Monthly Archives: April 2011

An introduction to Irish English

An introduction to Irish English. By Carolina P. Amador-Moreno. (Equinox textbooks and surveys in linguistics.) London: Equinox, 2010. Pp. xi, 191. ISBN 9781845533717. $28.

Reviewed by Mark J. Elson, University of Virginia

This textbook comprises nine chapters, which may be grouped thematically as background (Ch. 1, ‘Some key notions’; Ch. 2, ‘The history of the English language in Ireland’), structure (Ch. 3, ‘The grammar of Irish English’; Ch. 5, ‘The sounds of Irish English’), lexicon and usage (Ch. 4, ‘The vocabulary of Irish English’; Ch. 6, ‘Fictional representations of Irish English’; Ch. 7, ‘Meaning what they say: The pragmatics of Irish English’), and applied (Ch. 8, ‘Searching corpora for data’; Ch. 9, ‘Implications for EFL teachers and learners’). The chapters are followed by a list of references and an index. Many will like the interpolation of the author’s personal experiences with Irish English, but others may find it disruptive, viewing footnotes as a more appropriate location for anecdotal information of a personal nature.

Carolina P. Amador-Moreno describes her book as a starting point for those interested in the subject matter (viii), pointing out that the features she presents as characteristic of Irish English may be attested in other varieties. This seems especially true in the chapter on pragmatics, where virtually all of the features will be familiar, at least for optional use, to speakers of other varieties. The discussion throughout is clear and uncomplicated, generally devoid of issues of theory, and amply supplemented by relevant interactive activities. Throughout, the narrative presents a good introductory survey of the source material. The discussion of fictional representations is especially good. The weak point of the book is the discussion of structure, divided between the chapters on grammar and sound. The chapter on grammar is stronger, combining aspects of history and synchrony. The chapter on sounds is less structured, proceeding as if the reader had background in English phonology and phonetics (i.e. knowledge of the system of phones and phonemes). The author relates Irish English phones to those of Standard English (e.g. Received Pronunciation) and other varieties as they are attested in spellings. Thus, Irish English is not treated as a system in its own right, but as a set of deviations from Standard English. For example, we read that Irish English has no h dropping (77), a quasi-historical statement meaning that we find /h/ among the consonant phonemes of Irish English, although not always among those of other varieties. A more system-oriented approach relying on phonetics rather than phonemes would have been preferable.

In connection with Received Pronunciation, the author takes the questionable position (especially apparent in the concluding chapter) that it provides the phonological standard of English. She comments on difficulties encountered by those who want to learn Irish English and other varieties, which she views as phonologically non-standard. However, she notes correctly that some of the so-called non-standard varieties have become important (152). This is not the place to pursue the point in detail, but some varieties indisputably have their own standard, rendering comparison to Received Pronunciation little more than an exercise. In the case of Irish English, this comparison is perhaps motivated due to the geographical proximity of the two varieties. However, the choice in today’s world is not whether to learn Received Pronunciation or a non-standard phonology, but which of the various standard phonologies and grammars to learn.

The syntactic licensing of ellipsis

The syntactic licensing of ellipsis. By Lobke Aelbrecht. (Linguistik aktuell/Linguistics today 149.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. xii, 230. ISBN 9789027255327. $149 (Hb).

Reviewed by Dimitrios Ntelitheos, United Arab Emirates University

This book attempts a detailed study of ellipsis, i.e. the non-pronunciation of a linguistic string whose semantic contribution can be recoverable from the context. The book further attempts to provide an explanation on why certain types of ellipsis exist in some languages but not in others and what exactly is the syntactic mechanism that licenses ellipsis.

Ch. 1, ‘What is ellipsis?’ (1–16), provides a general discussion of ellipsis as a linguistic phenomenon, including a detailed literature review of both structural and non-structural approaches to ellipsis. In particular, two structural approaches—null proform and deletion at phonological form (PF)—that dominate the field are discussed. The chapter ends with a discussion of different restrictions on elided material related to how this material is recoverable and how the ellipsis is licensed.

Ch. 2, ‘Dutch modal complement ellipsis’ (17–86), introduces the different syntactic properties of Dutch modals. A number of diagnostic tests show that Dutch modals behave like raising verbs and not like control verbs. Complements are shown to be reduced clausal strings that contain a vP layer and tense projection. Finally, the categorial status of the modals is shown to be Mod/V head rather than auxiliary or inflectional heads. A examines more closely the properties of Dutch modal complement ellipsis, demonstrating that this type of ellipsis is only allowed with root modals and affects a complete constituent. A number of extraction tests reveal that extraction out of the ellipsis site of Dutch modal complements is possible with subjects but restricted with objects and impossible with adjuncts. Additionally, ellipsis is possible when the subject is an expletive if the associate is not deleted. Mismatches in form between the elided material and its antecedent are allowed to some extent.

Ch. 3, ‘Ellipsis licensing’ (87–156), introduces a theory of ellipsis based on the notion of Agree. A proposes that ‘ellipsis is licensed via an Agree relation between an ellipsis feature and the ellipsis licensing head’ (87). When this head enters the derivation, ellipsis takes place instantaneously and blocks additional computations from occurring within the ellipsis site. The feature checking mechanism results in not allowing the lexical insertion of material at the level of PF. The analysis explains previously observed extraction contrasts between subjects and objects in Dutch ellipsis sites.

Ch. 4, ‘Extending the analysis to other ellipses’ (157–206), applies the author’s analysis to other cases of ellipsis, including sluicing, English VP-ellipsis, pseudogapping, and British English do.  In particular, the analysis predicts that all material that escapes the ellipsis site before the ellipsis licensing head merges is available for further computations. On the other hand, material trapped within the ellipsis site is deleted and thus, is not available to further operations in the narrow syntax.

Finally, Ch. 5 ‘Conclusion and issues for further research’ (207–14), presents A’s concluding remarks and lists a number of issues that require additional study. Most notably, issues are left open concerning null complement anaphora that are traditionally assumed to involve null pronominal forms, as well as the cases of stripping, gapping, fragments, and nominal ellipsis that also involve elided material of some sort.

The book is a valuable addition to the discussion of syntactic licensing mechanisms in different cases of material that is not phonetically realized.


Principense: Grammar, texts and vocabulary of the Afro-Portuguese Creole of the Island of Principe, Gulf of Guinea. By Philippe Maurer. London: Battlebridge Publications, 2009. Pp. viii, 280. ISBN 9781903292112. $34.29.

Reviewed by Peter Freeouf, Chiang Mai University

Although several Portuguese-based Creole languages are still spoken, mainly in Africa and Asia, a number of them are severely endangered. This book deals with one such variety, Principense, spoken on the island of Principe, in the Gulf of Guinea. The island of Principe is part of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Principe, an island state off the coast of West Africa. The language, now spoken by less than a thousand mostly older speakers, is threatened by another Portuguese-based Creole, Cape Verdean, and by the official language, Portuguese. A devastating epidemic wiped out much of the population of Principe around 1900, leading to a subsequent immigration of Cape Verdeans to the island and the decline in the local Creole language.

The book is divided into seven chapters and concludes with two appendices, a list of references, and an index. Ch. 1, ‘Introduction’ (1–6), gives background information on the history of the language and its speakers, its present situation, previous studies, and efforts to preserve it. Ch. 2, ‘Phonology’ (7–27), discusses the segmental features and the question of phonemic tone in the language. The author concludes that the language employs a system of two contrasting tones but states that more research is required to establish more precisely how the features of tone, tone sandhi, intonation, and stress function and interact in the language.

Ch. 2, ‘Morphosyntax’ (29–171), presents an analysis of nominal and verbal morphology and syntax. Other features, such as interjections, onomatopoetic expressions, reduplication, and ideophones, are dealt with in Ch. 4, ‘Miscellaneous features’ (173–77). Ch.5, ‘Texts’ (179–210), contains short texts with interlinear grammatical-lexical glosses and English translation as well as non-glossed texts with English translations in parallel columns. The next two chapters are a ‘Principense-English word list’ (211–44), and an ‘English-Principense word list’ (245–56).

The first appendix (257–60) consists of a story in three Creole languages of São Tomé and Principe (Santomense, Angolar, and Principense) and an English translation in parallel columns, followed by a short word list. The second appendix (261–73) prints the earliest description of Principense, from 1888, existing only in manuscript until its inclusion in this book. This first grammar of Principense is given in the original Portuguese with an English translation.

There are numerous photographs in the book. In the phonology section there are spectrograms of lexical items, both in isolation and in short sentences to show their pitch levels. There are also photographs of individual residents, street scenes, and natural features of the island. Two maps are included: one shows the location of the island of Principe in the Gulf of Guinea, and the other the main towns and geographical features of the island.

This detailed study is a valuable addition to recent studies of endangered Portuguese-based Creoles, and will be well received by Creolists and anyone interested in Portuguese-based Creoles.

Corpus linguistics and the description of English

Corpus linguistics and the description of English. By Hans Lindquist. (Edinburgh textbooks on the English language—Advanced.) Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009. Pp. xx, 219. ISBN 9780748626151. $28.50.

Reviewed by Susanne Wagner, Chemnitz University of Technology

Lindquist’s book is one of those rare ‘why did this take so long?’ finds everyone having taught (and—by necessity—having taught themselves in the process) corpus linguistics (CL) has been waiting for. It should become the default compulsory background reading for every student and researcher working in English CL today. Not only is the book written in a wonderfully accessible style, it also includes example studies from all areas of CL that can provide students and scholars with countless ideas for further research.

The first two chapters set the scene by discussing important background information concerning theoretical and practical concepts and the practical handling of corpora (e.g. tagging, statistics). Chs. 3–10 each focus on one research question, but always touch on general and far-reaching issues.

By way of example studies, many of which are based on Mark Davies’ web-based Brigham Young University (BYU) Corpora, L covers corpus-based studies in the fields of semantics (including lexis, collocations and colligations, lexical change, metaphor, and metonymy), grammar (passives, who and whom, grammatical change → grammaticalization, complementation patterns), and sociolinguistics (male versus female language with regard to both active language use and passive features such as the use of gender-marked versus gender-neutral terms). The author’s focus on corpora which are continuously updated/extended (BYU Corpora) and added to (e.g. international corpus of English, Brown family) ensures that the book will not be outdated in a couple of months (which is an abiding danger of any ‘how-to’ publication in the field). Along the same lines, L also wisely refrains from using one particular type of software for analysis.

The book combines a unique integration of historical facts and details with present-day questions, methodological caveats, and countless examples (forty-four figures, 101 tables). The way the author manages to casually include state-of-the-art research findings from areas such as sociolinguistics in a book of this type is nothing short of brilliant (e.g. colloquialization of English and role of gendered language).

Readers are familiarized not only with different types of corpora and their leading representatives, but also with historical background on CL in general (e.g. Otto Jespersen’s grammar as an early corpus-based grammar, the history of the Brown family). The author addresses countless methodological issues: e.g. the pros and cons of corpus-driven versus corpus-based work via issues of comparability, different types of statistics tests, and the advantages and disadvantages of qualitative versus quantitative studies.

L also addresses the usefulness of messy sources as corpora (particularly the internet and the Oxford English Dictionary quotations database), emphasizing that—as always in corpus studies—the researcher needs to be aware of their messy nature and the problems that entails. Once such issues are taken into consideration and carefully navigated, investigating corpora truly holds ‘joy and fascination’ (1).

The derivation of anaphoric relations

The derivation of anaphoric relations. By Glyn Hicks. (Linguistik aktuell/Linguistics today 139.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. Pp. xii, 309. ISBN 9789027255228. $165 (Hb).

Reviewed by Tommi Leung, United Arab Emirates University

Glyn Hicks’ The derivation of anaphoric relations examines how anaphoric relations in binding theory (BT) receive a novel analysis from the perspective of the minimalist program (MP).

Ch. 1 ‘Introduction’ recapitulates the basic history and tenets of BT and introduces the central agenda, i.e. how the current minimalist approach can account for the fruitful results given by BT. This is a major challenge to MP, given that the interest of BT has diminished in recent syntactic works that view BT as external to the narrow syntax. Ch. 2, ‘Binding theory and the minimalist programme’, summarizes the historical development of BT. The second part introduces several important notions in MP, e.g. minimal link condition and phase impenetrability condition. H argues that the theoretical challenge is to account for the myriad observations provided by BT while maintaining a simplistic theory of grammar.

Ch. 3, ‘The binding theory does not apply at LF’, points out the theoretical and empirical problems that emerge if BT applies at the logical form (LF). The evidence comes from the observation that principle B can be influenced by locality, phonological factors, morphological case, and verbal inflections that cannot be accessed at LF. In contrast, principle A potentially applies everywhere, including LF. By listing facts from reconstruction, quantifier scope reversal, and idiom chunk interpretations, H suggests that a narrow-syntactic approach to BT is more favored than the LF-approach.

Ch. 4 ‘Eliminating condition A’ attempts to eliminate condition A as a representational condition of grammar, and claims that anaphoric binding is an instance of Agree defined by MP. An Agree relation is established between the antecedent and the anaphoric with respect to ‘semanticosyntactic features’, e.g. referential features, operator features, and variable features. Since Agree is locality-constrained by means of (LF-)phase, the locality condition on BT can also be properly described.

Ch. 5, ‘Eliminating condition B’, claims that the binding domain for condition B is reduced to the phonetic form(PF)-phase. Condition B differs from condition A in that the binding condition of principle B cannot be reduced to Agree as argued in condition A. Alternatively, for a sentence to be grammatical, corresponding features of the pronoun and its locally c-commanding DP should not bear the same values. H claims that condition B is a violation of economy condition, since establishing dependencies (e.g. through Agree) is to ‘maximize featural economy’, whereas condition B is not.

Ch. 6, ‘Extensions to other Germanic languages’, looks at Dutch, Norwegian, and Icelandic pronominal and anaphoric systems. Crosslinguistic variation is attributed to the lexical feature specifications the languages employ, instead of defining different binding domains. Ch. 7, ‘Conclusions’, concludes that there is no binding theory as far as the particular mechanisms responsible for the binding facts are concerned. H’s attempt to completely eliminate BT from universal grammar, while meriting further empirical tests, is a significant step forward in the minimalist approach to grammar.

Abkhaz: A comprehensive self-tutor

Abkhaz: A comprehensive self-tutor. By George Hewitt. (LINCOM student grammars 3.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2010. Pp. 332. ISBN 9783895866708. $90.16.

Reviewed by Peter Freeouf, Chiang Mai University

Abkhaz, a member of the North West Caucasian language family, is spoken by around 100,000 speakers, primarily in Abkhazia, a small region on the Black Sea. The noted Caucasian scholar, George Hewitt, has produced what is both a marvelously detailed description and a self-instruction manual of this language.

The book begins with an introductory chapter (9–28) that includes background information on the location and history of the speakers, a summary of the complex segmental phonology and stress patterns, as well as charts displaying the two main Cyrillic scripts and the Georgian-based one used for Abkhaz with their International Phonetic Alphabet equivalents. This section ends with an extensive list of references (25–28).

There follow twenty lessons presenting the complex grammar of Abkhaz. The first two lessons deal with nouns, numerals, pronouns, adjectives, possessives, quantifiers, and expressions of time. The next group of lessons (Lessons 3–13) treats the intricate verbal morphology and the complex incorporation of pronominal agreement markers into verb forms. The morphosyntactic structures of the language are illustrated with numerous sentence examples and clearly-organized charts interspersed throughout each lesson. Lessons 14–17 present syntactic patters with numerous illustrative sentences. Lesson 18 deals with indefinite expressions and other features. Lesson 19 presents miscellaneous nominal, verbal, and adverbial affixes. The final lesson (Lesson 20) consists of texts in the official Cyrillic script accompanied by vocabulary lists.

Each lesson except the last begins with a short outline giving an overview of the grammatical topics to be treated. There are numerous paradigm charts for reference and lists of examples of each grammatical topic in other lessons. There is also an appendix that contains a ‘Supplement on numerals’ (299–301), a summary of the morphology (302–10), and a text in a Roman script proposed by the author (308–09).

For those who use the book to acquire active knowledge of the language, there are exercises with each lesson and a ‘Key to the exercises’ (311–31) concluding the book.  There is unfortunately no comprehensive word list included. While there is no index, the detailed table of contents enables the reader to locate grammatical topics easily enough.

Depending on the reader’s inclinations this admirable textcan serve as a veritable ‘teach yourself Abkhaz’ for self-instruction, a detailed reference grammar, or a source book for Caucasian specialists, comparativists, and typologists. It is a most welcome addition to the growing list of books on Caucasian languages published by this leading linguistics publishing house.

English linguistics

English linguistics: A coursebook for students of English. By Thomas Herbst. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2010. Pp. xv, 368. ISBN 9783110203677. $35.

Reviewed by Sabina Halupka-Rešetar, University of Novi Sad

Is there such a thing as English linguistics? While the field may not even exist, as Herbst notes in his preface, this textbook is meant to acquaint the reader with the basic concepts, ideas, and approaches relevant to the study of English.

Part 1, ‘The English language and linguistics’ (1–42), presents some important typological facts about English, and gives an overview of the principles of structuralist linguistics and the methods used in studying language (e.g. introspection, elicitation, corpora).

Part 2, ‘Sounds’ (43–82), comprises four sections on phonetics (phones, syllables, suprasegmental elements), phonology (phonemes, allophones, phonotactics), phonetic reality (problems of the phoneme concept, pronunuciation in connected speech), and contrastive aspects of phonetics and phonology. The goal is to introduce the smallest linguistic units of English while pointing out phonological aspects that might prove problematic for Germanspeaking learners of English.

Part 3, ‘Meaning-carrying units’ (83–140), is concerned with (i) analysing words into smaller units (e.g. types of morphemes, problems of morphological analysis), (ii) forming new words (e.g. word versus lexeme, word formation processes, productivity, and nonce-formations), and (iii) expressing meaning  in multi-word units (primarily collocations and idioms).

In Part 4, ‘Sentences—models of grammar’ (141–219), H explores the treatment of syntax in traditional grammars, touching on such topics as sentence and clause, subject and predicate, phrases, and word classes. Next, the concept of hierarchy is introduced (constituency, dependency), followed by a brief outline of case grammar and the basic principles of valency theory applied to English syntax. This part  ends with an overview of theories of grammar and language acquisition, notably Noam Chomsky’s approach and three usage-based approaches within the framework of construction grammar.

Part 5, ‘Meaning’ (220–64), is devoted to explaining the concepts of meaning, reference, and denotation. After introducing polysemy and homonymy, H addresses the problem of identifying distinct meanings and touches upon hyponymy, synonymy, and (the two main types of) antonymy. This part ends with an introduction to componential analysis and prototype theory.

In ‘Utterances’ (265–301), H examines the pragmatic concepts of word, sentence, and utterance meaning, Grice’s co-operative principle, types of speech acts, and issues relating to the text: cohesion and coherence, thematic structure and information structure, and spoken versus written texts.

The last part of the book, ‘Variation’ (302–29), focuses on register and dialectal variation in English with respect to pronunciation, the lexicon, and grammar. The textbook ends with a survey of types of linguistic change illustrated with some of the important changes in English.

The wide range of topics, the various perspectives taken, and the fact that each chapter begins with an accessible outline of basic terminology make this book a perfect introductory textbook. Additionally, as H demonstrates that there are no easy answers or straightforward solutions in linguistics and that linguistic phenomena can be viewed in many very different ways, the further reading sections will be appreciated by all advanced readers.


Adpositions. By Claude Hagège. (Oxford studies in typology and linguistic theory.) New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Pp. xiv, 372. ISBN 9780199575008. $130 (Hb).

Reviewed by Engin Arik, Okan University

English has prepositions, whereas Turkish has postpositions. But what are the general crosslinguistic characteristics, morphological features, syntactic functions, and semantic properties of adpositions? Claude Hagège aims to answer this question.

In Ch. 1, ‘Introduction’ (1–7), H gives a definition of adpositions as well as the scope and aims of the book. He defines adpositions as grammatical tools to mark the relationship between two parts of a sentence; an adposition governs a noun-like element. The author follows a functional and typological approach to analyze adpositions with a corpus of 434 languages from several language families, including Australian, Austronesian, Indo-European, Altaic, Caucasian, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Dravidian, Uralic, Papuan, and Sino-Tibetan languages. In Ch. 2, ‘Towards a comprehensive characterization of adpositions’ (8–105), H first compares and contrasts adpositions with case affixes and then examines the relationship between adpositions and adverbs. The chapter also attempts to distinguish adpositions from other linguistic elements such as preverbs, direction-pointers, direct/inverse morphemes, locative stems, and applicatives. In the last section of Ch. 2, he discusses terminology for adpositions, such as relator, case-marker, flag, and functeme.

The next three chapters are devoted to detailed morphological, syntactic, and semantic analyses of adpositions. In Ch. 3, ‘A crosslinguistic survey of the morphological diversity of adpositions and adpositional phrases’ (106–90), H starts with a discussion of the typological and geographical distribution of adpositions. He then focuses on the main types of adpositions according to their place in adpositional phrases (prepositions, postpositions, and ambipositions) and their morphological complexity (simple and compound). After that, adpositions and their relations with nouns and verbs are provided.

In Ch. 4, ‘Adpositions and adpositional phrases in a syntactic perspective’ (191–256), the author analyses adpositional syntax, starting with the contribution of adpositional phrases to syntactic structure as core and peripheral complements of verbal predicates. H examines the syntactic functions of adpositional phrases as adnominal complements, predicates, and heads of certain phrases and foci of sentences. Ch. 5, ‘Adpositions from the semantic point of view’ (257–329), investigates adpositions semantically from a crosslinguistic perspective, starting with the relationship between the syntactic functions of adpositions and their semantic content, particularly place, time, and relation. H studies the relationship between adpositions and poetic language, idiomaticity, and polysemy both diachronically and synchronically.

Ch. 6, ‘Conclusion and prospects’ (330–35), concludes that adpositions are a morphological category consisting of morphemes at the midpoint of the grammaticalization process. H highlights the importance of morphosemantics in studying adpositions and of relying on typological data. Indexes of languages, names, subjects, and notions round out this rich book, whose very promising analysis of adpositions provides a great wealth of data from hundreds of languages.

An introduction to historical linguistics

An introduction to historical linguistics. 4th edn. By Terry Crowley and Claire Bowern. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Pp. xxxii, 376. ISBN 9780195365542. $24.95.

Reviewed by Peter Freeouf, Chiang Mai University

This introductory text in historical linguistics is the posthumous edition of a textbook that first appeared in the early 1980s. Claire Bowern has revised and expanded this edition to take into account recent developments and advances in historical linguistics, e.g. the importance of grammaticalization, which in turn serves as a link between historical linguistics and typology.

The text is written in a style that can be easily understood by undergraduate students. The book includes numerous maps, tables, figures, an up-to-date chart of the International Phonetic Alphabet, and illustrative lists of examples. At the end of each chapter are ‘Reading guide questions’, ‘Exercises’, and ‘Further reading’, all of which provide ample opportunities for class activities and homework.

The bulk of the language examples come from languages of the Pacific and Australia, reflecting the scholarly background of the two authors. These languages, which have been extensively studied in the past century, serve also as clear models for the methods of historical linguistics that demonstrate their effectiveness and limitations quite well.

The first chapter, a broad introduction to the field, discusses the reality of language change. Chs. 2–4 discuss the various types of sound changes. The following five chapters, Chs. 5–9, present a traditional account of the principal methods of linguistic reconstruction as developed by scholars beginning in the nineteenth century: the comparative method and internal reconstruction. Recent statistical and computational methods are discussed in Ch 8. The authors use selected data from the closely related Polynesian languages to take the reader step-by-step through the procedures used to establish regular systematic sound correspondences in the basic vocabulary of the selected languages.

The next three chapters, Chs. 10–12, discuss changes in languages above the phonemic level: morphological (introducing the major types of analogical change), semantic, lexical (including borrowing), and syntactic change (including grammaticalization). Chs. 13–14 deal with more recent areas of research in the field, such as language change in progress, language contact, and the origin of pidgin and creole languages. The final chapter, Ch. 15, ‘Cultural reconstruction’, discusses the application of historical linguistics to the cultural sphere to discover undocumented aspects of societies and their histories.

Overall, this is a useful, comprehensive, and up-to-date introductory text in historical linguistics for undergraduate as well as graduate classes in linguistics. More careful editorial attention would have prevented the large number of misspellings and omitted words, among others, disappointing in a work from such a long-established and reputable publisher of linguistics texts.

Mapping spatial PPs

Mapping spatial PPs: The cartography of syntactic structures, volume 6. Ed. by Guglielmo Cinque and Luigi Rizzi. (Oxford studies in comparative syntax.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Pp. 304. ISBN 9780195393675. $49.95.

Reviewed by Asya Pereltsvaig, Stanford University

This volume is a collection of papers that deal with the one particular aspect of prepositional phrase syntax: the fine-grained articulation of prepositional phrases (PPs) that express spatial relations. This topic has been relatively neglected in the syntactic literature, a gap that this volume fills. It will be of interest to generative syntacticians as well as scholars of the languages discussed in it, including Romance, Germanic, and African languages.

The collection opens with an introduction by Guglielmo Cinque (‘Mapping spatial PPs: An introduction’) that reviews the relevant issues and summarizes the research in this area. Additionally, the volume collects seven articles, some written specially for this volume, others reprints of significant earlier work on spatial PPs. For example, the paper by Hilda Koopman (‘Prepositions, postpositions, circumpositions, and particles’) was first published a decade earlier—after circulating in unpublished form for some years—because ‘it constitutes the first elaborate cartographic analysis of the fine structure of PPs based on an in-depth study of Dutch and provides a background for many of the contributions to this volume’ (12). In line with the cartographic approach espoused by the authors of the first five volumes in the series, Koopman proposes an ‘exploded-PP structure’ that includes a PlaceP hosting stative prepositions inside a PathP hosting directional prepositions, as well as a number of other projections.

Marcel den Dikken’s contribution (‘On the functional structure of locative and directional PPs’) directly builds on Koopman’s by refining the structure and derivation of the lexical and extended functional projections of stative and directional Ps in Dutch and, and by drawing a parallel between the structure of exploded PPs on the one hand and clauses and noun phrases on the other.

Peter Svenonius (‘Spatial P in English’) further elaborates on the model proposed in these two studies with data from English. Máire Noonan (‘À to Zu’) adds French and German and argues for an even richer architecture of lexical and functional projections. Converging with her work, Arhonto Terzi’s contribution (‘Locative prepositions and place’) argues for the presence of a silent noun place, based on evidence from Greek. Enoch O. Aboh’s article (‘The P route’) is concerned with spatial PPs in West African languages. According to Cinque’s introduction, Aboh claims that ‘while Kwa languages have the ground DP between a directional/stative P and an (axial) part P (lit. to/at box inside), Chadic languages have the order directional/stative/P > (axial) part P > ground DP (lit., to/at inside box)’ (13). His insight is to relate this word order difference to the order of the possessum and the possessor in Kwa and Chadic languages by arguing that the ground DP is the possessor of the (axial) part P.

Finally, Werner Abraham’s contribution (‘Misleading homonymies, economical PPs in microvariation, and P as a probe’) is dedicated to microvariation in the use of morphological case and the linear order of PPs in non-standard varieties of German, where morphological case plays an important role in distinguishing between semantic stativity and directionality of otherwise homonymous PPs.