Monthly Archives: July 2012

Cognitive poetic readings in Elizabeth Bishop

Cognitive poetic readings in Elizabeth Bishop: Portrait of a mind thinking. By Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese. (Applications of cognitive linguistics 15.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2010. Pp. viii, 317. ISBN  9783110186109. $140 (Hb).

Reviewed by Taras Shmiher, Ivan Franko National University

This book contributes to the hermeneutical study of Elizabeth Bishop’s poetics. The author applies a theoretical framework grounded in cognitive linguistics, which focuses on individual poetic thought and expression. How the poet and the reader conceptualize the cognitive constructs of the human mind in a text is the crucial question explored.

Part 1 consists of an introduction (3–17) and two chapters. Cognitive poetics allows the researcher to trace the course of the mind in the language of Bishop’s poetry, incorporating such basic analytical categories as embodiment, the cognitive unconscious, metaphorical thought, prototypes, and conceptualist semantics. Ch. 1 (18–56) covers six dimensions of imaginative apprehension: the researcher chooses one cognitive process (e.g. categorization, image schemas, metaphors, conceptual integration, metonymies, narrative structure) and scrutinizes its applicability, which should be linguistically visible in Bishop’s text. This procedure makes possible the discovery of the poet’s mental processes that formed her linguistic expression. Ch. 2 (57–75) contains the readings of Bishop’s three licensing stories while investigating the two most salient cognitive domains of her conceptual universe: vision and travel. The analyst’s objective is to understand the relation between the mappings of these stories, the language of the poems, and the conceptual metaphors of her poetry. A survey of such mappings by critics of Bishop’s writings accompanies the main line of investigation.

Part 2 contains its own introduction (79–92) and eight case studies of cognitive readings of Elizabeth Bishop (93–262). Genetic criticism as the study of textual invention lies at the center of a discussion that presents new insights into the movement of the poet’s mind. Detailed analyses of Bishop’s poems include their drafts, manuscripts, transcripts along with the author’s notes, sketches, journal entries, and letters—everything that can be called her avant-texts. Cognitive poetics contributes to genetic criticism by depicting the mind thinking during the writing process, and the genetic assessment of compositional processes will be beneficial for cognitive research on the construction of meaning. The readings aim to incorporate both large compositional features and microscopic details into a cognitive analysis, unveiling in the framework of conceptualist semantics how a subject’s conceptualization contributes to the construction of meaning. The choice of poems for analysis was grounded on three principles: the availability of multiple versions, representativeness, and the thoroughness of the existing readings.

The epilogue (265–72) draws conclusions about mind reading on the part of the poet, Bishop’s conceptual and linguistic unities, and the movement of her imaginative apprehension. The introspective analysis here offers new prospects for linguistic analysts and literary critics. Three appendices include a chronology of Bishop’s life and activities, the ‘mind-as-body’ conceptual system (after George Lakoff and Mark Johnson), and ‘thinker-as-mover/manipulator’ mapping (after Mark Turner). The bibliography is divided into two parts—the primary sources (three topical groups) and works consulted (six groups)—and the book concludes with an index of names and subjects.

Handbook of generative approaches to language acquisition

Handbook of generative approaches to language acquisition. Ed. by Jill de Villiers and Tom Roeper. (Studies in theoretical psycholinguistics 41.) Dordrecht: Springer, 2011. Pp. 410. ISBN 9789400716872. $189 (Hb).

Reviewed by Dimitrios Ntelitheos, United Arab Emirates University

This book is a collection of articles summarizing some of the most important research projects within generative approaches to language acquisition. The book starts with a contribution by Nina Hyams, who discusses missing subjects in early child language. Hyams surveys a number of different theories accounting for the phenomenon, including those based on grammatical, pragmatic, prosodic, and processing factors. She concludes that null subjects can be explained by assuming a parametric option for children, but that other factors may also be at play, making the phenomenon more complex than initially assumed. Ken Wexler discusses the optional infinitive (OI) stage, characterized by the use of infinitival verbal forms in root contexts. He develops a maturational account of the relevant data, where children lack the ability to check more than one feature of the subject DP. The article offers a detailed discussion of empiricist models of the OI stage and shows that they cannot adequately capture the range of properties associated with this stage.

Charles Yang discusses computational models of language acquisition, including issues related to learnability theory, distributional learning models, learning as selection of the right model, and the subset principle, stressing that computational models of language development must be informed by linguistic and psychological studies of child language. Kamil Ud Deen explores the acquisition of passive structures. He shows that earlier assumptions about late acquisition of passive structures may not be accurate and that children have knowledge of the passive in earlier stages than previously assumed. Tom Roeper and Jill De Villiers turn the discussion to the acquisition of wh-questions, exploring movement rules in simple sentences, the logical properties of wh-structures, and crosslinguistic wh-movement constraints. Issues of binding and coreference are discussed in Cornelia Hamann’s contribution, which explores the interpretation of pronouns and related acquisition results. A critical discussion of binding theory, issues of bound variable configurations and coreference, the typology of anaphors, and crosslinguistic variation is followed by acquisition facts pertaining to pronoun-reflexive asymmetries and exceptional case marking (ECM) constructions.

Koji Sugisaki and Yukio Otsu review studies of the acquisition of Japanese syntax, evaluating the universal grammar approach to language acquisition. They show that abstract grammatical properties relate to certain syntactic phenomena of Japanese, such as case marking, floating numeral quantifiers, and wh-in-situ, are already present in the early stages of child grammar. Julien Musolino investigates grammatical isomorphism in the case of quantification. The author explores how children interpret isomorphic sentences but also builds a broader research program with extensions in learnability theory, the development of processing and pragmatic abilities, and linguistic theory in general. Finally, William Philip continues the discussion of quantification with an examination of the acquisition of universal quantification, including knowledge of the logical operation and related linguistic constraints. In addition, Philip presents the particular case of the exhaustive pairing comprehension error together with a new account based on new experimental results.

This book is essential reading for linguists interested in language acquisition studies and especially for both researchers and students seeking state-of-the-art reviews of some of the most important questions raised within generative approaches to language development.

Studies in political humour

Studies in political humour: In between political critique and public entertainment. Villy Tsakona and Diana Elena Popa. (Discourse approaches to politics, society and culture 46.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. x, 290. ISBN 9789027206374. $143 (Hb).

Reviewed by Ksenia Shilikhina, Voronezh State University

This book unites two diverse areas associated with two diverse modes of communication–politics and humor. The book includes eleven articles that adopt a variety of methodological perspectives: from discourse analysis and sociolinguistics to culture studies and theater semiotics. The articles, however, converge in their view of humor and its function in political discourse. Firstly, it is a way of expressing criticism and social control, and, secondly, it serves as a vehicle for promoting dominant values.

The contributions are grouped into three parts: the first focuses on humor used by politicians, the second on political humor in the media, and the third on humorous discourse in public debates. The introductory chapter is aimed at readers who are new to political humor. It introduces basic concepts of linguistic humor research and outlines genres and functions of political humor.

The first part of the book unites articles that analyze humor produced by politicians in various official settings (e.g. German Bundestag, Greek parliament, and Polish television debates). The official scene is traditionally perceived as incompatible with humorous discourse. However, data from different cultures show that humor is widely used in parliamentary discourse as a tool for avoiding serious discussions and for expressing public denigration and ironic criticism of opponents.

In the second part, the authors investigate cases in various cultures in which politicians and political views are the targets of humor. Satirical performance is a popular way of discrediting the public image.  The authors analyze satirical plays in post-Communist Romania, impersonations of Silvio Berlusconi staged by a popular Italian comedian, and satirical cartoons in Italian mass media. Because this kind of humor involves large audiences, it has become an important part of both political discourse and popular culture. Inevitably the question of censorship in different cultures comes to the fore to demonstrate the limitations of political satire.

The third part discusses the ethical aspects of humorous discourse. Liisi Laineste adopts a culturally embedded perspective and focuses on the use of ethnic jokes for political purposes in Estonia. The article by Vicky Manteli addresses humor in postmodern Greek theater. The political doctrine of Stalinism is in many ways analogous to the discourse of postmodern Greek theater, and both are targets of humor.

The final chapter, written by the editors, claims that political humor in its multiple forms and contexts is not simply a way of expressing discontent with certain political views or actions, but also a tool for constructing social identity. In this sense, humor is an integral part of political discourse and, as such, can be subject to linguistic analysis.

Although the diversity of social and cultural contexts in which political humor occurs might seem eclectic, this book shows how unified the field of humor studies is in its recognition of this diversity. A strong point of this book is its elicitation of responses to key questions in humor research in linguistics. The contributions included explicate the most important features of political humor and the wide range of functions and effects it can potentially produce.

Cognitive foundations of linguistic usage patterns

Cognitive foundations of linguistic usage patterns: Empirical studies. Ed. by Hans-Jörg Schmid and Susanne Handl. (Applications of cognitive linguistics 13.) Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2010. Pp. x, 277. ISBN 9783110205176. $137 (Hb).

Reviewed by Taras Shmiher, Ivan Franko National University

This book implements a usage-based methodology of cognitive linguistics, linking lexical and grammatical patterns with assumptions about their cognitive foundations. The authors bring together observed patterns of linguistic usage with cognitive-linguistic concepts and models having an empirical basis and they show a high level of awareness of theoretical and methodological limitations.

The collection is divided into two parts: the first set of five articles deals with psycholinguistic experimentation, quantitative corpus, and computational simulation; the second set verifies the applicability and explanatory potential of conceptual metaphor theory, the theory of idealized cognitive models, and construction grammar on the basis of empirical data. All of these principles are described in the introduction by the editors (1–9).

George Dunbar (13–32) shows how key properties for analyzing the distinction between ambiguity and vagueness can also be properties of a particular type of neural network–based computation. Factually, these turn out to be general principles of cognition, but not specific ones of a linguistic unit. Having extracted linguistic material from the 2000–2002 English and German public discourse on embryonic stem cell research, Olaf Jäkel (33–61) examines how contested issues of life and death can be seen as ‘boundary disputes’ over the denotations of some crucial lexical terms. The aim of the article by Brigitte Nerlich (63–88) is to contrast the scientific, social, and ethical implications of conceptual metaphors and those of discourse metaphors in the framework of generating expectations about science. Dylan Glynn (89–117) studies new usage-based techniques to identify semantic relations between near-synonymous words by applying a statistical method and by experiment with direct semantic analysis. Susanne Handl and Eva-Maria Graf (119–47) hypothesize, and prove, that in language acquisition the status of multi-item units changes from being used in a particular situation only to first-language (L1) speaker–like usage and also from representing unanalyzable blocks to a rich combinatorial application.

Ewa Dąbrowska (151–70) summarizes the results of several experimental studies on English questions with long-distance dependencies to show if speakers’ representations of linguistic patterns are indeed as general as the rules defined by contemporary linguistics. The article by Klaus-Michael Köpcke, Klaus-Uwe Panther, and Davis A. Zubin (171–94) is devoted to gender agreement in German and to the circumstances that motivate the conceptualization of the target of an agreement relation. Ulrich Detges (195–223) involves fundamental issues of synchronic and diachronic linguistics in discussing the usage of past-tense forms in polite questions. Thomas Herbst (225–55) integrates the findings of corpus and valence studies along with those of construction grammar and addresses the nature and degree of generalizations in L1 speakers’ minds. Patric Bach and Dietmar Zaefferer (257–74) focus on the question-assertion distinction and on how it derives from grammaticalization in the forms of declarative and interrogative sentences.

The book concludes with the list of contributors and an index of subjects.

Surnames, DNA, and family history

Surnames, DNA, and family history. By George Redmonds, Turi King, and David Hey. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. x, 242. ISBN 9780199582648. $28.82 (Hb).

Reviewed by David D. Robertson, University of Victoria

This approachable volume on British family names bridges revisionist genealogy and new genetic research in historical linguistics. Both the foreword and the preface intone Shakespeare’s quote, ‘What’s in a name?’, relevantly, as the book deals with claiming or repudiating one’s father’s (supposed) lineage. Without indicating so, the book is really comprised of two separate sections: Chs. 1–6 lay out onomastic issues and Chs. 7–9 tease apart biological questions. Greater integration of the two themes might make an already good read a superb one.

Certainly, DNA is mentioned only a handful of times before Ch. 7—usually to tantalizingly suggest how to resolve open research questions—but without developing these ideas. This part of the book is no less readable for it, however; many fascinating points are developed. We learn United Kingdom surnames with which scholars have traditionally simply assumed kinship and cognacy, based on superficial resemblances among names that often have distinct sources. Entrenched suppositions about a surname’s antiquity are frequently overturned when the oldest supposed exemplars are, in fact, informal sobriquets, not inherited family names. Surnames took centuries to become the established pattern of naming, diffusing from the highest classes, and in parts of Wales did not take hold until quite recently. Occupational names (and an interesting subtype, nicknames like Skarf ‘cormorant’ for a fisherman), long a shibboleth of British name studies, actually ‘were late to stabilize…a few were still not hereditary in the sixteenth century’ (22). Census and other historical demographic data, in tandem with such observations, allow many of Britain’s astonishingly diverse surnames (over 400,000 in number) to be traced to a single ancestral family living on an identifiable parcel of land. Numerous case-study maps vividly illustrate this (e.g. that of the Ashburners of Lancashire).

The briefer genetics-oriented second section, requiring different intellectual tools of the reader, provides background information on DNA (149–66). The discussion then moves to the connection between genetics and surnames. In a patrilineal society like Britain, lineage is culturally expressed in surnames; this can be compared against its biological expression in the Y-chromosome, which also passes from father to son. Examples of such gene-to-name correlations are discussed, like the ‘Sykes’ study and a study of forty British surnames. Caveats such as chance haplogroup similarity and the effects of genetic drift are considered, and powerful DNA tools, including the determination of ‘the most recent common ancestor’ among holders of a name, are demonstrated. The authors, thus, make a solid case for an interdisciplinary onomastics.

Certain inconsistencies in format and editing may distract the reader. For example, islands enter and disappear from maps. A glossary of relatively technical terms, like ‘by-name’ and ‘non-paternity event’, would be helpful. Also, the ascribing of popular-etymology name variation to ‘educated people’ (109) is an oversight. For the scholar, the lack of citation for many generic sources (e.g. ‘It was suggested some years ago’, 56; ‘Irish writers’, 94) is more frustrating and ought to be addressed in any second edition. These are not serious shortcomings, however, in such an otherwise well-presented book.

Telecinematic discourse: Approaches to the language of films and television series

Telecinematic discourse: Approaches to the language of films and television series. Ed. by Roberta Piazza, Monika Bednarek, and Fabio Rossi. (Pragmatics & beyond new series 211.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. xi, 315. ISBN 9789027256157. $143 (Hb).

Reviewed by Sofia Rüdiger, University of Bayreuth

As stated by the editors in the introductory chapter, the overarching goal of the individual contributions is to advance the understanding, description, and definition of telecinematic discourse (i.e. the language of television and cinema), its functionality and unique characteristics, and its relation to language in real life.

The first part of the collection is dedicated to cinematic discourse. In Ch. 2, Fabio Rossi compares the language of several Italian comedies with a reference corpus of spoken Italian relating the results regarding typical phenomena of film language to dubbing practices. Michael Alvarez-Pereyre offers a general assessment of the limitations and advantages of using film language for linguistic analysis. Rocío Montoro, in Ch. 4, uses a stylistics framework to analyze the realization of mind style in both the novel and movie Enduring love. In Ch. 5, Roberta Piazza examines the discourse of killers in realist horror movies and its deviance from pragmatic norms. The following chapter by Derek Bousfield and Dan McIntyre is an in-depth and multimodal case study of the interplay between linguistic and non-linguistic aspects of emotion and empathy in one specific scene in the movie Goodfellas. Rose Ann Kozinski (Ch. 7) employs the Dictionary of affect in language to analyze and quantify emotional language in James Bond films and compares the results to data from the Austin Powers parodies. Carmen D. Maier (Ch. 8) explores the multimodal composition of film trailers and introduces the generic structural stages of comedy film trailers.

In the second part of the collection, Michael Toolan (Ch. 9) opens the field of televisual discourse with his contribution on the incomprehensibility of dialogue in the television series The wire. In Ch. 10, Monika Bednarek uses keyword and cluster analysis to evaluate the diachronic and intersubjective stability found in the dialogue of televisual characters in Gilmore girls. Susan Mandala (Ch. 11) explores the development of positive and negative politeness in a cybernetic character of the science fiction series Star trek: Voyager. In Ch. 12, Claudia Bubel analyzes the construction of relationships through the shifting of alignment patterns in Sex and the city, a process which results in informing the audience about friendship circles on the screen. The following chapter by Brian Paltridge, Angela Thomas, and Jianxin Liu also employs data from Sex and the city, with an analysis of the construction of identity through the genre of casual conversation. Alexander Brock (Ch. 14) concludes the collection with a contribution on the manipulation of the language system to achieve humor in comedies.

The articles in this collection consist mainly of in-depth case studies of particular movies or television series, which offer valuable insights in the budding study of telecinematic discourse. The contents are based on several different perspectives and methodologies (e.g. pragmatics, discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, and stylistics) and most authors not only base their analysis on purely linguistic aspects but also use a multimodal approach to interpreting their data. Overall, this collection is a first step in the systematic analysis of telecinematic discourse and illustrates the need for further research in this field.

Language change in contact languages: Grammatical and prosodic considerations

Language change in contact languages: Grammatical and prosodic considerations. Ed. by J. Clancy Clements and Shelome Gooden. (Benjamins current topics 36.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. v, 241. ISBN 9789027202550. $135 (Hb).

Reviewed by David D. Robertson, University of Victoria

Originally published as an issue of Studies in language (33:2 [2009]), which resulted from several recent conference sessions, this volume brings contact linguistics—with its customary focus on the formation of (primarily) creoles—into dialogue with other subdisciplines and how they look at change in linguistic structures. The outcome is a stimulating collection of revised, expanded essays that suggest novel viewpoints on language contact, acquisition, and historical linguistics. The contributions are grouped into two general subjects: grammaticalization, reanalysis, and relexification (four articles), and prosody (three articles), the latter an exciting recent area of creolist inquiry.

Claire Lefebvre’s ‘The contribution of relexification, grammaticalization, and reanalysis to creole genesis and development’ argues that relexification—her ‘relabelling’—is the primary force in creole creation. She proposes a separate, second stage where grammaticalization and reanalysis can apply within the resultant lexicon and are identifiable from, for example, differences of word order and form. Adrienne Bruyn, in ‘Grammaticalization in creoles’, usefully distinguishes in Sranan actual and ‘apparent’ (i.e. pseudo-) grammaticalization; ordinary (gradual) and less ordinary (abrupt) grammaticalization, demonstrating the diachronic pace of each; calquing (‘polysemy copying’) at genesis (replicating source-language polysemy patterns without diachronic grammaticalization); and reanalysis of an already grammatical item into another grammatical function (which also is not grammaticalization).

 Bao Zhiming’s ‘One in Singapore English’ convincingly argues that entire substrate structures, not mere words, are what gets transferred into nascent contact languages; Singapore English one remarkably blends Chinese morphosyntax and English usage frequencies. Steven Matthews and Virginia Yip’s ‘Contact-induced grammaticalization: Evidence from bilingual acquisition’ demonstrates the possibility that bilingual first-language acquisition explains substrate influence in contact and other situations.

Shelome Gooden, Kathy-Ann Drayton, and Mary Beckman contribute the centerpiece of this volume, ‘Tone inventories and tune-text alignments: Prosodic variation in “hybrid” prosodic systems’. This article, using a unified autosegmental-metrical framework, rigorously examines the myriad analytical issues in the relatively new subfield of contact-language prosody. Major challenges that they identify include the likelihood of parsing ambiguities in contact situations (provocatively including fieldwork); the multiple possible typological outcomes of language change; and the potential failure of citation-/elicitation-based methodologies to identify ‘an intricate interplay of prominence markers at several levels of the prosodic hierarchy’ (171). Both creolistics and mainstream research stand to benefit from their insights.

Yolanda Rivera-Castillo’s ‘Subsystem interface and tone typology in Papiamentu’ is a good case study of such issues, applying a fine-grained prosodic analysis and concluding that this creole is both a ‘tone-restricted language’ and intonational in nature. Jeff Good’s ‘A twice-mixed creole? Tracing the history of a prosodic split in the Saramaccan lexicon’ suggests a novel kind of ‘mixed’ language, wherein part of the lexicon is marked for European-like pitch accent and part for African-like tone. He provides a compelling argument that this split represents post-genesis language mixing by Maroons wishing to establish a separate group identity.

The minor shortcomings of this volume are simply typical of collections of articles: less than optimal cross-referencing, sparse indexing, separate bibliographies rather than a master reference list, and idiosyncratic unexplained abbreviations.

Gramática del Castellano Antiguo: Primera parte: Fonética.

Gramática del Castellano Antiguo: Primera parte: Fonética. By Pedro de Múgica. (LINCOM classica 4.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2011. Pp. viii, 86. ISBN 9783862900787. $60.

Reviewed byJason Doroga, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This slim volume is a reprint of an 1891 monograph that was originally conceived as a multi-volume series on the grammar of Old Spanish. The author, Pedro de Múgica, states in the prologue that the motivation to write this grammar was to inspire the serious study of Spanish philology in his native country, which prior to the date of publication had not yet produced works of scholarship on par with nineteenth-century European philologists.

In the introduction (1–22), M describes the main phonetic and morphological differences between spoken (Vulgar) Latin and written (Classical) Latin in Iberia. He also discusses the loss of hiatic vowels (habeo > abjo) and the simplification of the case system in Vulgar Latin, and concludes with a discussion of words adopted into Old Spanish from languages other than Latin, including Arabic, Provenzal, and Basque. This monograph is limited to Old Spanish phonetics, but was part of a larger project, judging from the scope of the introduction.

Before describing the historical development of the Spanish sound system, M briefly discusses the conditions of sound change, including word stress and syllable structure (23–26). The next section (27–40) addresses the development of Spanish tonic and atonic vowels, followed by a discussion of the Spanish consonants, with a special emphasis on the development of the palatal consonants (40–73). M’s treatment of these sound changes is systematic and comprehensive. For example, he notes that a short, tonic Latin ‘o’ regularly produces a diphthong except when it appears before a yod (e.g. cornu > ‘cuerno’ but folia > ‘hoja’). The final section (73–86) presents dialectal variation attested in Old Spanish documents, including the diphthong ‘ou’ in Western dialects (e.g. couce for cauce), the elision of the dental fricative orthographically represented by ‘d’ in Andalusia (e.g. aentro for adentro), and the metathesis of liquid consonants (e.g. perlado for prelado). This section concludes with a list of lexical variation attested in the dialects of Bilbao and Santander. The prose is enhanced by numerous examples that illustrate M’s main points, and detailed (and oftentimes opinionated) commentary is provided in footnotes.

This work was published over one hundred years ago, yet M’s innovation and contribution to Spanish philology are evident. In particular, at a time when sound changes were assumed to be governed by universal principles of regularity, M acknowledges that phonetic variation is inherent to language and exhorts scholars not to ignore it. Throughout the text, M recognizes that Castilian lies on a broad Romance continuum and affirms that defining dialectal variation in terms of political and geographical delimitations is at best illusory.

There are details by which the modern reader will detect the age of this work. For example, no bibliographic references are included, nor is there a word index or a list of phonetic symbols, many of which differ from the modern standard International Phonetic Alphabet symbols. However, these points do not detract from the overall contribution of this volume. The book will be useful to anyone interested in the major sound changes that occurred from Latin to Spanish.

The complementizer phase: Subjects and operators

The complementizer phase: Subjects and operators. Ed. by E. Phoevos Panagiotidis. (Oxford  studies in theoretical linguistics.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Pp. xv, 285. ISBN 9780199584369. $55.

Reviewed by Abhishek Kumar Kashyap, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

This book, arising out of the ‘Edges in Syntax’ conference (Cyprus, 2006), deals with the syntactic behavior of the complementizer phrase (CP) and presents a rich range of data from  a number of languages, including English, Bavarian, (Brazilian) Portuguese, Italian, Danish, Greek, Hebrew, Dutch, German, and several Romance dialects. The book comprises ten chapters: an introductory chapter and nine empirical studies. The introduction reflects on the history of the emergence of the CP, highlights its syntactic potential, and introduces the issues that forthcoming chapters of the book explore. The chapters are thematically organized and distributed between two sections.

The first section, which concentrates on subject extraction, addresses a number of issues that relate to the most controversial phenomena of grammatical theories involving the subject (e.g. extraction, control, phi-features, and raising). Luigi Rizzi begins this section with an exploration of the properties of criterial freezing, and he seeks to stimulate further research by posing questions in the conclusion and throughout the chapter. Drawing on data from Greek, George Kotzoglou addresses a few important issues that relate to subject condition and how languages manage to escape its effect. Angel J. Gallego, in his chapter, examines what Chomsky calls edges and Chomsky’s hypothesis that ‘subextraction from edges gives rise to CED effects’, with reference to what Gallego and Juan Uriagereka call edge condition, drawing on earlier research and building on earlier findings.

In a detailed discussion, Anna Roussou investigates finite and non-finite complements in English and explores the implications for the properties of the subject with particular reference to to– and that-clauses. Clemens Mayr’s chapter is concerned with exploring the significance of phi-features (i.e. person, number, and gender) in Bavarian, with a focus on how complementizer agreement interacts with long distance subject extraction. Ana Maria Martins and Jaira Nunes, in the last chapter of the section, discuss another significant aspect of subject extraction,–raising, where they focus on ‘hyper-raising’ constructions (i.e. impersonal constructions involving A-movement out of finite clause).

The second section of the book builds on the discussions in the first section to complement an understanding of the syntactic behavior of the complementizer and provide insight into its features and structures. The three contributions in this section include one on the structure of complementizers in general and two devoted to the position of wh-constituents. M. Rita Manzini studies the structure and interpretation of complementizers in several Romance languages, and Omer Preminger studies nested interrogative constructions and the position of wh-constituents in Hebrew. Jeroen van Craenenbroeck, in his chapter, explores the differences between simple and complex wh-phrases, with central attention to the idea that there are two complementizer positions: the higher phrase head and a lower one dedicated to hosting operators.

This book will be of interest primarily to generative (morpho-)syntacticians. Individual chapters will also be of significance to researchers working on and interested in the individual languages included in the book.

Romani in Britain: The afterlife of a language

Romani in Britain: The afterlife of a language. By Yaron Matras. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010. Pp. xv, 255. ISBN 9780748639045. $105 (Hb).

Reviewed by Winifred Whelan, St. Bonaventure University

This book is a fascinating study of the birth (as far as it can be known), death (or serious decline), and afterlife of Angloromani in Britain. It includes a forty-one-page Angloromani lexicon, twelve pages of predecessor expressions by origin, a full list of references, and an index. Angloromani has been researched for many years by the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures of the University of Manchester. This book includes the results of that research and adds valuable new content.

Britain has three distinct ethnic Angloromani minorities: English/Welsh, Irish, and Scottish. These are people who live in caravans and are sometimes called travelers. Their history reaches back to before the middle ages, but they are thought to have arrived in England from Europe in the 1400s. They have always had their own internal way of speaking, which excluded outsiders, but the language was not ‘clean’ in the sense of being totally unique to them. Romani is defined by its speakers as a separate language. However, the Romani lexicon survives only in an English framework, which leads some people to think that it is ‘a Romani-flavored variety of English’. The author agrees that at the present time it is no more than a vocabulary inserted into the morphosyntactic framework of a host language. It uses full English inflection (e.g. past tense, definite articles, possessives, suffixes, plurals).

Inflected Romani in Britain declined in the middle of the 1850s, when there was a significant integration of travelers into the Romani community. The Romani began to use the language as a way to signal solidarity among family and group members. As opposed to an everyday language, it became a context for special effect, or as a way to relax the boundaries between internal and external groups. Conversationally, lexical insertions created an in-group flavor or key of the speech act and reflected group attitudes toward the state of affairs, creating a sense of solidarity.

The Romani use Angloromani to express emotional states such as fear, depictions of faults, money, death, sex, other taboo subjects, and warnings that would be incomprehensible to outsiders. Researchers found that Angloromani is used in narration (e.g. ‘My father used to say . . ,’) when sharing a childhood scenario, in how group solidarity acts to conspire against the mainstream, and in taboos or situations that may be embarrassing or discomforting. The speakers themselves think of Angloromani as a lost language, a broken language consisting of individual words as opposed to a natural conversation. This is consistent with their self image as a broken nation that has lost an important part of its identity. Attempts to revive Angloromani generally have not been successful.