Monthly Archives: December 2011

Aspect in grammatical variation

Aspect in grammatical variation. Ed. by James A. Walker. (Studies in language variation 6.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. vi, 150. ISBN 9789027234865. $143 (Hb).

Reviewed by Lynn D. Sims, Austin Peay State University

The contributions in this book discuss grammatical variation involving verbal aspect, and address methodological issues such as defining the variable context, operationalizing factor groups that condition linguistic variation, and determining the appropriate levels of analysis of aspect. The research in this volume is original and includes spoken and written corpora from a variety of languages.

The book contains nine chapters, beginning with James A. Walker’s (1–12) introductory chapter which provides a summary of standard aspectual distinctions and an informative overview of the variationist approach. In the following chapter, Scott A. Schwenter and Rena Torres Cacoullos (13–26) combine the concept of weak complementarity with a grammaticalization-path approach to delimit the envelope of variation in progressive constructions in Mexican Spanish and in present perfect versus preterit constructions in Peninsular and Mexican Spanish.

Arguing that context is relevant in a variationist analysis, Ronald Beline Mendes (27–47) discusses the use of estar + gerund and ter + past participle to express durative and iterative aspect in Brazilian Portuguese, and concludes that aspect is the dependent variable and the periphrastic construction is the conditioning factor group. Gerard Van Herk (49–64) uses coding factors such as temporal distance, adverbials, clause type, discourse situation, object type, and verb semantics to examine the diachronic (1420 to 2002) development of the English present perfect and proposes that smaller, more specific factor groups bring linguistic changes into clearer view.

To measure the grammaticalization of aller in Québec French, Carmen L. LeBlanc (65–79) examines correlations between three habitual forms and other aspectual distinctions expressed by sentence constituents. Factor groups are defined by stativity, boundedness, and durativity, and the variable context by a specific subject, a separate time frame, an overt syntactic/lexical clue, and validity of speech time. Becky Childs and Gerard Van Herk (81–93) test the influence of habitual aspect on verbal -s marking in Newfoundland English by first separating the habitual factor group into mental stance, stative, and non-stative subcategories and then by re-coding based on syntactic constructions: when(ever) clauses, habitual adverbs, and zero overt habitual markers. James A. Walker (95–109) separates stativity into lexical (stative versus non-stative) and sentential (durative) to analyze conditioning factors that influence the use of the progressive in early African American English and the use of bare verbs in Caribbean English and English-based creole.

In order to assess two hypotheses regarding lexical and derived sentential aspect in second language (L2) acquisition, Devyani Sharma and Ashwini Deo (111–30) examine past and progressive morphology in Indian English and argue that L2 English learners are sensitive to sentential aspect. In the final chapter, Hsiao-Ping Biehl (131–47) analyzes how younger and older adult Chinese speakers who have relocated to Ecuador mark tense and aspect in Spanish, concluding that the Spanish of the older adults is heavily influenced by the aspectual system of their first language.

While the chapters in this volume provide further insight into the concept of aspect from a variationist approach, the data, findings, and conclusions are also useful to aspectual studies in general.

Translation, resistance, activism

Translation, resistance, activism. Ed. by Maria Tymoczko. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2010. Pp. ix, 299. ISBN 9781558498334. $26.95.

Reviewed by Julie M. Winter, Gonzaga University

This collection of essays offers examples of translation work that is resistant and/or active in nature. The goal of the collection is to present evidence of resistance and activism in the history of translation in order to begin to build a theory of resistant translation. Although the editor states that the inspiration for the collection is the theoretical work of Lawrence Venuti in this area, it is important to note that the essays themselves are generally concrete descriptions of resistant translation rather than presentations of theoretical concepts.

It would be impossible to do justice to the eleven essays here. Instead I offer a brief summary of two in order to give the reader an idea of what translation as resistance or activism looks like. In ‘Translation and the emancipation of Hispanic America’ (42–62), Georges L. Bastin, Álvaro Echeverri, and Ángela Campo highlight the clearly activist role of translation in the emancipation process of Hispanic America during in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Influenced by the Enlightenment and the French and American Revolutions, the peoples of Spanish descent sought to break from Spain during this period. Activists translated and published banned works by authors such as Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson, as well as revolutionary songs. The authors of the essay trace the history of specific translations—how they were done, where they were published, the effect that they had, and what happened to the translators—and in the process offer a fascinating account of activist translation work. They write that the texts were ‘pretexts’, that is, a way to transmit revolutionary ideas in which the translators ardently believed (61).

Antonia Carcelen-Estrada in ‘Covert and overt ideologies in the translation of the Bible into Huao Terero’ (65–86) relates how the Bible came to be translated into Huao Terero, the language of the indigenous people of the Ecuadorian Amazon, called the Huaorani. Two threads run through this essay: one is the history of how the Huaorani came to be subjugated and exploited by outsiders, an endeavor led by missionaries set on translating the Bible into Huao Terero and converting the people to Christianity, and the other is the nature of the Bible translation that was carried out. The resistance in translation in this context has to do with how the Huaorani have managed to resist outsiders and their ways and beliefs, including Christianity, while seeming to comply.

Another essay that deals with a kind of quiet resistance to outsiders by way of translation is ‘Ne`e Papa I Ke Ō Mau: Language as an indicator of Hawaiian resistance and power’ by Pua`ala`okalani D. Aiu. Authors Mona Baker, Denise Merkle, Nitsa Ben-Ari, Brian James Baer, Paul F. Bandia, John Milton, Else R.P. Vieira, and Maria Tymoczko offer additional contributions in a wide variety of areas, such as translation of erotic materials and translation in political contexts.

These novel essays offer intriguing views into a variety of time periods, cultures, and events. They tell of translators’ amazing and sometimes heroic deeds, in the process taking the topic of translation out of the purely esoteric realm. Practically speaking, one could easily incorporate these essays into a course on translation history or even into an anthropological linguistics class, but the essays are also worthwhile reading for anyone interested in translation in general.

Locuciones verbales y combinaciones frecuentes

3,000 locuciones verbales y combinaciones frecuentes. By Adela Robles Sáez. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011. Pp. 351. ISBN 9781589017306. $59.95.

Reviewed by Louisa Buckingham, University of Nizwa

This monograph is a reference work for 4500 common verb-noun combinations in Spanish of varying degrees of idiomaticity, 3000 of which are explained in detail. The book is organized alphabetically according to the verb, and the list of verb-noun combinations is supplemented by additional boxes appearing at intervals throughout the work that contain expressions typical for a particular theme (e.g. sewing, making telephone calls) or combinations synonymous for a particular expression (e.g. expressions meaning the result of an action synonymous for quedarse ‘to become’).

The work begins with an introduction, in which the author discusses the terms locuciones verbales y combinaciones frecuentes (‘idiomatic verb phrases and frequent combinations’) and their importance to foreign language learning. The author provides an account of the criteria guiding the selection of expressions included in this book and the organization of each lexicographic entry. With respect to the selection of expressions, combinations were included that appear relatively frequently in the electronic corpus of the Real Academia Española, Corpus de Referencia del Español Actual (CREA) (‘Reference Corpus for Contemporary Spanish’). The Callfriend Corpus of Linguistic Data Consortium from the University of Pennsylvania was also used. Expressions that exhibited a high or medium-high level of frequency of combination (such as izar bandera ‘hoist a flag’) and high frequency of occurrence (e.g. tener esperanzas ‘to hope’) were included. No attempt was made to identify diatopic differences, however. Each entry appears under the verb (e.g. four entries appear under the verb caber ‘to fit’). A definition of the entry is given first, in which possible minor variations in form are provided, as well as synonymous and antonymous expressions. This is followed by an indication of formality and an analysis of the grammatical structure. Examples of the expression in context are provided (at least two) and, in some cases, also an example of incorrect usage. The entry closes with a list of related expressions and examples of their use.

The book concludes with an extensive appendix that contains additional lists of expressions arranged in tables (seventeen in total), such as expressions with the verb hacer ‘do’, which have a homologous simple verb (e.g. hacer comentarios, comentar; ‘make comments’, ‘to comment’), or lists of causative expressions with the verbs dar, causar, ocasionar, and provocar (all synonymous for ‘give’ or ‘cause’ in these contexts). An index is provided at the end.

The book is extremely easy to navigate and the entries are easily comprehensible for intermediate to advanced learners of Spanish. The work is intended to assist in the learning of idiomatic expressions and in the production and comprehension of texts. It is an outstanding reference book; while other such material comprising lists of idiomatic expressions is available on the market, none provides this degree of didactic support to the learner. Each brief entry provides precisely the information needed to comprehend the meaning of the expression, to understand how it differs from similar expressions, and to ensure that the learner is able to use it correctly.

Language diversity in the USA

Language diversity in the USA. Ed. by Kim Potowski. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. 346. ISBN 9780521745338. $37.99.

Reviewed by Jill Hallett, University of Illinois

This book features the twelve most common languages other than English (LOTEs) spoken in the United States, with additional chapters on language contact, Native American languages, and language policy. Following the chapters are notes, media resources, references, and an index.

In the introductory chapter, Kim Potowski corrects myths about non-English languages in the United States. Suzanne Romaine’s chapter on language contact follows, which discusses bilingualism, introducing issues of identity, language loss, and revitalization.

The following thirteen chapters each feature an introduction, background and current sociolinguistic context, a conclusion, and discussion questions. Teresa L. McCarty’s ‘Native American languages in the USA’ illustrates indigenous situations preceding LOTEs brought by immigration, and includes four case studies of language revitalization efforts.

The top twelve LOTEs in the United States (Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, French, Vietnamese, German, Korean, Russian, Italian, Arabic, Portuguese, and Polish), listed from most- to least-common, are addressed through lenses of history, demographics, public presence (in government, media, and education), and evidence of maintenance and shift.

Several issues recur among these twelve chapters. Third-generation language shift to English is endemic across all LOTEs, despite beliefs that some languages threaten English in the United States. Shift from Vietnamese to English takes only 1.3 to 2.0 generations; shift from Polish to English may take longer due to the history of Polish heritage and parochial education. Domain shift often indicates impending shift to English.

Many authors call for heritage language education; while common languages such as Spanish are beginning to make headway in this area, languages such as Russian and Tagalog lag. Yun Xiao calls Chinese heritage language education a top priority. Authors also bemoan a lack of presence in kindergarten through twelfth-grade education. While languages such as Italian, Arabic, Portuguese, and Polish may be fairly common at the university level, they are rare in secondary education.

Many LOTEs are on the increase, but some early immigrant languages (such as French, German, and Italian) are in decline. Where speakers of a number of dialect backgrounds (e.g. Italian and Arabic) share LOTEs, varieties may converge to a common United States dialect of that language, which excludes some mother varieties and compromises linguistic identity.

The distribution of these twelve languages within the United States is also of interest. Michigan is home to a large percentage of Arabic speakers; Illinois is the state with the highest number of Polish speakers; many American speakers of varieties of French and Creole live in Louisiana; and California and Hawaii host a number of speakers of Asian languages. The public presence in these areas is higher than in other parts of the country.

The final chapter in the volume discusses language policy and planning, noting recent issues over the degree to which LOTEs should be accommodated in the United States. Terrence G. Wiley recommends embracing multilingualism and offers a national policy that promotes English while respecting home languages, while suggesting that we move beyond the myth of the United States as a monolingual nation.

Heterogeneity in word-formation patterns

Heterogeneity in word-formation patterns. By Susanne Mühleisen. (Studies in language companion series 118.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. xiii, 245. ISBN 9789027205858. $143 (Hb).

Reviewed by Eric A. Anchimbe, University of Bayreuth

Morphological change in language is often investigated in either only historical or synchronic terms. In this book, the author rather adopts a diachronic-synchronic approach in her attempt to trace the career of -ee words from medieval legal use to contemporary online usage and even potential new -ee word formations. From a close description of the origin of -ee word-formation, its development over several centuries, and contemporary influences on it, she considers -ee suffixation a language contact phenomenon, which in the case of English, is naturally productive given the varied multilingual contexts in which the language is used. With the help of the largest uncoded corpus (i.e. the World Wide Web), she integrates this diachronic-synchronic approach into the study of varieties of English.

The issue of non-nativeness often raised against the standards of non-native, especially second-language (L2), varieties of English by skeptics and prescriptivists is resolved thus: ‘While the (likely) inclusion of non-native speaker creations in the study of neologisms in English may be seen by some as distorting the value of the results, I would like to argue that non-native speaker contributions in a globalized English have been a reality for a long time and cannot be ignored’ (11). By including Indian and Jamaican Englishes in the analysis alongside British, Australian, American, and New Zealand Englishes, the author accords authenticity to new English varieties spoken in postcolonial communities.

The book is divided into six chapters, focusing on polsysemy, heterogeneity, and ambiguity in word-formation (Ch. 1); constraints on the formation of -ee words (Ch. 2); a diachronic analysis of the career of -ee words from medieval legal use to nineteenth century ironic nonce words (Ch. 3); the creativity and productivity of -ee words (Ch. 4); a corpus-based investigation of 1000 potential new -ee words (Ch. 5); and -ee words in varieties of English (Ch. 6). The conclusion calls for more studies that take into account ‘possible variabilities of a word-formation pattern by using not only a synchronic but also a diachronic perspective…not in a regional and contextual void but…in different varieties of English’ (192).

This book successfully bridges the gap between synchronic and historical approaches to word-formation by carrying out a carefully document analysis of the history of -ee word-formation and combining it with an investigation of various synchronic syntactic and semantic patterns of word-formation. Language contact has always been instrumental in making ‘processes such as borrowing and parallel changes in correlative and homophonous word-formation pattern’ (17) relevant to any investigation of -ee word-formation. The concise history of the -ee words and the elaborate description of syntactic and semantic characteristics of 1000 potential new -ee words, make this book a suitable reading for scholars interested in both the diachronic and synchronic aspects of word-formation as a whole. Using the Internet as a source of data—no longer disputed today—helps capture the rapid globalization and internationalization of English and gives a clear view of the creativity and productivity of-ee suffixation in the hands of both native and non-native speakers (though no such distinction is made here).

Cameroon English morphology and syntax

Cameroon English morphology and syntax: Current trends in action. By Paul N. Mbangwana and Bonaventure M. Sala. (LINCOM studies in English linguistics 15.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2009. Pp. 302. ISBN 9783895865220. $99.

Reviewed by Eric A. Anchimbe, University of Bayreuth

This book is a new addition to the growing literature on grammatical and structural aspects of new English varieties in postcolonial areas. It adopts an emic approach that aims to identify morphological and syntactic features and to describe them in terms of their motivation and innovation among Cameroonian users of English independent of British English rules. This non-contrastive approach adds to the authenticity of the Cameroon variety of English (CamE) and further indicates that the process of indigenization or nativization is ongoing and gives the language an ecological flare that reflects the context in which it is now used.

The six chapters in the book tackle issues of origin and definition of CamE (Ch. 1), theories and analytical approaches to new Englishes (Ch. 2), morphological processes in CamE (Ch. 3), phrase structure and embedding in CamE (Ch. 4), syntactic transformations (Ch. 5), and stabilized features of CamE and the patterns of their emergence (Ch. 6). Several morphosyntactic aspects of CamE that are barely mentioned in previous literature are investigated in greater detail in this book. These include the use of affixes; noun, verb, adverb, and adjective markers; multiple functions of –ing; remorphemization and demorphemization processes at the morphological level; functional descriptions of that-clauses, that-adverbials, when-clauses, until-clauses, question transformations, and issues of dangling modifiers, modifier stranding, modifier focusing, and disjuncts at the syntactic level. Although the above aspects are discussed and extensively exemplified using a corpus of oral and written CamE, the authors do not claim that all of them constitute the standard. Standardization of CamE grammar is one of the aims of the book; the authors claim in the preface, ‘this book is timely because it falls within linguistic concerns of researchers in the domain, as getting a standard for CamE through adequate description is a major preoccupation of ongoing research work’ (9).

In Ch. 6, the authors advance explanations and hypotheses for the variant processes investigated in the book. Indigenization, they say, is aided by differences between Cameroonian and British cultures and the general sociophysical ecology as well as semantic and structural pressures on Cameroonians to produce structures understandable to the local audience. These pressures which result in various types of conceptual transliterations could be explained using the grating-over-transfer hypothesis and the imposed-versus-imposing variety hypothesis proposed by the authors. In both hypotheses, speakers of the variety are regarded as references for its standard, which may not always be the same as the inner-circle standards.

The book comes across as a useful, quick-to-access reading on the morphosyntax of CamE. Though certain claims made therein are strong and not always supported by empirical evidence, the authors’ attempt to describe CamE in its sociohistorical context is commendable. Their description of CamE features is illuminating, especially when the features are considered as emerging out of the speakers’ convenience with use of the language for daily interaction. The appendix provides more examples of CamE syntactic structures taken from written sources (i.e. novels). Scholars of World Englishes, sociolinguistics, contact linguistics, African linguistics and cultures, and linguistic anthropology will find this book relevant both as an introductory text and as a research companion.

Creoles, their substrates, and language typology

Creoles, their substrates, and language typology. Ed. by Claire Lefebvre. (Typological studies in language 98.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. ix, 626 pp. ISBN 9789027206763. $158 (Hb).

Reviewed by David Gay, Bloomington, IN

As Claire Lefebvre writes, because ‘creole languages draw their properties from both their substrate and superstrate sources, the typological classification of creoles has long been a major issue for creolists, typologists, and linguists in general’ (3). The authors of the essays in this volume explore both the problem of substrate influence on creoles and the question of whether or not creoles form a typologically distinct group of languages.

The volume is divided into five parts. The first is a long introduction by the editor, ‘The problem of the typological classification of creoles’, in which the specific problems that the contributors address, as well as their results, are outlined. The introduction is followed by three sections on the creoles: the first, ‘Creoles spoken in Africa and in the Caribbean’ looks at the influence of African languages on Santome, Portuguese Creole, Kriyol, St. Lucian and Haitian Creole, Saramaccan, Papiamentu, Belizean Creole, Nicaraguan, Providence and San André Creole Englishes, and Palenque. The second section looks at creoles spoken in Asia, which includes Singapore English, China Coast Pidgin, Chabacano, Kupang Malay, and Sri Lankan Malay. The third section examines creoles spoken in the pacific, with essays on Papuan Malay, Central Australian Aboriginal English, Australian Kriol, New South Wales Pidgin, Solomon Islands Pijin, and Tayo. The final section is comprised of a concluding essay, ‘Creoles and language typology’, by Bernard Comrie.

The evidence for substrate influence is occasionally stretched further than it should be, and the authors occasionally demonstrate less knowledge than might be expected of the dialects, colloquial languages, and standard languages that form the superstrate languages, and also of other creoles and pidgins. However, overall, the essays present an intriguing look at just how the substrate languages influence the creoles.

The question remains: do the creole languages form a typologically distinct group? As Claire Lefebvre notes, ‘creoles manifest a great deal of variation among themselves [and] thus they cannot be claimed to be “alike” in any sense of the word, nor to constitute a typological class as such’ (30). However, even if one of the conclusions of the volume is negative, this still remains an important work on the influence of substrate languages on pidgins and creoles. As such, it should be included on the reading list of anyone interested in pidgins and creoles, language contact, and language typology.

Compound stress in English

Compound stress in English: The phonetics and phonology of prosodic prominence. By Gero Kunter. (Linguistische arbeiten 539.) Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Pp. xii, 225. ISBN 9783110254693. $150 (Hb).

Reviewed by Karen Steffen Chung, National Taiwan University

English compound noun stress is a relatively neglected area of English phonetics and phonology, with some notable exceptions, such as Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle’s groundbreaking classic, The sound pattern of English. Gero Kunter has invested considerable effort in addressing this deficit in the present volume, a revised version of his PhD dissertation.

This work is not, as some might expect, a comprehensive list of the rules and ‘exceptions’ of English compound noun stress—for these, the reader is directed to the work of researchers such as University College London’s John Wells. The largest part of this work is a highly detailed, step-by-step description of the methods and procedures K followed to investigate the acoustic and other features of English compound nouns (e.g. fire fighters), as opposed to phrases (e.g. Libyan fighters), collected from his chosen corpus, the Boston University Radio Speech Corpus.

Using a spoken corpus has the strength of providing real native-speaker data. In some cases the readers were asked to read in a non-radio style, which is crucial, since news readers tend to use a strongly emphatic style in order to hold listener interest, in the process often overruling compound noun stress patterns. Possible drawbacks are, first, that the collection of examples is necessarily limited to what occurs in the corpus, something K is well aware of, and to what the researcher recognizes as compounds; and second, that the examples are subject to all kinds of contextual, syntactic, and pragmatic influences, such as newness of the information and sentential position, which are mentioned (e.g. in Ch. 8) but not treated in depth in this study.

The use of listeners to identify the stress patterns of the collected corpus items shows how untrained native speakers may have trouble accurately describing what they hear, in spite of being able to produce the forms correctly themselves with ease (49). K also analyzed his data instrumentally with Praat software, using a number of parameters, such as duration and intensity, to rate, confirm, and quantify the evaluators’ judgments.

A significant finding: the length of the left element is invariant in both left-prominent and right-prominent compounds, demonstrating that ‘right prominent’ compounds, like brick wall, are indeed stressed on both syllables, even though the right-hand element may sound more prominent due to accentual tonic stress (68).

K considers three main approaches to account for compound prominence patterns: structural differences, semantic properties, and analogical effects. K comes down in favor of the third approach, though he concedes that the first two approaches can account for ‘a significant proportion of the observed prominence patterns’ (204).

An issue that perhaps could have been explored in greater depth is the compound-like behavior of many -ic and -al type phrases composed of an adjective and a noun, such as political system and economic situation. Nevertheless, for anyone interested in learning about some hands-on approaches to laboratory phonetics and phonology methodology, this book could serve as a useful reference.

Spanish through time

Spanish through time. By Flora Klein-Andreu. (LINCOM Coursebooks in linguistics 18). Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2010. Pp. xvii, 187. ISBN 9783895864308. $59.

Reviewed by Jason Doroga, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This book is an introduction to the history of Spanish, providing a coherent and succinct account appropriate for the general reader interested in the development of the language. Even though it is intended as an introduction, there is a considerable range of topics covered with a particular emphasis on the evolution of phonology and morphology from Latin to Spanish.

In a brief introductory chapter, the author presents the underlying theme of the book: language change is the result of changing sociocultural conditions as well as ‘physical and psychological (cognitive) capabilities and limitations of human users’ (1). The author suggests that the developments discussed in the three main sections of the text (‘Romance’, ‘Castilian’, and ‘Spanish’) may be viewed as examples of these basic concepts.

In the ‘Romance’ section, Chs. 2–4 (6–28) deal with the expansion of Latin in the Roman Empire and the influence of other languages (e.g. Celtic and Basque) on Vulgar Latin. In Chs. 5–6 (29–48) the author asserts that speakers (especially adult speakers of other languages) preferred the greater transparency of analytic/synthetic morphology of Vulgar Latin, as evidenced by the development of the –mente adverbs, comparative and superlative forms, the future and conditional tenses, the passive voice, and the perfect tenses in Romance. The evolution of the sound system is presented in Chs. 7–10 (49–89). The author clearly explains the essentials of articulation and syllable division (49–59) before exploring the effects of the readjustment of the stress system and syllabification on the consonant and vowel systems (60–82). Ch.10 (83–89) presents textual evidence of these changes. A discussion of Germanic, Arabic, and French influence on the language concludes this section.

The ‘Castilian’ section also presents major developments in morphology and in the sound system. Chs. 14–16 (105–16) discuss Castilian verbal morphology and link morphological change to phonological change by demonstrating that many verb irregularities (in particular stem-changing paradigms) are simply the result of sound changes that affect only the stem in specific phonetic environments. The rise of Castilian and the standardization of linguistic forms in the Peninsula during the Reconquest is discussed in Chs. 17–18 (119–28). Also included is a discussion of modern changes in the sound inventory, most notably a clear description of the development of the current sibilant inventory. Ch. 20 (142–55) covers morphological and lexical changes, including topics such as terms of address and the grammaticalization of haber.

The ‘Spanish’ section (which is considerably shorter than the previous two) presents the major characteristics of Spanish as a world language. Ch. 21 (156–65) discusses morphological features of American Spanish while the final two chapters (167–76) discuss the influence of the Academy and English on the modern language. 

As the title indicates, this book is meant to be an introduction, and it does not presume any previous linguistic knowledge. The author’s intention is not to provide new analyses but to condense a vast amount of scholarship into a highly readable format. While some topics are discussed minimally (e.g. the standardization of Castilian is only superficially treated) and some readers may miss having a word index/glossary, the author most certainly succeeds in effectively explaining key concepts and cogently introducing many of the processes involved in the history of the Spanish language.

Varieties of English in writing

Varieties of English in writing: The written word as linguistic evidence. Ed. by Raymond Hickey. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. 378. ISBN 9789027249012. $135 (Hb).

Reviewed by David Elton Gay, Bloomington, IN

As the back cover of the book accurately explains, this book is a collection of essays ‘concerned with assessing fictional and non-fictional written texts as linguistic evidence for earlier forms of varieties of English.’ Historical linguists of course use literary texts all of the time, but the essays in this book look more closely at the important methodological and interpretive issues involved in using literary texts than most books on historical linguistics or the history of English.

The book opens with two essays that focus on Early Modern English. In ‘Linguistic evaluation of earlier texts’ Raymond Hickey examines, among other topics, the question of Standard English in regard to studying earlier English and the representation of dialect in writing. Standard English is a product of the eighteenth century, yet it is often—and misleadingly—used to evaluate forms encountered in earlier English. Claudia Claridge and Merja Kytö’s ‘Non-standard language in earlier English’ examines standard and non-standard forms of English in Early Modern English. They observe that ‘finding evidence of non-standard…is…not an easy undertaking.’ (35) This essay is better read, however, as a study of the emerging standard and its relationship to other forms of English.

Philip Durkin’s essay, which follows, ‘Assessing non-standard writing in lexicography’ looks at ‘the treatment of non-standard and regional varieties of English in historical dictionaries, especially the OED.’ (43) His essay offers a useful description of ‘the OED’s policy decision in dealing with written evidence for non-standard varieties [of English].’ (57)

The essays that follow concentrate on different regional varieties of English, beginning with a group of essays on forms of English found in the British Isles. Katie Wales covers Northern English in writing between the years 1500–1900. Gunnel Melchers describes Southern English in writing during the same period. J. Derrick McClure’s essay describes attitudes towards early modern and modern Scots, followed by an essay called ‘Irish English in early modern drama: The birth of a linguistic stereotype’ by Raymond Hickey. An essay on British Isles English by Kevin McCafferty rounds out this regional grouping.

The following essays take on forms of English found outside of the British Isles, beginning with Lisa Cohen Minnick’s essay ‘Dialect literature and English in the USA: Standardization and national linguistic identity’. Stefan Dollinger then looks at written sources for Canadian English, with special reference to ‘[p]honetic reconstruction and the low-back vowel merger’ (197). Bettina Migge and Susanne Mühleisen offer a survey of ‘research on early written texts in the Anglophone Caribbean and…a critical look at the theories and methods employed to study the texts’ (223) in their essay. Daniel Schreier and Laura Wright describe the sources for the earliest St Helenian English in writing. The following essay, ‘An abundant harvest to the philologer?’, by Lucia Siebers, describes the sources, and problems with the sources, for early South African English. Kate Burridge then looks at the sources for early Australian English in her essay ‘A peculiar language: Linguistic evidence for early Australian English’. In the book’s final essay, Elizabeth Gordon examines the sources for early New Zealand English.

This is an excellent collection of essays on the problems and methods in using literary and other written works as historical evidence of dialect and non-standard forms in English.