Monthly Archives: September 2012

Portuguese missionary grammars in Asia, Africa and Brazil, 1550-1800

Portuguese missionary grammars in Asia, Africa and Brazil, 1550-1800. By OttoZwartjes. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. (Studies in the history of the language sciences 117.) Pp. xiv, 359. ISBN 9789027246080. $165 (Hb).

Reviewed by David D. Robertson, University of Victoria

Otto Zwartjes, a figure central to the recent emergence of a ‘missionary linguistics’, here examines some of the earliest extant Portuguese-language descriptions of (then) newly encountered languages, as well as of Arabic and Hebrew. Geographically themed chapters ask sets of questions about the analysis and presentation of each of several language families by Catholic missionaries, who as a group were well educated in ancient traditions of (Indo-) European grammar writing. Their productions can be challenging to analyze; Z aptly observes that ‘as often happens in missionary linguistics, the boundaries between language [description] and meta-language [analysis] are not always easy to draw’ (232).

Z consistently discovers that while the Greco-Roman tradition colored writers’ understanding of these unrelated languages—a shibboleth concept motivating modern linguists’ neglect of missionary sources, nearly all authors he investigates clearly recognized and grappled with the actual characteristics of the languages they were learning. (This is an understandable result because their intent was to preach and convert, and to train other missionaries to do likewise.) In consequence, these Portuguese documents routinely attempt to expand the Roman alphabet’s capabilities to represent unfamiliar sounds (e.g. the high central vowel in Brazilian languages) and sometimes use existing local orthographies (as for Japanese or Tamil). Another corollary of this often-overlooked attention to linguistic detail is the missionaries’ tendency to innovate grammatical terminology for phenomena never dealt with in ancient Europe (such as ergativity), and for already-recognized structures whose membership and behavior differs across linguistic families (such as prefixes). Such innovations—as the Europeans perceived them—included adopting existing metalinguistic terms such as a Japanese part-of-speech distinction.

Of similar importance are Z’s observations on some of the earliest approaches to the problem of creating Christian terminology in new environments. Because the target audience was non-European, missionaries were compelled to resort to trial and error, comparing the results they achieved from coinages and from Portuguese or Latin loans. Further cross-cultural value in the missionary grammars is evident when they include ethnographic information (cf. 140, 170).

Readers who are multilingual may get the most out of Z’s study, as he extensively quotes historical Portuguese, Latin, French, and Spanish sources, often without English translation. Comparability among the examples he cites is unfortunately inhibited by the infrequency of glossing with modern linguistic terminology. Throughout the book, Z conscientiously and appropriately points out the issue of anachronism. This is the danger of judging older studies according to present-day linguists’ practices, though in a number of passages, he evaluates particularly perceptive missionary analyses as ‘correct’ (e.g. 131, 235, 263). There is no reason not to search these old sources for their treatment of the categories now, for the most part, recognized (as in R. M. W. Dixon’s Basic linguistic theory) as general across the world’s languages, so that it is somewhat surprising when occurrences of numeral classifiers are not labeled as such (132), but overall this is an insightful and eye-opening study of an area of linguistics which will be somewhat ironically new to many readers.

Perspectives on corpus linguistics

Perspectives on corpus linguistics. Ed. by Vander Viana, Sonia Zyngier, and Geoff  Barnbrook. (Studies in corpus linguistics 48.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. xvi, 256. ISBN 9789027203533. $143 (Hb).

Reviewed by Ksenia Shilikhina, Voronezh State University

This book comprises fourteen interviews with leading corpus linguistics scholars (namely, Guy Aston, Paul Baker, Tony Berber Sardinha, Susan Conrad, Mark Davies, Stefan Th. Gries, Ken Hyland, Stig Johansson, Sara Laviosa, Geoffrey N. Leech, William Ernest Louw, Geoffrey Sampson, Mike Scott, and John M. Swales) who present their theoretical positions and practical experience within the field of corpus research. Seven questions are addressed to all contributors; three questions concern specific areas of corpus linguistics and its applications (e.g. using corpora in translation, historical linguistics, crosslinguistic research, or teaching languages). The contributors discuss the origin of corpus linguistics, its present status, methods of corpus research, and the choice of research questions.

Responses to the question of the status of corpus linguistics reveal the diversity of views that coexist in the field. Some contributors consider corpus linguistics to be both a science and a methodology: However, not everyone supports this view: to say that corpus linguistics is a methodology is too little; to call it a science is too much.   As a compromise, Conrad suggests that corpus linguistics can be classified as ‘an approach to studying languages’ (49). It incorporates multiple projects with different research goals and different amount of effort put into the work.

The contributors discuss the controversial issue of corpus representativeness and suggest ways of improvement, e.g. increasing a corpus size or working out criteria for an adequate description of communities of language users. Another thorny question concerns the role of intuition in conducting a corpus study. It cannot be fully excluded from linguistic research; however, because intuition is unreliable, it should not precede a corpus search.

The use of corpora is not a cure-all solution for linguistics. That is the reason why in each interview there is a question about the strengths and weaknesses of corpus research. Among the strong points, the linguists name authenticity of data and availability of statistical methods of data analysis: this combination allows for studying patters of language use. Representativeness of corpora remains the major weakness of corpus linguistics.

Computer technologies and linguistic corpora transform our view of how language is used. They also change analytical techniques of linguistic research. So, perhaps the most important is the question of the technological and linguistic future of corpus linguistics. According to the contributors, corpora can contribute to practical research in multiple natural language processing applications, such as machine translation systems or ontologies.

The final three questions address various topics of corpus research, including types of existing corpora, techniques of data annotation, comparability of corpora, use of statistics in data analysis, public availability of corpora, and the level of technical expertise required for creating and using corpora.

Each chapter is comprised of an interview and an essay, and the variety of responses shows the diversity of approaches as well as the gains and losses of corpus linguistics. This book is a timely publication. The rapid growth of the field in the past decades, and the research ambitions and the variety of approaches presented in the book, reflect the need for clarification of the core concepts and research approaches in corpus linguistics.

The development of grammar

The development of grammar: Language acquisition and diachronic change. Ed. by Esther Rinke and Tanja Kupisch. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. 414. ISBN 9789027219312 $113 (Hb).

Reviewed by Dennis Ryan, University Writing and Language Consultants

This book originates from workshop papers on language development delivered by former students and colleagues to honor Jurgen M. Meisel, Professor of French, Spanish, and Portuguese at the University of Hamburg. Meisel has spent his career focusing on language development, revealing important similarities and crucial differences in first-language (L1) and second-language (L2) acquisition, including that the processes are fundamentally different. Meisel has also demonstrated empirically that bilinguals from birth learn languages in basically the same way as monolinguals.

In keeping with Meisel’s research, articles in Part 1 examine similarities and differences in L1- and L2 acquisition. For example, Suzanne Schlyter, in ‘Tense and aspect in early French development’ (47–74), concludes that early-age learners of French between 3–5 and seven years ‘having Swedish as a first or concomitant language’ (47) show clear language-learning differences from bilinguals. They surprisingly use more tense forms than child bilinguals and refer to the distant past in passé composé (the past-perfect tense), which child bilinguals do not.

In Part 2, ‘The acquisition of sentence structure and functional categories’, Tom Roeper argues for ‘strict interfaces where semantics, pragmatics and syntax must coincide’ (205), but he also asks how interfaces are to be represented. Roeper concludes that ‘greater … innateness of grammar is entailed by this vision of interfaces … non-linguistic abilities [being] biologically bundled with the UG in a way that requires species-specific innateness’ (226), thus conceptually enlarging our understanding of ‘interface’.

Part 3, ‘Autonomous development vs. crosslinguistic influence in bilingual first language acquisition’, is indebted to Meisel’s pioneering work in child bilingualism. Cristina Maria Moreira Flores and Andréia Schurt Rauber in ‘Perception of German vowels by bilingual Portuguese-German returnees’ (287–305) use a categorical discrimination test, the results of which show that bilingual Portuguese children, aged 5–10 years, who have returned to Portugal from Germany and never used German again, still have the ability to clearly discriminate German vowel contrasts.

Part 4, ‘Language acquisition, language contact and diachronic change’, is the subject of one of Meisel’s research projects. Language change does not happen often, and Meisel believes multilingualism and language contact represent ‘likely scenario[s] for … change’ (9–10). In this context, in ‘Acquisition in the context of language change, the case of Brazilian Portuguese null subjects’ (309–30), Mary Aizawa Kato discusses the ‘selective loss of null subjects’ (309), when Brazilian children do not acquire null forms when learning the language, but only later during schooling.

Meisel has impacted the personal and professional lives of a large number of colleagues and students, and they in turn have produced significant work, as evidenced in this book. Of concern, however, at least to this reviewer, is the ongoing reliance of generativists on Minimalist glosses (e.g. ‘fix the value of a parameter not instantiated in the L1’), that even as a shorthand that expedites discussion and ongoing research simultaneously suggests a club atmosphere that limits its membership by excluding scholars who do not speak the language.

Television dramatic dialogue

Television dramatic dialogue: A sociolinguistic survey. By Kay Richardson. (Oxford studies in sociolinguistics.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Pp. 255. ISBN 9780195374063. $29.95 (Pb).

Reviewed by Thomas Hoffmann, University of Osnabrück

Television is one of the most important mass media sources of our time and, as Kay Richardson points out, many shows make heavy use of dramatic dialogue. In this book, she takes a sociolinguistic approach to investigate the ‘onscreen/on-mike talk delivered by characters as part of dramatic storytelling in a range of fictional and nonfictional TV genres’ (3).

Following an introduction (3–20), in which R outlines the scope of her study and discusses central issues such as what counts as television dramatic dialogue and why this is an interesting subject of study, Ch. 2 (21–41) gives an overview of previous related research. Here R identifies two major strands of research, one focusing on dialogue from the perspective of television drama studies, the other being more linguistic in nature, looking at dialogue as language in use from stylistic and sociolinguistic points of view.

Ch. 3, ‘What is TV dialogue like?’ (42–62), compares the characteristics of television dialogue with other types of (non-)mediated and (non-)representational talk. While R shows that television dramatic dialogue is, of course, closer to feature film dialogue than authentic, ‘realistic’ face-to-face conversation, she also points out significant similarities with the latter (e.g. ‘the goal of mediating social relationships in […] interactive situations’; 62).

The following three chapters focus on different perspectives on television dialogue, starting with Ch. 4, ‘What TV screenwriters know about dialogue’ (63–84). In this chapter, R takes a closer look at the production of television shows and how it constrains the writing process. In addition, she explores what is considered ‘good’ dialogue from the screenwriters’ point of view. In contrast, Ch. 5, ‘What the audience knows about dialogue’ (85–104), investigates the role that dialogue plays for critics, fans, ordinary viewers, and aspiring writers. Ch. 6, ‘Dialogue as social interaction’ (105–26), adopts an interactional sociolinguistic approach and analyzes television dialogue from the perspective of communication ethnography.

The creation of characters through dialogue is explored through the lens of schema theory in Ch. 7, ‘Dialogue, character, and social cognition’ (127–50). In the following chapter, ‘Dialogue and dramatic meaning: Life on Mars’ (151–68), looks at how dialogue contributes to the meaning of a dramatic work, based on a case study of the British series Life on Mars. Ch. 9, ‘House and snark’ (169–87), examines the strategies of impoliteness in the American television show House. Finally, Ch. 10 (187–97) concludes the book with an overview of the topics discussed as well as suggestions for potential future research avenues.

Television dramatic dialogue is a fascinating read that draws on a wide variety of television shows from 24 and CSI: Crime scene investigation to Coronation street and Desperate housewives to Doctor Who and House, to name but a few. This book should be particularly interesting to researchers with a background in the sociology of language, but it should also appeal to any linguist working on language in use.

An introduction to Classical Nahuatl

An introduction to Classical Nahuatl. By Michel Launey. Ed. and Trans. by Christopher Mackay. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp. xx, 453. ISBN 9780521732291. $39.99.

Reviewed by Peter Freeouf, Chiang Mai University

Finally, there is available an introductory textbook in English for learning Classical Nahuatl that is at the same time quite extensive in its coverage of the grammar of the language. This is a translation of the author’s original French edition. There has also been in recent years a Spanish translation.

Nahuatl has been described in numerous grammars over the centuries, beginning shortly after the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the early sixteenth century. Classical Nahuatl refers to the language of texts written down in the Roman alphabet in the years following the conquest. The grammars of this period attempted with varying degrees of success to describe this language in its full complexity. Before the publication of this textbook, there have been a number of good descriptions of Classical Nahuatl available in English, but for various reasons these works have not been adequate for beginning students of the language. These other works, and in particular J. Richard Andrew’s massive grammar of the language (Introduction to Classical Nahuatl, revised edition, 2003), are invaluable for more advanced study and reference.

This text begins with a short preface and notes on how to use the book. The ‘Preliminary lesson’ and the subsequent thirty-five lessons are grouped into two parts. Part 1 (3–156) contains the preliminary lesson, ‘Phonetics and writing’, and Lessons 1–15. These first fifteen lessons present the basic nominal, pronominal, and verbal morphology as well as basic syntax. There are exercises for each lesson. With the exception of the preliminary lesson, the exercises in each lesson, preceded by a list of new vocabulary, consist of sentences to be translated from and into Nahuatl. At the end of Part 1 there are review exercises (151–56).

Part 2 (159–379) consists of Lessons 16–35. This part covers the extensive derivational processes and treats the syntax in a much more detailed fashion than in the first part. There are four appendices (379–428). Appendix 1, ‘Traditional orthography’, summarizes the conventions used in the older documents, as these differ from the normalized orthography used in the textbook. Appendix 2 (by the translator, Christopher Mackay) summarizes the inflectional patterns of the language. Appendix 3 discusses the Aztec calendar, and the final appendix is a key to the exercises. Also included are Nahuatl–English and English–Nahuatl vocabularies and a detailed index. The orthography used in the book attempts to adhere closely to the traditional Spanish-based orthography but at the same time indicate consistently vowel length and glottal stops, something which the older texts and grammar often fail to do.

This is an excellent textbook for learning Classical Nahuatl, either in a classroom setting or by individuals studying on their own. The only linguistics knowledge required is a familiarity with basic grammatical terminology. This text is certain to become and remain the standard pedagogical manual for Classical Nahuatl in English for many years.

A grammar of Vaeakau-Taumako

A grammar of Vaeakau-Taumako. By Åshild Næss and Even Hovdhaugen. Munich: De Gruyter Mouton, 2011. Pp. xix, 519. ISBN 9783110238266. $196 (Hb).

Reviewed by Peter Freeouf, Chiang Mai University

Vaeakau-Taumako (V-T), also commonly cited as Pileni in the literature, is an outlier Polynesian language spoken in the eastern Solomon Islands by somewhat fewer than 1,700 people spread over two small low-lying island chains. Although V-T is the principal everyday language of its speakers and is still being learned by children, it is considered an endangered language due to the small number of speakers and the increasing role of English and Solomon Islands Pijin, the national lingua franca of the Solomon Islands.

V-T is interesting as a Polynesian language for several reasons. Unusual for Polynesian languages, V-T has developed voiced oral stops as well as aspirated nasal stops and an aspirated liquid, contrasting with the more typologically usual non-aspirated nasals and liquid. The labial and dental oral stops display a three-way contrast: unvoiced unaspirated, unvoiced aspirated, and voiced. The velar oral stops have only a two-way contrast: unvoiced versus voiced. V-T has the largest consonant inventory of the Polynesian group, with nineteen consonant phonemes and comparatively numerous word-initial clusters. There are the five basic vowels /i, e, a, o, u/, but there is a restricted contrast for vowel length. The subject-verb-object basic word order of V-T is rare among Polynesian languages.

This grammar is organized into eighteen chapters, covering all aspects of the language, from historical and social setting and stylistic and dialect variation, through phonology, morphology, syntax, and discourse structure. The geographical, social, and historical setting of the language is described in some detail in Ch. 1., and phonology and orthographic representation are discussed in Ch. 2. Ch. 3, ‘Word classes’, is a helpful overview of the open and closed classes, with a discussion of the difficulty distinguishing such categories. Reduplication is the topic of Ch. 4.

Ch. 5, ‘Deictics’, includes personal and possessive pronouns, demonstratives, deictic adverbs, and directionals. The next two chapters deal with nominal morphology and noun phrases. Chs. 8 and 9 discuss verbs and verb phrases. Ch. 10 is devoted to prepositions, and Ch.11 covers modifiers. Ch. 12 treats tense, aspect, and mood. Chs. 13–17 cover the following topics, respectively: simple clauses, complex clauses, serial verbs and related constructions, negations and questions, and coordination and conjunctions. Discourse organization is the focus of Ch. 18. Most chapters begin with a short introduction, which discusses definitional and descriptive issues of the topic of the chapter.

There are two appendices. Appendix 1 (461–99) contains four texts, glossed and translated, with one text each from the three main dialect areas and one from a rather isolated small community. Appendix 2 (500–02) is a list of grammatical morphemes, with the function and chapter reference for each. A wide-ranging bibliography and index conclude the book.

This grammar is written in a comprehensible and easily accessible language employing the descriptive and analytic resources of basic linguistic theory. This work is a valuable contribution to Austronesian and Polynesian linguistics, with much to offer not only to specialists in these areas but also to typologists and others interested in the peoples and cultures of the Pacific.

Teaching linguistics

Teaching linguistics: Reflections on practice. Ed. by Koenraad Kuiper. London: Equinox , 2011. Pp. 235. ISBN 9781845536879. $29.95.

Reviewed by Dustin De Felice, University of South Florida

This book is comprised of eighteen chapters on teaching many of the domains within linguistics. Following an introductory chapter by Koenraad Kuiper (Ch. 1), each author discusses his or her personal approach to any of these topics: teaching, creating didactic activities, and/or crafting syllabi, among other classroom issues.

In Ch. 2, Jen Hay outlines a number of demonstrations for teaching introductory phonetics, and in Ch. 3 Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy discusses how learning phonology can contribute to a greater understanding of how theories are improved. Additionally, Laurie Bauer (Ch. 4) covers teaching morphology, and Sandra Chung (Ch. 5) details the challenges and opportunities in teaching syntax, especially in developing a teaching style that allows the students to discover syntactic argumentation on their own.

Within the fields of semantics, pragmatics, historical linguistics, and sociolinguistics, Barbara H. Partee (Ch. 6) provides a glimpse into her formal semantics teaching career and talks about the various challenges she overcame, while Christopher Potts (Ch. 7) gives a tour of his approach to pragmatics, starting with syllabus development and ending with examples for final course activities. In Ch. 8, Harold Koch gives a memoir on his experience teaching historical linguistics, covering issues like order of topics, use of exercises, varieties of courses, and issues in professional development. In Ch. 9, Miriam Meyerhoff explores her experiences with teaching sociolinguistics to a wide variety of audiences.

In Ch. 10, Paul Warren presents his personal view for teaching psycholinguistics and explores production and comprehension, while in Ch. 11, Diana Van Lancker Sidtis handles the teaching of nonliteral language with a focus on formulaic expressions and language. She presents numerous examples from within her classroom. In Ch. 12, Susan Foster-Cohen handles the teaching of language acquisition through a discussion on finding a balance between linguistic knowledge and other child developments.

For more applied and practical linguistics, David Mendelsohn (Ch. 13) explores the value in studying linguistics for ESL/EFL classroom practitioners and provides specific examples of linguistic knowledge benefitting the classroom teacher. In Ch. 14, Alison Wray offers four games for working through language origins and change. She provides the procedures for each game and includes the necessary components in the appendix. In Ch. 15, Koenraad Kuiper covers some issues, challenges, and experiences with teaching LING101, and Janet Holmes (Ch. 16) discusses postgraduate research, providing suggestions for good postgraduate supervision. In Ch. 17, Wes Collins looks at the field methods course and its importance in linking linguistic knowledge with ethnographic context. Lastly, Kate Burridge (Ch. 18) concludes the book with a discussion on metaphors and their importance to thinking.

This book is an incredible journey through the experiences of accomplished educators who share not only their insights but, in many cases, their actual classroom activities. An added benefit comes at the end of each chapter where the authors provide autobiographical information that further illuminates their perspectives and teaching priorities. This book is a unique text that offers educators the opportunity to reflect on their practices through the experience of seasoned professionals.

Body memory, metaphor and movement

Body memory, metaphor and movement. Ed. by Sabine C. Koch, Thomas Fuchs, Michela Summa, and Cornelia Müller (Advances in consciousness research 84.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012. Pp. vii, 468. ISBN 9789027213501. $149 (Hb).

Reviewed by Daria Dayter, University of Bayreuth

This book on embodiment provides a cognitive linguistic perspective in work by psychologists and clinical practitioners.

The first part subsumes contributions from phenomenologists, opening with an overview of forms of body memory by Thomas Fuchs. In the two following chapters, Michela Summa examines the role of body memory in the process of meaning formation, and Maxine Sheets-Johnstone argues for the primacy of kinaesthetic memory in our everyday existence. Eugene T. Gendlin addresses Fuchs’ earlier article on body memory and proposes an expanded model of time as ‘carrying forward’. The last two chapters in this section take a Husserlian approach to body memory: Elizabeth A. Behnke focuses on traumatic body memory that she labels ‘enduring’, and Mónica E. Alarcón Dávila demonstrates that in dance, the body has a spatial and a temporal constitution.

Opening the second part of the book, which comprises contributions from cognitive science,  Petra Jansen proposes some first steps towards empirical measurements of implicit body memory. Christina Bermeitinger and Markus Kiefer discuss the role of concepts in the embodiment approach to cognition. The chapter by Christina Jung and Peggy Sparenberg reviews cognitive perspectives on embodiment, and Caterina Suitner, Sabine C. Koch, Katharina Bachmeier, and Anne Maass expand the topic by describing three empirical studies that test hypotheses about dynamic embodiment. Sabine C. Koch follows with another experimental study designed to test Fuchs’ taxonomy of body memory. The link between metaphor and body memory is investigated in contributions by Claudia Böger and by Astrid Kolter, Silva H. Ladewig, Michela Summa, Cornelia Müller, Sabrina C. Koch, and Thomas Fuchs. William Sax and Karin Polit employ anthropological methodology to study body memory in cases of spirit possessions in the Western Himalayas, while Ralf P. Meyer approaches the subject from the perspective of modern neuroscience.

The theoretical contributions above receive an applied rendering in the final part of the book. Christine Caldwell makes a case for clinical movement therapy based on the importance of sensorimotor processing for implicit body memory. The application of movement therapy to the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder is the subject of the contribution by Marianne Eberhard-Kaechele. Päivi Pylvänäinen reports observations on a clinical dance/movement therapy group at a psychiatric outpatient clinic. Heidrun Panhofer, Helen Payne, Timothy Parke, and Bonnie Meekums argue for the usefulness of embodied perceptual practices in therapy when painful experiences cannot be expressed through traditional verbal means. Yona Shahar-Levy presents her theory of emotorics that strives to reconstruct subjective meaning embedded in memory fragments. The technique of authentic movement is recommended by Ilka Konopatsch and Helen Payne for patients with medically unexplained symptoms. In the three following chapters, Helle Winther and then Sabine C. Koch and Steve Harvey deal with dance and movement therapy, and Johannes Michalak, Jan M. Burg, and Thomas Heidenreich take up the subject of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Elmar Kruithoff addresses the experiential practices derived from Gendlin’s philosophy of the implicit: focusing and felt sensing.

The editors conclude the book by summarizing the state of the art in body memory research and call for further investigation of the related phenomena.

Acoustic and auditory phonetics

Acoustic and auditory phonetics. 3rd edn. By Keith Johnson. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Pp. 222. ISBN 9781405194662. $44.95.

Reviewed by Alejandrina Cristia, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

The instrumental measurement of speech is now a standard feature of language research. Keith Johnson’s Acoustic and auditory phonetics is an excellent introductory textbook to both theory and practice behind this subfield of linguistics research. The following paragraph summarizes the key technical concepts introduced in each chapter.

The first half of the book is grouped under the heading ‘Fundamentals’. Ch. 1, ‘Basic acoustics and acoustic filters’ (7–24), provides a brief, non-technical introduction to waves and filters. In Ch. 2, ‘The acoustic theory of speech production’ (25–48), the properties of tubes are introduced, which is vital within a source-filter description of speech. Ch. 3, on ‘Digital signal processing’ (49–81) walks the reader from the basic concepts of digital signals to spectrograms. A broad-strokes introduction to some key aspects of ‘Basic audition’ is provided in Ch. 4 (82–99). Finally, Ch. 5 on ‘Speech perception’ (100–28) emphasizes the crucial role of language experience with a few psycholinguistic phenomena, in addition to introducing some wide-spread techniques for measuring perception.

The second half of the book centers on ‘Speech analysis’. Ch. 6, ‘Vowels’ (131–51), highlights the strengths and weaknesses of tube models compared to perturbation descriptions of speech; adaptive dispersion compared to quantal theory; and acoustic compared to auditory representations. Ch. 7, ‘Fricatives’ (152–68), breaches the importance of aerodynamic considerations, revisits tube models and quantal theory, and underlines the importance of considering auditory constraints and linguistic experience when assessing perception. In Ch. 8 (169–85), both source and filter are revisited using ‘Stops and affricates’ as a case study by introducing different phonation types and investigating the variation in vocal tract configuration (and, consequently, in acoustic properties) that occurs at different points in the production of stops and affricates. Finally, the extension to coupled resonators is done in Ch. 9, ‘Nasals and laterals’ (185–205).

This third edition is thoroughly instructional. There are numerous illustrations that clarify the main text, as well as boxes elaborating on tangential aspects which have commanded the attention of the author’s students. Chapters end with a list of relevant references (each followed by a one-sentence summary); a ‘sufficient jargon’ subsection, listing the 10–20 key terms covered in that chapter; and between four and twelve exercises, some of which are solved at the end of the book. There is also a brief glossary, which includes entries for specific sounds.

As for the writing, complex phenomena are explained very clearly, with more technical passages immediately followed by metaphors that help non-specialists grasp the intuition behind a given concept or formula. Furthermore, acoustic and auditory phenomena are immediately made relevant, as apparently arcane facts are shown to relate to well-established psycholinguistic findings and crosslinguistic tendencies. This textbook will be immensely useful not only to students from linguistics, speech and hearing, cognitive sciences backgrounds, but also to researchers who would like to learn about (or brush up on) phonetics.

Poetry translating as expert action

Poetry translating as expert action: Processes, priorities and networks. By Francis R. Jones. (Benjamins translation library 93.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. xvi, 227. ISBN 9789027286819 $135 (Hb).

Reviewed by Dennis Ryan, University Writing and Language Consultants

In this book, Francis R. Jones begins by asking the commonly asked question, ‘What does a poetry translator need to know to translate a poem written in one language into another?’ The answer is ‘special expertise’ (1), referring to the book’s title and thesis. J expands upon this phrase throughout seven chapters that look at poetry translation as the work of project teams and active networking, of a complex matrix of local-to-global community involvement and political action that results in intercultural interfaces correlated to specific translation settings and situations, to writing and poetry-translation skills, and to the cultural sensitivity of the translator.

During the course of the study, J interviews a number of anonymous translators and comments incisively upon his own translation practice from Serbo-Croatian/Bosnian into English, including his fully bilingual, published translation of ‘the masterwork of Bosnian twentieth-century poetry’, (19) the politically iconic Kameni spavac ‘Stone Sleeper’. Composed by Bosnian poet Mak Dizdar, the work is a three-way dialogue that echoes the presence of Bosnian stecci—carved medieval tombstones that contain godlike figures and ‘enigmatic symbols’ (18)—when a dead religious heretic from beneath a stecak ‘taunts…heretic-hunters [of the state church] that they cannot destroy spiritual strength by physical violence’ (21).

Based on his poetry translation experiences, and those of other translators, J argues quite convincingly that neither poetry translation nor poetry as a genre should be marginalized. Rather, they should be extensively researched by translation scholars. He states that ‘poetry may have a special contribution to make, which more than compensates for its low translated word-count per annum compared to European Union legislation’ (9). By way of fellow translator Maria Tymoczko, J reasons that ‘literary translation [particularly poetry translation] gives better evidence than non-literary translation about interfaces between cultures because it happens less “sporadically” and “locally”, and shows “greater cultural complexity and … involvement” … richer material for analysing intercultural processes’ (9). Because of this rich complexity, literary translation can be foundational in training translators in many areas, from literature to advertising to journalism. His point is well taken.

Perhaps most importantly, translation enables ‘a writer of one language to communicate with readers of another’ (3) so that they may better understand and learn from one another both on the cultural and sub-cultural levels. J cites the web journal Spirit of Bosnia ‘as belonging to an imagined sub-community defined by its belief in Bosnia’s cultural unity’ (194). Finally, as J emphasizes, poetry translators bring their personal histories to the act of translating, yet they also merge their identities biculturally, ‘see themselves as using their poetry-translating skills to perform the role of “ambassador” or of a “bridge” between their two areas of allegiance—the source and receptor culture/country’ (196). This is only as it should be, as poetry—including its translation—is a powerful force for change.

 This book is an expert, seasoned analysis of the art of poetry translation, thoroughly researched, and is highly recommended.