ‘What we are going to talk about and how’ (3–15), presents an emic versus etic approach, where the simple (i.e. monosemic) singular versus plural contrast of the underlying nominal system (examined in Chs. 3–7) produces many different surface (i.e. polysemic) kinds of singular and plural, with a certain amount of overlapping of the two (e.g. a crossroad, a crossroads, the enemy is/are approaching).

Gender is examined in Ch. 8, ‘Gender in the substantive’ (126–46). English has two simple underlying binary contrasts. The first is between the animate and inanimate genders. The second type of contrast distinguishes masculine from feminine. There is a straightforward usage of this system in English discourse, with some possibility for underlying categories to overlap on the surface.

Ch. 9, ‘The substantive’ (147–59), investigates how the substantive in English can be the support of an adjective or a verb, but has its own internal support. In this sense, the substantive in English differs from finite verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, as shown in the following syntagmas: substantive < verb < adverb and adverb > adjective > substantive.

Ch. 10, ‘The system of the articles’ (160–74), begins the discussion of the definite and indefinite articles as a binary pair. H argues in Ch. 11, ‘A vs. the in discourse’ (175–96) that the English articles are complementary in function. The indefinite article is introductory, while the definite article is anaphoric, referring back to the situational context of the speaker’s intended message.  Ch. 12 ‘Bare vs. articled –s substantives’ (197–213) and Ch. 13 ‘Bare vs. articled –ø substantives’ (214–33) deal extensively with article usage. H presents an analysis of the complex alternation of definite, indefinite, and zero articles with singular and plural nouns.

In Ch. 14 ‘Any as a quantifier’ (234–49) and Ch. 15 ‘Some and the system’ (250–69), any and some are dealt with as another binary pair. These quantifiers are members of a single binary contrast that involve partitive quantifiers. A variety of contrastive pairs can be found (e.g.  I didn’t buy any sugar/ I bought some sugar or, more subtle Didn’t we buy any/ some sugar?) that differ in their contextual message. Furthermore, unlike the articles which are always completive pronouns (requiring a N to form an NP), the partitives can be completive (e.g. any book) or suppletive (e.g. any of them) pronouns.

H examines the use of demonstratives in Ch. 16 ‘The demonstratives’ (270–91). This and that, in addition to being either completive or suppletive, may also be either singular or plural. In the operational system, this signifies a movement towards the here and now (e.g. a person approaching is typically this person, even at a distance); and that signifies a movement away (e.g. a person walking away is that person, even if close). The contextual effects of this distinction are examined and discussed at length. For example, this, like the indefinite article, is often introductory (e.g. I met this man), and that is anaphoric (e.g. That problem you mentioned…).

After a brief chapter on determiners as completive pronouns in Ch. 17, ‘Determiners as completive pronouns’ (292–301), Ch. 18, ‘-’s Phrase’ (302–15), investigates the English possessive -’s suffix and summarizes the problems with analyzing it as discussed by grammarians and others. H covers this in considerable detail.

Ch.19, ‘Suppletive pronouns as noun phrase’ (316–31), spends some time on the pronoun it, too often dismissed as an empty pronoun. Ch. 20, ‘Personal pronouns and the expression of gender’ (332–47), examines how nouns may have their own inherent gender, but that it is frequently overridden in the selection of the gender of the substituting personal pronoun.

Ch. 21 ‘The noun phrase and person’ (348–57) deals with the element of person as the linguistic element that enables the referential function of the NP. Ch. 22, entitled ‘Syntactic function’ (358–67), examines the varying roles of direct and indirect object, case forms, and prepositional phrases.

This book constitutes a comprehensive view of the noun phrase in English, with many interesting insights that are not only useful for teachers and learners of English as a second language but also challenging for grammarians and linguists who specialize in the English language.

Time and modality

Time and modality. Ed. by Jacqueline Guéron and Jacqueline Lecarme. (Studies in natural language and linguistic theory 75.) New York: Springer, 2008. Pp. xvi, 296. ISBN 97814020-83532. $219 (Hb).

Reviewed by Ana Bravo, Granada University

Time and modality consists of eleven articles as well as an introduction and author and subject indices. This work, a follow-up to Jacqueline Guéron and Jacqueline Lecarme’s co-edited volume The syntax of time (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), gathers together the contributions presented at the International Round Table on Tense, Mood, and Modality in Paris, France in 2005. Specifically, the book covers topics on the grammatical relations between tense and modality.

Researchers can find an analysis of the differences between epistemic and root readings of  modal verbs along the lines of the minimalist program in Karen Zagona’s ‘Phasing in modals: Phases and the epistemic/root distinction’ (273–91). ‘On the temporal syntax of non-root modals’ (79–113), by Hamida Demirdache and Myriam Uribe-Etxebarria, offers a syntactic implementation of the different meanings (epistemic vs. metaphysical) that non-root English and Spanish modal verbs render when inflected with past morphology. Overall, the role of temporal information in modal verbs is addressed in Jacqueline Guéron’s ‘On the temporal function of modal verbs’ (143–71). She argues that the semantic contribution of a modal verb is not to introduce sets of possible worlds but rather (much as causative verbs do) to bridge the gap between the (hypothetical) spatial configuration denoted by the vP and the ongoing deictic world. This is accomplished through the temporal and aspectual content of the modal verb. In Bridget Copley’s ‘Temporal orientation in conditionals (or, how I learned to stop worrying and love UFO’s)’ (59–77), temporal information in conditional sentences is not causal but derives from the sort of modal flavor that each of these constituents expresses. For example, present orientation depends on epistemic modality, while future orientation depends on metaphysical modality.

The nature of the relation between modality, the speaker, and the subject of the sentence is examined with great detail in Gueron’s and Zagona’s contributions, where it receives a syntactic characterization. Apart from that, it follows that modal verbs do not differ in syntactic category, although epistemic and deontic readings may stem from other sources.

Kai von Fintel and Sabine Iatridou, in ‘How to say ought in foreign: The composition of weak necessity modals’ (115–41), deal with the surprising fact that the meaning of the English weak necessity modal ought (as in You {ought /#have/#must} to do the dishes, but you don´t have to) is expressed crosslinguistically by a strong necessity modal augmented with counterfactual morphology, as evidenced in a number of languages (data provided by native speakers): Greek, French, Spanish, Russian, Croatian, Dutch, Icelandic, and Hungarian. Jacqueline Lecarme’s ‘Tense and modality in nominals’ (195–225) shows that past morphology in the nominal domain in Somali conveys temporal meanings as well as modal and evidential notions. A unified account of this property is achieved by considering that, in general, it is exclusion or dissociation that past morphology expresses.

Tim Stowell describes in ‘The English Konjunktiv II’ (251–71) what he calls the English Konjunktiv II construction (K2) (e.g. had’ve gone or had of gone). The K2 is a past perfect subjunctive that carries a strong counterfactual meaning and is restricted to informal register. Topics regarding the category of evidentiality are examined in ‘Intensional subjects and indirect contextual anchoring’ (39–57) by Ileana Comorovski. In this article, the author studies the contribution of modality (point of view predicates and conditional mood) to the syntax and semantics of specificational copular clauses in Romanian.

Intensionality, understood in the context of genericity, is treated in Greg Carlson’s ‘Patterns in the semantics of generic sentences’ (17–37) and it is explained, along with other properties of generic sentences, through the notion of pattern.

An analysis of the contribution of aspect to temporal interpretation is presented in ‘Time with and without tense’ (227–49) by Carlota S. Smith, which is devoted to the study of the tenseless languages Mandarin Chinese and Navajo. Finally, in ‘The English perfect and the metaphysics of events’ (173–93), James Higginbotham offers a new approach  to the general thesis that the English perfect  is purely an aspectual predicate. The author also considers metaphysical questions concerning the nature of events and situations, including the issue of event positions, which are said to be extended to manner adverbs and quantifiers.

Das Serbokroatische zwischen Linguistik und Politik

Das Serbokroatische zwischen Linguistik und Politik: Mit einer Bibliographie zum postjugoslavischen Sprachenstreit. By Bernhard Gröschel. (LINCOM studies in slavic linguistics 34.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2009. Pp. vi, 440. ISBN 9783929075793. $115.78 (Hb).

Reviewed by Marc Pierce, University of Texas at Austin

This book offers an extremely thorough discussion of the language controversy after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. Bernhard Gröschel evaluates the question of whether Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian are to be treated as separate languages or as dialects of the same language, and aims to give proper attention to linguistics, sociology, politics, and communications while doing so.  It covers largely the same ground as Robert D. Greenberg’s Language and identity in the Balkans: Serbo-Croation and its disintergration (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), but is considerably longer than Greenberg’s work (and often engages critically with it). According to the back cover, it is intended for Slavic and general linguists as well as for political scientists and historians interested in questions of language, nationalism, and politics.

The book contains twelve chapters: ‘Geschichte des Serbokroatischen und seiner Benennungen bis zum postjugoslavischen Sprachenschisma’ (5–50), ‘Sprach-varianten: Relation zum Systembegriff und Variantentypen’ (51–84), ‘Ausbausprachen und Kultur-dialekte’ (85–91), ‘Die Standardsprachenproblematik’ (92–131), ‘Wechselseitige Verständlichkeit von Idiomen’ (132–51), ‘Sezession des Kroatischen’ (152–74), ‘Sprachliche Emanzipationsbestrebungen der bosnischen Muslime’ (175–259), ‘Isolierung des Serbischen’ (260–79), ‘Montenegrinisch: Komponente des Serbischen oder autonome Sprache?’ (280–311), ‘Sprache und Sprecher: Folk linguistics’ (312–29), ‘Sprache und Recht: Amtssprachen und amtliche Glottonyme’ (330–50), and ‘Bestandsaufnahme und Ausblick’ (351–79). There is also an enormous bibliography.

These chapters address a number of important and relevant issues, including the history of the language(s) once called Serbo-Croatian, structural differences between Serbian and Croatian, the linguistic status (e.g. standard language, language, or dialect) of these languages, folk linguistics, and the legal status of various languages. The author concludes that it is legitimate to speak of Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian as separate languages, as long as one keeps in mind that strictly linguistic criteria alone do not suffice to capture what is meant by language.

In many respects, this is an admirable book. It is clearly written and the discussions are invariably thorough. I do suspect that the book will be of more use for Slavic linguists than general linguists. However, this book deserves to have much wider circulation.

Anglicisms in Europe

Anglicisms in Europe: Linguistic diversity in a global context. Ed. by Roswitha Fischer and Hanna Puɫaczewska. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008. Pp. xv, 339. ISBN 9781847186560. $59.99 (Hb).

Reviewed by María Dolores Romero

This book contains some of the papers read at the Anglicism in Europe Conference, which took place at the University of Regensburg in Germany in 2006. It deals with linguistic aspects of social, psychological, political, and cultural issues related to Anglicisms in European languages.

The book is divided into four parts. Part 1, ‘Cognitive and semantic approaches to Anglicisms’, contains three chapters. Ch. 1 by Esme Winter-Froemel summarizes past and current approaches to Anglicism borrowing. The author proposes a new classification based on the cognitive process involved in the import of a word from the source language, analogical innovation, and independent innovation. The evaluation criterion is the context of the speaker and listener related to cognitive use. In Ch. 2 Nevena Alexieva shows the importance of the cognitive approach for the study of Anglicism and the active role of the borrowing language. This role is the interpretation used to create a new lexical word of the respective source language. The author supports this approach with analysis of some Anglicisms in the Dictionary of European Anglicism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). Ch. 3 by John Dunn examines the semantic, formal, pragmatic, and creative processes related to borrowing. The words analyzed are taken mostly from Russian but according to the author, the basic principles can be applied to most European languages.

Part 2, ‘Attitudes towards the influx of Anglicisms’, includes four chapters on attitudes towards the borrowing of Anglicism and its influence in European languages. Ch. 4 by Irene Doval relates the influences of the English language on German in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In Ch. 5 John Humbley presents and compares data on the influx of lexical Anglicism in French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Rumanian. In Ch. 6 Roswitha Fischer deals with the influences of the English language on the choice of given first names. The author concludes that the Anglo-American culture is very influential in terms of politics, marketing, technology, and mass media. Pertti Hietaranta concludes this section in Ch. 7. The author argues that the influx of Anglicisms in Finnish is due to the globalisation of culture in general and the role of pragmatic factors, such as techniques and saving time in the process of translation.

Part 3, ‘The use of Anglicism in specialized discourse’, is comprised of six articles focusing on specific practices and subjects. Ch. 8 by Virginia Pulcini discusses the increased use of English words related to sports in Italian. In Ch. 9 Heiko Girnth and Sascha Michel analyze the use, status, and function of loan-shortenings from English in newspapers and magazines of the German police and armed forces. Angelika Bergien in Ch. 10 reveals the use of English elements in company names in Germany as well as the attitudes and reactions of costumers towards those English words. Ch. 11 by Tibor Örsi deals with the techniques applied in the process of nativization of computer-related vocabulary in French. Hanna Puɫaczewska analyzes the use of Anglicism in German and Polish mass media communication in Ch. 12. Ch. 13 by Félix Rodríguez González focuses on the increased use of Anglicism in Spanish terms related to homosexuality.

Finally, Part 5, ‘Anglicisms in dictionaries’, looks at Anglicism in dictionaries of European languages. Ch. 14, written by Ulrich Busse, examines the Dictionary of European Anglicism (DEA) and explains the practical approach, methodology, and categories applied in DEA. Marcin Kilarski and Marcin Ptaszyński study pronunciation, spelling, and morphological adaptation of Anglicisms in three European languages (Norwegian, German, and Polish) in Ch. 15. The authors compare data taken from the DEA which contain loanwords from all three languages with data collected from the dictionary for each particular language. Lastly, in Ch. 16   Cristiano Furiassi studies a list of non-adapted Anglicisms in Italian. The author suggests that such Anglicisms, with regard to their frequency, should be considered in a monolingual general dictionary in order to avoid a distorted image of reality.

Motion verbs in English and Spanish

A crosslinguistic study on the semantics of motion verbs in English and Spanish. By Paula Cifuentes-Férez.(LINCOM studies in semantics 1.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2009. Pp. 305. ISBN 9783929075076. $98.28.

Reviewed by Louisa Buckingham, Sabanci University Writing Center, Turkey

This monograph investigates the semantics of verbs of motion in Spanish and English. Paula Cifuentes-Férez limits herself to self-agentive and non-agentive motion verbs, which are inherently intransitive in nature. The study seeks to answer specific questions concerning the encoding of semantic notions in motion verbs in each language, such as path and manner. Consisting of six chapters, C’s main contribution is in Ch. 5. Following the introduction in Ch. 1, Chs. 2–4 provide an overview of research into verbs of motion in semantics.

Ch. 2 outlines the theoretical background of cognitive linguistics, cognitive semantics, and conceptual semantics, with particular attention to Leonard Talmy’s work (Toward a cognitive semantics, vols. 1 and 2, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000). Ch. 3 provides an overview of research influenced by the Talmian theory of lexical patterns for motion events and includes a survey of linguistic relativity research. Ch. 4 examines different approaches to analyzing and classifying motion verbs. C reviews how this classification has been done in earlier research and by a variety of online data bases for English and Spanish lexicons (e.g. Adesse, FrameNet, and WordNet). The broad review of the literature provided in these three chapters will likely serve as useful introductory reference material to graduate students studying motion verb semantics.

Ch. 5 explores the semantics of English and Spanish verbs of motion. One of the chapter’s objectives is to test the hypothesis that satellite-framed and verb-framed languages (such as English and Spanish) appear to possess approximately the same number of path verbs. Additionally, C attempts to analyze whether manner verbs in the two languages encode the same level of detail. C begins her research by investigating which semantic notions are conflated in English and Spanish motion verbs, and then determining the types of semantic detail encoded in path verbs in the two languages. Her results show that path verbs tend to form a closed lexical category, but the Spanish path verb lexicon seems to be larger than that of English. C accounts for this in two ways. First,  there may be a higher number of path verbs in Spanish that encode specific details and are restricted to specific contexts (e.g. pirarse ‘to leave’) or certain figures (zarpar ‘to set sail’). Second, some path verbs in Spanish are derived from adverbs and nouns (e.g. acercarse ‘to approach’, distanciarse ‘to distance’). However, the author did not find significant differences in the quality of the path verbs in each language. Both English and Spanish possess verbs that express the thirteen types of path information included in her analysis. With respect to manner verbs, on the other hand, C concludes that English employs a greater number of such verbs than Spanish and uses some manner categories more frequently than Spanish (for example, in the use of vehicle and dance names to express specific types of motion). Nevertheless, both languages lexicalize similar sorts of manner information. C presents her analysis in Ch. 5 with ample examples from Spanish and English, including English translations for the Spanish examples.

The book ends with two appendices that provide a semantic breakdown of the motion verbs in English and Spanish used in the study. This study is of particular interest to students and scholars undertaking contrastive analyses of the semantic characteristics of verbs.

Convergence and divergence in language contact situations

Convergence and divergence in language contact situations. Ed. by Kurt Braunmüller and Juliane House. (Hamburg studies on multilingualism 8.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. Pp, viii, 241. ISBN 9789027219282. $113 (Hb).

Reviewed by Diego Pascual y Cabo, University of Florida

This book is based from the proceedings of a symposium that took place during the fall 2007 at the Research Center on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg. A detailed introduction by Kurt Braunmüller and Juliane House provides the reader with an in-depth review on the topic of convergence and divergence. This topic is further developed in three different parts.

Part 1, ‘Challenges to accepted views of convergence and divergence in language contact situations’, consists of three papers that defy traditional beliefs on language convergence and divergence. First, Georg Bossong argues against the genealogical classification of languages and suggests a multilateral approach in his article ‘Divergence, convergence, contact: Challenges for the genealogical classification of languages’ (13–40). Second, in ‘Increases in complexity as a result of language contact’ (41–52), Östen Dahl argues against the idea that language contact is followed by the reduction in complexity of the language system. As a matter of fact, he claims that there is an increase in the complexity mainly due to the creation of distinctions that did not exist in either of the contributing languages (41). Lastly, Kurt Braunmüller concludes this section in ‘Converging genetically related languages: Endstation code mixing?’ (53–70) by challenging Pieter Myusken’s concept of congruent lexicalization (Bilingual speech: A typology of code-mixing, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000) and Carol Myers-Scotton’s definition of composite matrix languages (Contact linguistics: Bilingual encounters and grammatical outcomes, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) regarding language contact. His main contribution is the proposal of a new model of language mixing between closely related languages.

Part 2, ‘Convergence and divergence in different varieties in oral and written discourse’, consists of four papers. Steffen Höder posits in ‘Converging languages, diverging varieties: Innovative relativisation patterns in Old Swedish’ (73–100) that the emergence of appositive relative clauses and the pronominal relativization strategy, as the most typologically salient innovations, has to be explained as a grammatical replication of Latin features in a process of language Ausbau (73). Karoline H. Kühl and Hjalmar P. Petersen analyze the vulnerability of verb phrases in bilingual speech in two language contact situations in ‘Converging verbal phrases in related languages: A case study from Faro-Danish and Danish-German language contact situations’ (101–24).  In ‘Convergence and divergence of communicative norms through language contact in translation’ (125–52), Viktor Becher, Juliane House, and Svenja Kranich evaluate the role of translation as a trigger for convergence and divergence phenomena in two studies involving English and German. They suggest that perceived similarities between linguistic elements in the two languages will result in convergence while perceived differences between linguistic elements will result in divergence. Lastly, Robert E. Vann reflects on the need for improved preservation, access, and analysis of spontaneous speech innovation in his article, ‘On the importance of spontaneous speech innovations in language contact situations’ (153–82). Vann offers previous evidence from Spanish speaking communities of Spain and America.

Part 3, ‘Phonological processes of variation and change in bilingual individuals’, starts with Susana Cortés, Conxita Lleó, and Ariadna Benet’s article ‘Gradient merging of vowels in Barcelona Catalan under the influence of Spanish’ (185–204). The authors analyze the intense contact situation between Catalan and Spanish in three districts of Barcelona. This paper examines the influence of Spanish phonology on the production of Catalan vowel contrasts, and provides quantitative evidence that both vowel systems are converging in the speech of children living in the highly Spanish-influenced district of Barcelona. Javier Arias and Conxita Lleó conclude this volume with ‘Comparing the representation of iambs by monolingual German, monolingual Spanish and bilingual German-Spanish children’ (205–34). In this article, the authors examine stress acquisition in early childhood, specifically the production of iambic-shaped words by monolingual and bilingual children.

In conclusion, this volume offers a fresh overview on convergence and divergence in language contact situations. Although most of its papers exclusively examine contact among (North) Germanic languages, all of the papers included in this volume successfully contribute to a better understanding of language contact. Overall, this book will be of great interest to linguists, particularly those interested in bi/multilingualism, language in contact, and language variation and change.

Complex processes in new languages

Complex processes in new languages. Ed. by Enoch O. Aboh and Norval Smith. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. Pp. vii, 409. ISBN 9789027252579. $158 (Hb).

Reviewed by Haitao Liu, Communication University of China

This book addresses the issue of complexity in language evolution and creolization. After discussing several important linguistic questions concerning simplification and complexification in the introductory chapter ‘Simplicity, simplification, complexity and complexification: Where have the interfaces gone?’ (1–25), Aboh and Smith conclude that creolization should not be equated with simplification. The book consists of six parts: ‘Morpho-phonology’, ‘Verbal morphology’, ‘Nominals’, ‘The selection of features in complex morphology’, ‘Evaluating simplification and complexification’, and ‘Postscript’.

Tjerk Hagemeijer investigates the Gulf of Guinea creoles in the article, ‘Initial vowel agglutination in the Gulf of Guinea creoles’ (29–50). These creoles borrow many etymologically consonant-initial words from Portuguese, the lexifier, and contain agglutinated vowels that are devoid of any morphological function. Norval Smith’s article, ‘Simplification of a complex part of grammar or not? What happened to KiKoongo nouns in Saramaccan?’ (51–73), covers the consequences of a large number of KiKoongo words, which are marked by noun-class and number, being incorporated into Surinam creoles, which lack any noun-class or number marking systems. In ‘Reducing phonological complexity and grammatical opaqueness: Old Tibetan as a lingua franca and the development of the modern Tibetan varieties’ (75–95), Bettina Zeisler discusses the role of Old Tibetan as a lingua franca in the development of the syllable structure in modern Tibetan varieties.

Tonjes Veenstra, in ‘Verb allomorphy and the syntax of phases’ (99–113), argues that in some French-related creoles, the alternation of long and short verb forms is a reflex of French inflectional morphology that has survived the creolization process. The next article, ‘The invisible hand in creole genesis: Reanalysis in the formation of Berbice Dutch’ (115–58) by Silvia Kouwenberg, discusses the historical context in which Berbice Dutch developed. The author argues that simplification, usually considered as resulting from the dilution of European target languages, is not necessarily involved in creolization. In other words, creolization may follow diverse paths. Christine Jourdan presents an instance of language evolution in ‘Complexification or regularization of paradigms: The case of prepositional verbs in Solomon Islands Pijin’ (159–70). She notes that in Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands, the speakers of the local variety of Pijin extensively useem, a transitive suffix, to transform prepositions into prepositional verbs.

Diana Guillemin deals with the development of determiners in Mauritian Creole in ‘The Mauritian Creole determiner system: A historical overview’ (173–200). In ‘Demonstratives in Afrikaans and Cape Dutch Pidgin: A first attempt’ (201–19), Hans den Besten explores the development of demonstratives in Afrikaans and Cape Dutch Pidgin.

Anthony P. Grant, in his article ‘Contact, complexification and change in Mindanao Chabacano structure’ (223–41), explores the phonological and structural complexification in Mindanao Chabacano, a predominantly Spanish-lexifier creole of southwestern Mindanao. Peter Slomanson argues that, owing to the encoding of finiteness and tense features, the negation in Sri Lankan Malay exhibits greater inflectional complexity than in the lexifier, in his article ‘Morphosyntactic finiteness as increased complexity in a mixed negation system’ (243–64). Umberto Ansaldo, in ‘Contact language formation in evolutionary terms’ (265–89), analyzes the evolution of case makers in a variety of Sri Lanka Malay, and concludes that a new grammar is simply the result of a recombination of grammatical features of the input language.

In her aritlce, ‘Economy, innovation and degrees of complexity in creole formation’ (293–315), Marlyse Baptista examines the view that a correlation between morphosyntactic simplification and semantic complexification would occur when there is language contact. This article also explores the degree of morphological similarities and dissimilarities between two sister creoles assumed to have evolved from the common source languages. Enoch O. Aboh, by pointing to the invalidity of the notion of simplicity in understanding the structure, as well as the genesis, of creoles, disproves the common belief that creoles are simplified versions of their lexifiers in ‘Competition and selection: That’s all!’ (317–44). Umberto Ansaldo and Sebastian Nordhoff, in ‘Complexity and the age of languages’ (345–63), discuss the issue of complexity in language genesis and the time needed for complex structures to emerge in the evolution of a language. They propose that (i) the structure of a new language, during its genesis, partially depends on the typology of the input languages, and (ii) the study of the rate of change needs to take into account ecological matters.

This book concludes with the article ‘Restructuring, hybridization, and complexity in language evolution’ (367–400) by Salikoko S. Mufwene. His article is a compelling invitation for more fine-grained investigation of the evolution and structures of vernaculars, illuminating the fact that the study of language contact may contribute to the study of general linguistics and forward a better integration of this research area into linguistics.

Altogether, this volume is a valuable resource, not only for creolists, but also for those who have a general interest in the study of language evolution and linguistic complexity.

An introduction to sociolinguistics

An introduction to sociolinguistics. 6th edn. By Ronald Wardhaugh. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Pp. viii, 456. ISBN 9781405186681. $44.95.

Reviewed by Diego Pascual y Cabo, University of Florida

The latest edition of An introduction to sociolinguistics by Ronald Wardhaugh is an indispensable book for scholars interested in the field of sociolinguistics. Students will benefit from this well-written book that effectively balances references to classic and current studies in the field. Despite its length, undergraduate and graduate students alike will find it interesting and thought-provoking. Academic professionals will be gratified to learn that this book provides all the material needed for an introductory sociolinguistics class coherently organized.

This sixth edition is organized in a familiar way. First, a comprehensive introduction (1–20) lays the foundation for the book. Key topics such as the difference between social and asocial linguistic perspectives, the construction of self and others through language use and social interaction, and variationism introduce the reader to the central theoretical issues in sociolinguistics. The four main sections expand on these concepts to enable the reader to understand more technical studies. Part 1, ‘Languages and communities’ (21–133), presents the reader with such traditional issues as languages vs. dialects, pidgins vs. creoles, and multilingualism. Part 2, ‘Inherent variety’ (135–226), discusses language variation. Part 3, ‘Words at work’ (227–330), deals with the social and cultural dimensions of language. Speech acts, politeness, as well as taboo and euphemism are some of the topics presented. Part 4, ‘Understanding and intervening’ (331–408), discusses gender, education, and language planning as factors in the social status of any language. W concludes his work with a strong argument for the inherent relationship between language and society. Social forces and ‘such concepts as “identity,” “class,” “power,” “solidarity,” “politeness,” and “gender”’ (411) are cornerstones for understanding this relationship.

Even though W has maintained the structure of the book for the two most recent editions, his work is far from being a new-old version. This edition is filled with countless examples from current studies. Furthermore, W has added several ‘Exploration’ sections throughout each chapter to elicit critical thinking and help the reader assimilate a wide variety of complex theories and difficult concepts. In addition, W facilitates the reader’s understanding by discussing every term in great depth with a wealth of examples.

In conclusion, this textbook is essential for anyone interested in sociolinguistics. It is well-written, easy to understand, and in no way obscure or esoteric. W has created an invaluable source of information that he has only improved with each edition.

The Tamil auxiliary verb system

The Tamil auxiliary verb system. By Sanford B. Steever. (Routledge studies in Asian linguistics.) London: Routledge, 2005. Pp. xvi, 317. ISBN 9780415346726. $173 (Hb).

Reviewed by Michael W. Morgan, Addis Ababa University

Tamil possesses a wide range of auxiliary verb constructions (AVCs, often referred to as ‘light verbs’). The present book is a significantly updated revision of Sanford B. Steever’s University of Chicago doctoral dissertation, which has not been superseded since 1983.

In Ch. 1 S provides a theoretical introduction to the topic of auxiliary formation. Although much of the formal presentation uses a classical transformational model, S also applies Émile Benveniste’s analysis of auxiliary verbs and Roman Jakobson’s analysis of shifters, which should serve to make his treatment accessible to a wider audience. Ch. 2 provides a sketch of Tamil and a literature review. In Ch. 3 S presents the complete Tamil verb system.

Chs. 4 and 5 discuss, respectively, the internal and external syntax of Tamil indicative AVCs. These chapters provide the necessary tests to establish S’s claim that AVCs are a syntactic object in their own right. In terms of internal syntax, these tests include strict subcategorization, subject agreement, restrictions on satellites, selection restrictions, causative formation, negation, bounded movement restriction, S-deletion, conjunction, reduplication, and particle insertion. Since AVCs are claimed to be a verb form, we should expect them to occur in any grammatical context where simple verbs occur. The discussion of external syntax provides a coherent explanation in terms of pragmatic factors (e.g. discursive speech and shifts between speech and narrative) for the few instances where AVCs act peculiarly, particularly frames in which AVCs are either obligatory or prohibited, .

In Ch. 6 S discusses the auxiliary uses of the three major Tamil auxiliaries: irukka (auxiliary of anterior interval), viṭa (disjunctive connector) and koḷḷa (conjunctive connector). These three auxiliaries may be used as main verbs as well as auxiliaries (indicating tense, aspect, and epistemic status). In addition, viṭa can indicate object-orientation while koḷḷa can indicate subject-orientation.

Ch. 7 presents several minor auxiliaries that express such things as fulfillment, nondiscursive perfect, durative, subsequent action, benefactive, judgment, and completion. Ch. 8 discusses the important category of auxiliaries of attitude and abuse, which express such things as antipathy, relief, antiperfect (i.e. failed perfect), pointlessness, viscosity, acceleration, abruptness, exhaustion, turns for the worse, and benedictive. Citing several anthropological studies on liminal stages, S hypothesizes that because these verbs all possess main-verb semantics that include an element of liminality, it is this liminality that gives rise to the negative attitudinal use expressed by all but the benedictive.

In Ch. 9 S concludes by focusing on opportunities for further study of Tamil auxiliaries: further candidates for attitudinal auxiliaries, a companion study of modal auxiliaries, a comparative study of the other Dravidian languages (Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kurux), and variation within Tamil dialects. Finally, S offers auxiliary formation, with which his book opened, as a guide for further study. A bibliography, including forty-four entries postdating the original dissertation, and a subject index conclude the book.

Meaning in the second language

Meaning in the second language. By Roumyana Slabakova. (Studies on language acquisition 34.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2008. Pp. xi, 326. ISBN 9783110203226. $137 (Hb).

Reviewed by Dennis Ryan, Raleigh, NC

In Meaning in the second language, Roumyana Slabakova examines language acquisition from a generative linguistic perspective. Beginning with child language acquisition, then moving on to adult second language (L2) acquisition, she explores theories of language development that focus on ‘a critical period for language acquisition’ (1), looking at biological explanations for the onset of these critical periods while arguing that various language functions onset in multiple critical stages, specifically at various stages of the interface of the morphosyntactic, semantic, and phonological modules. S subdivides morphosyntax into morphophonology and syntax in terms of mental processing, and the semantic module into lexical semantics and phrasal semantics, which operate independently but in unison with one another.

Ch. 1 summarizes research on the critical period hypothesis. S describes the critical period as ‘a limited developmental period’ during which the language learner acquires a first or second language ‘to normal, native-like levels’ (2). Ch. 2 focuses on how meaning is accessed lexically and phrasally. S discusses language acquisition in terms of minimalist linguistics and Ray Jackendoff’s parallel architecture, which proposes the interaction of semantic, phonological, and syntactic processing modules to produce meaning at the linguistic interface; she finds the latter a language model ‘more compatible with findings from neurolinguistics and psycholinguistics’ (30).

Ch. 3 critically reviews recent studies in psycholinguistics, particularly those that utilize neuroimaging (fMRI) and event-related brain potentials (ERP’s), to repeatedly demonstrate the existence of separate processing modules for semantics and syntax, and that the acquisition of semantics and morphosyntax occurs differentially. Ch. 4 examines the validity of psycholinguistic data to test linguistic performance and concludes that behavioral testing in L1 and L2 remains the primary means of testing theories of language acquisition.

In Ch. 5 , S introduces a ‘bottleneck hypothesis’ to explicate an L2 theory of grammatical competence. She argues for ‘tight places’ in language acquisition (12; 84–85), such as functional morphology (e.g. verb inflections) that can only be learned by repeated practice yet is crucial at all stages of language learning. Ch. 6 offers experimental evidence for the bottleneck hypothesis. S notes that studies have repeatedly found that L2 learners ‘had to reconfigure, or reclassify, the L2 inflectional morphology’ while simultaneously learning the attendant phonological and syntactic features.

Ch. 7 discusses studies of intermediate and advanced language learners negotiating rarer sentence forms; functional morphology again proves the most challenging aspect of language acquisition. Ch. 8 examines L2acquisition research that focuses on what is difficult to learn in the L2, again emphasizing the syntactic and semantic features of inflectional morphology.

This book is exhaustively researched. It synthesizes and extrapolates from language research in several disciplines to present new insights into how meaning is acquired in a second language. Assuming the existence of a universal grammar, the book is an ambitious effort to add a generative linguistic component to L2 acquisition theory and teaching, and S convincingly relates the bottleneck hypothesis to the L2 pedagogy of researchers such as Catherine Doughty, Bill VanPatten, and Robert DeKeyser. The book has only one drawback: it relies almost exclusively on minimalist terminology to explain meaning, thus limiting its audience primarily to linguists working in that approach.