Monthly Archives: December 2012

Cornelius Rahmn’s Kalmuck dictionary

Cornelius Rahmn’s Kalmuck dictionary. Trans. and ed. by Jan-Olof Svantesson. (Turcologica 93.) Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz , 2012. Pp. 199. ISBN 9783447066907. $59.

Reviewed by Mikael Thompson, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Cornelius Rahmn (1785–1853) was a Swedish chaplain who between 1819 and 1823 worked for the London Missionary Society among the Kalmyks, the westernmost Mongolian people, who settled along the southern reaches of the Volga River beginning in 1630. He left three manuscripts about Kalmyk, which are preserved in the Uppsala University Library: this Kalmyk-Swedish dictionary, a Swedish-Kalmyk wordlist, and a Kalmyk grammar in Swedish (published in 2009 by Svantesson). This dictionary predates all published Kalmyk dictionaries and provides a largely independent source for the language, though there is some evidence suggesting that it was available to later missionaries in the region (10–11).

 In the manuscript, Kalmyk words are written in Oirat clear script, a script dating from 1648 that eliminated the ambiguities of classical Mongolian script through several new letter signs, and are translated into Swedish (and in some cases into German, with occasional Latin, Tibetan, Hebrew, Russian, English, and Greek words, 13); pronunciation is indicated specially for a few words (14). For this publication, Kalmyk words are transcribed and R’s Swedish translation is supplemented with the English. In some words, R’s handwriting is unclear (particularly the vowels o and u), and in a number of words distinctions that are made in Oirat clear script but not in classical Mongolian script are suppressed when ambiguity would not result (e.g. the frontness of rounded vowels in non-initial syllables), which might indicate interference from standard written Mongolian, but in many cases suggests rather that R was unaware of the principles of Kalmyk vowel harmony (4–7).

 The manuscript contains over 7,000 words, with an indication of word class and register. Many of the manuscript entries are derived forms of one stem, and the editor has mostly combined them with the main entry. Words and examples given in the grammar have also been included (13). R does not indicate many grammatical categories that are common currency of Mongolists, such as the causative voice or the reciprocal, cooperative (or adversative), and pluractional forms of verbs, though his translations show that he was aware of them (17). The fact that many causative forms are given suggests that R elicited words from native speakers (such forms are sparse in texts), and certain of his spelling variations point to dialectal variation as well. Variation in vowels in non-initial syllables suggests that reduction of post-tonic vowels had started (7–8); however, the spelling of such words as ali ‘any’ and morin ‘horse’ in which formerly back vowels have fronted suggests that this process had not advanced enough to interfere with the historical spellings.

 This book is a welcome addition to Mongolian dialectology and historical linguistics. It is highly recommended to scholars in these fields. It is not likely to be of interest to non-specialist readers, however.

A learner’s dictionary of Kazakh idioms

A learner’s dictionary of Kazakh idioms. By Akmaral Mukan. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2012. Pp. 352. ISBN 9781589018815. $69.95.

Reviewed by Mikael Thompson, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Kazakh is a Turkic language of Central Asia spoken in Kazakhstan, western Mongolia, and the Xinjiang province of China. As with many other Central Asian languages, there are few books in English for students of the language, who historically have had to rely on Russian, Chinese, or Mongolian dictionaries and textbooks beyond the introductory level. Recently, Georgetown University Press has begun to remedy this lack through a series of textbooks for Central Asian languages. The first of their books for students of Kazakh, A learner’s dictionary of Kazakh idioms, is intended for intermediate and advanced students. It includes over 2,000 idioms organized by categories: body parts, clothing, colors, food, people, life and death, the mind, nature, numbers, words, the soul, the yurt, and miscellaneous. The idioms are alphabetized within subcategories of each category (e.g. ‘Leg and foot’ under body parts).

 The head of each entry has the idiom in dictionary form and a literal translation in brackets, followed by the meaning of the idiom and references to related idioms and variant forms included in the book. Grammatical information like case and postpositional government follows, as well as an explanation of the differences in usage or sense between the given idiom and related ones. Most entries contain two or more example sentences. Five indexes are included: all Kazakh idioms regardless of category, all English idioms used that have Kazakh equivalents, Kazakh key words, English keywords, and Kazakh expressions (e.g. sentence-length expressions of greeting, condolences).

 Akmaral Mukan began the work resulting in this book in 2003, in connection with Kazakh instructional DVDs published by the University of Arizona, and the idioms were collected from Kazakh newspapers and Internet sites with an emphasis on vocabulary introduced in beginning and intermediate Kazakh classes. The idioms chosen are useful and often entertaining. In addition, the quality of the editing and production is very good.

 This book is highly recommended for students of Kazakh, and should be of serious interest to linguists and other scholars of Central Asian languages and cultures. Good, up-to-date Kazakh learning materials are scarce. M contributes an excellent addition to them.

English in Asian popular culture

English in Asian popular culture. Ed. by Jamie Shinhee Lee and Andrew Moody. (Asian Englishes today.) Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2012. Pp. 288. ISBN 9789888083572. $25.

Reviewed by Sofia Rüdiger, University of Bayreuth

This book focuses on English in Asian popular culture. As the editors state in the introductory chapter, the purpose of the book is to analyze the roles and features of English in various forms of Asian popular culture. The included contributions are grouped under three headings: listening to popular culture (i.e. music), watching popular culture (i.e. television series, movies, and the Internet) and selling popular culture (i.e. advertising).

 Phil Benson and Alice Chik open the first part of the book with a contribution on reasons for the use of English in Hong Kong popular music, particularly in the alternative music scene. Brian Hok-Shing Chan (Ch. 3) examines the role of English Cantonese code-switching in Cantopop in relation to Hong Kong Chinese identity. The following chapter by Angel Lin focuses on the function of English in the construction of identity and hybridity in the Hong Kong hip hop music scene.

 Roger M. Thompson (Ch. 5) opens the section, ‘Watching popular culture’, with a description of the use of English in Philippine television. Considering television series, movies, and commercials, he finds a collision of cultural values attached to English and Tagalog. In the following chapter, Andrew Moody and Yuko Matsumoto describe ‘Lu-go’, a ‘pop pidgin’ developed by the Japanese comedian Lou Oshiba, in which Japanese functions as the grammaticalizing language and English as the lexifier. Jamie Shinhee Lee (Ch. 7) analyzes how movies can represent sociolinguistic reality: the Korean movie Please teach me English depicts the struggle that many Koreans face when learning English. Liwei Gao (Ch. 8) investigates the use of English online by mainland Chinese netizens for the construction of a modern identity.

The last part of the book centers on the use of English in advertising. Beng Soon Lim and Lu-Ann Ong (Ch. 9) focus on print advertisements for beauty products in Singapore and on how an image of beauty is created through the exploitation of conversational maxims. Ch. 10 by Jia-Ling Hsu is an investigation of the underlying factors involved in the development of Chinese-English code-mixed advertising discourse in Taiwan. Tej K. Bhatia (Ch. 11) gives an account of the main trends in Indian advertising and shows that English–Hindi mixing is a salient feature of advertising in India. The final chapter, by Joseph Sung-Yul Park, analyzes viewers’ responses towards an instance of English mixing in a Korean television commercial.

The articles comprising this collection provide an overview of the sociolinguistic realities of English in Asian popular culture. The editors included studies from a range of Asian countries: Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. The focus on different media forms (e.g. music, television, movies, and advertising in print and on TV) provides the reader with a diversified account of the use and spread of English in popular culture in Asian contexts.

Standard languages and multilingualism in European history

Standard languages and multilingualism in European history. Ed. by Mattias Hüning, Ulrike Vogl, and Olivier Moliner. (Multilingualism and diversity management 1.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012. Pp. ix, 339. ISBN 9789027200556. $149 (Hb).

Reviewed by Katherine McDonald, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge

This book explores the historical development of European standard language ideology and its impact on attitudes about multilingualism and multiculturalism in modern Europe. The book’s authors argue that there is a tension in Europe between the prestigious forms of multilingualism actively promoted in the European Union and the less prestigious forms of multilingualisms found across Europe. These include bilingualism in undervalued regional languages, in new national languages whose nations are only a few decades old, and in non-European languages, particularly where recent immigrants to Europe are not fluent in any European language. According to the authors, the development of standard languages in Europe, both in the past and in the present, is a key factor contributing to this dual view of multilingualism.

The book is divided into two main parts. Following an introduction by Ulrike Vogl, the authors of the first part explore the theoretical considerations and historical background that inform the book, including myths about language usage in modern culture (Winifred V. Davies), multilingualism in political theory (Yael Peled), and the relationship between language and ethnicity in Europe up to the present day (Harald Haarmann). The second part consists of a number of case studies presenting the development of standard language ideologies in different countries, areas, and speech communities. The authors deal with Iceland (Alexander Haselow), Greece (Peter Mackridge), Finland (Mirja Saari), France (Georges Lüdi), Spain (Kormi Anipa), Dutch-speaking Belgium (Johan De Caluwé), the languages of the Caucasus (Harald Haarmann), and Macedonia and Moldova (Matthew H. Ciscel). Quotations and examples from languages other than English are generally translated, although Lüdi’s chapter requires knowledge of French. The strongest emphasis is on developments from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries onward, but case studies where relevant standardization phenomena appear earlier include more information on prior periods, particularly in the chapters on Iceland, Greece, and Spain.

There are occasional inaccuracies. For example, Vogl dates the earliest written documents in Greek to the fourth century B.C. (19), but this seems to be a misunderstanding of Mackridge’s overview of the development of the standardized forms of Greek. In addition, unhelpful terminology is occasionally used. For example, the term ‘monolingual multilingualism’, meaning fluency in more than one high-status European language, is far from transparent. Haarmann also uses phrases such as ‘people of Indo-European stock’ when ‘speakers of Indo-European languages’ might be more appropriate to the context (289–90, 304).

However, these are minor issues in a book that will be of considerable interest to scholars in a number of fields: the sociolinguistics of language contact, historical sociolinguistics, the history of ethnicity in Europe, and modern language policy. This book argues persuasively that the perceived problems of multilingualism/multiculturalism in modern Europe have been created by the ideologies of recent centuries as much as by actual social or demographic change, and it makes a strong case for further study of standard language ideologies from a historical perspective. Overall, it is positive to see multilingualism presented as a phenomenon with a long and varied history across Europe.

Mapping unity and diversity world-wide

Mapping unity and diversity world-wide: Corpus-based studies of New Englishes. Ed. by Marianne Hundt and Ulrike Gut. (Varieties of English around the world G43.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012. Pp. xiv, 294. ISBN 9789027249036. $143 (Hb).

Reviewed by Abhishek Kumar Kashyap, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

This book presents empirical studies on a wide range of English varieties, covering several linguistic phenomena, including modals, quasi-modals, tense, aspect, verb complementation, particle verbs, and relative clause constructions. The book contains an introduction by the editors and eleven empirical studies. The studies are primarily based on the sub-corpora of the International Corpus of English.

The first five chapters concentrate on tense and aspect. In Ch. 1, Gerold Schneider and Marianne Hundt study tense, mood, and aspect in five Englishes from inner and outer circles, which include Indian English, British English (BrE), New Zealand English, Fiji English, and Ghana English. In Ch. 2, Peter Collins and Xinyue Yao study four quasi-modals (also called semi-modals), namely have to, have got to, be going to, and want to, in a range of English varieties. They observe a gradual decline in the use of modals and a rise in the use of quasi-modals in inner-circle varieties, with AmE leading the change.

Johan van der Auwera, Dirk Noël, and Astrid De Wit, in Ch. 3, explore the use of need as a modal auxiliary and as a lexical verb in four Asian Englishes—Hong Kong English, Singapore English, Philippine English, and Indian English—and quantify their use in comparison with BrE and AmE. In Ch. 4, Dagmar Deuber, Carolin Biewer, Stephanie Hackert, and Michaela Hilbert examine, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the use of the modals will and would in six New Englishes (i.e. Fiji, Indian, Singapore, Trinidadian, Jamaican, and Bahamian) and compare it with usage in BrE. In Ch. 5, Michaela Hilbert and Manfred G. Kurg present a quantitative and qualitative study of the use of the progressive in press reports and editorials in Maltese English.

Three chapters focus on verbs. In Ch. 6, Marco Schilk, Tobias Bernaisch, and Joybrato Mukherjee study the distribution and usage of the complementational patterns of three verbs (i.e. convey, submit, and supply), which they categorize as ‘transfer-caused-motion’ constructions in Indian, British, and Sri Lankan English. The following two chapters include studies of particle verbs, a class of verbs also known by other terms (e.g. phrasal verbs), which is beginning to attract the attention of World Englishes researchers. Lena Zipp and Tobias Bernaisch, in Ch. 7, study the use of particle verbs with up (e.g. take up) in nine varieties of English, and in Ch. 8 Gerald Nelson and Ren Hongtao study the use of particle verbs in African Englishes.

Two chapters attend to an area of grammar that has been seldom examined in World Englishes: relative clause constructions. In Ch. 9, Ulrike Gut and Lilian Coronel present a study on relative clause constructions in Nigerian, Jamaican, Philippine, and Singapore English, and Christian Mair and Claudia Winkle investigate the usage of cleft sentences in a range of first- and second-language English varieties in Ch. 10. The final chapter, by Nicole Höhn, investigates another lesser-studied linguistic phenomenon of World Englishes: quotatives. Specifically, she attends to the use of be like, go, and say in Jamaican and Irish English.

In sum, this book serves as a significant addition to the existing literature in the field of World Englishes.

Rhetorical style

Rhetorical style: The uses of language in persuasion. By Jeanne Fahnestock. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. 464. ISBN 9780199764112. $39.95.

Reviewed by David Pruett, Austin Community College

Jeanne Fahnestock’s book is a guide to methods of language analysis that focus on rhetorical style. The classical rhetorical canons—invention, judgment, arrangement, memory, and delivery—necessarily rely on this later-appearing canon. As F notes, ‘style is arguably the most implicated in the others, since linguistic choice is the point of realization’ (7). These choices help create messages that change an audience’s attitudes, beliefs, and actions.

In the introduction (1–19), F analyzes the rhetorical style of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘Day of infamy’ speech to acquaint readers with her methods. She lays out the book’s plan, reminding readers of rhetoric’s seminal theorists, namely Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian, whose writings she cites throughout her book.

Part 1, ‘Word choice’ (21–144), consists of six chapters that focus on individual words. Ch. 1 gives an overview of the history of the English lexicon, emphasizing the range of synonyms drawn from Old English, French, Latin, and Greek. Ch. 2 discusses ways that linguistic variation alters items in the lexicon semantically and morphologically. Ch. 3 covers ways of categorizing words, traditionally by parts of speech and alternatively by fields and levels, and Ch. 4 describes a rhetorical understanding of registers and illuminates the persuasive opportunities in shifting registers. Ch. 5 reviews traditional notions of the trope, and Ch. 6 introduces lesser-known ‘word schemes’, such as agnominatio and ploce.

The six chapters of Part 2, ‘Sentences’ (145–273), treat the persuasive effects of sentence-level grammar. Ch. 7 focuses on options for subject and verb choices, and Ch. 8 surveys ways that modifiers and clause types affect this predication. Ch. 9 shows how the arrangement of clauses affects emphasis and comprehension, while Ch. 10 examines parallelism, repetition, and antithesis as sentence-level means of emphasis. Ch. 11 looks at the rhetoric of lists, and Ch. 12 provides an overview of punctuation marks as shapers of oral performance and grammatical structure.

Part 3, ‘Interactive dimension’ (275–341), is composed of three chapters that focus on identity construction for rhetors and audiences. Ch. 13 discusses methods of constructing identification by addressing real or fictional audiences. Ch. 14 describes the rhetorical value of direct and indirect speech, invented speakers, heteroglossia, and register shifting, and Ch. 15 looks at deictic language in response to exigence.

The three chapters contained in Part 4, ‘Passage construction’ (343–417), discuss the construction of longer units of text, beginning in Ch. 16 with the concept of coherence between sentences within a passage. In Ch. 17, passage-building argument units such as enthymeme, epicheireme, and extended comparison are discussed, and F concludes the book with a discussion in Ch. 18 of ‘arguably the single most important goal in rhetorical stylistics, the goal of amplification’ (16).

F’s method stresses parole and performance, not langue and competence, as she draws samples from political speeches, journalism, historiography, utility company pamphlets, literary works, and science. For linguists with a limited background in rhetoric, F’s book offers an informative survey of the methods of rhetorical analysis.

Studien zu den koranischen Hapaxlegomena unikaler Wurzeln

Studien zu den koranischen Hapaxlegomena unikaler Wurzeln. By Orhan Elmaz. (Jenaer Beiträge zum Vorderen Orient 8.) Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2011. Pp. 372. ISBN 9783447066228. $98.

Reviewed by Adam C. McCollum, Hill Museum & Manuscript Library

In this book, the author, assistant professor of Islamic studies at the University of Vienna, turns his attention to hapax legomena (i.e. words occurring only once) in the Qurʾān, and more specifically such words whose roots are not otherwise known in Arabic. In Arabic, as in other Semitic languages, analyses of word formation and the lexicon are usually tied closely to an abstract root. Following an introduction, the work consists of two main parts: descriptive (Ch. 2, 11–122) and semantico-historic (‘Bedeutungsgeschichtlicher Teil’, Ch. 4, 131–230). Ch. 3 is an excursus (123–30) that puts the Qurʾān-focused lexicographical research within the context of broader Arabic lexicography.

Ch. 2 provides a theoretical framework on which the analyses in Ch. 4 hang. That analytical chapter contains a string of investigations on each of the fourteen hapax legomena that comprise the book’s focus. Each investigation consists of the cited passage (in Arabic) with remarks on the history of its interpretation in Western scholarship (including translation), on the word as it has been treated in Arabic-language lexicons, and on the word in exegetical literature on the Qurʾān (tafsīr), and a proposed translation (into German) is presented.

While the author used much primary and secondary literature across several disciplines, there are some bibliographical lacunae, including two very important works: Joseph Greenberg’s ‘Patterning of root morphemes in Semitic’ (1950) and Stephen Kaufman’s Akkadian influences on Aramaic (1974); the latter, for example, might have been well used at page 147 and the former in the discussion of root structure in subsection 2.7 and elsewhere.

There is a great mass of data on these (and other) lexemes presented throughout the book, not least in a number of charts in the appendices, and this collected information is thankfully now at the disposal of researchers working on similar topics. More strictly textually-oriented scholars will perhaps find the numerous charts, graphs, and even mathematical formulas less appealing than other parts of the book, which can nevertheless still be read profitably without a focus on the numerical data.

The Arabic parts, whether individual words or longer passages, are very well typeset, including the vocalized Qurʾānic excerpts. In addition to Arabic, a number of other scripts also appear, and they, too, have been arranged well. There are occasional errors in accents and spacing (e.g. page 7, note 3; page 8, five lines from the bottom; page 9, note 41, preceding the italics). Unfortunately, there is no quick comprehensive list of abbreviations, a fault all the more detrimental because of the author’s fondness for them.

Linguists who do not focus on Arabic or other Semitic languages—there is much here of relevance to root structure—will find the introduction and, perhaps less so, some of the discussion in Ch. 2 relevant to their research, but it is Arabists who will get the most out of the book, whether they are concerned with Arabic as a language or with the Qurʾān and its interpretation (in Arabic and in German and, occasionally, in English).

Viewpoint in language

Viewpoint in language: A multimodal perspective. Ed. by Barbara Dancygier and Eve Sweetser. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. 254. ISBN 9781107017832. $99 (Hb).

Reviewed by Adam Głaz, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, Poland

The back cover of this beautifully designed and produced book says that human cognition is inherently ‘viewpointed’. Indeed, the diversity of the contributions found in the book very aptly testify to that assertion. The reader is offered analyses of spoken language, sign language, and gesture that together make up a variegated picture of how viewpoints are assumed, maintained, and shifted, or how they otherwise operate. Yet nowhere do we find claims that the picture is anywhere near completion (it cannot be); on the contrary, the editors humbly hope that others will ‘carry the field forward to new syntheses, which we cannot yet see from our current perspective’ (xi).

The book consists of an introduction, nine chapters in four parts, and a conclusion. In the introduction, Eve Sweetser provides an overview of the major areas covered in this interdisciplinary book: viewpoint in language, its links with subjectivity and deixis, the workings of mental spaces that underlie viewpoint, and viewpoint in various modalities (e.g. spoken/written language vs. sign language vs. gesture). It is, in fact, much more than an introduction to the book: it presents a panorama of relevant issues and surveys major directions of research.

Part 1, ‘Intersubjectivity and subjectification’, contains three contributions. Vera Tobin and Michael Israel (Ch. 1) discuss irony in terms of viewpoint. Lilian Ferrari and Eve Sweetser (Ch. 2) apply the mental spaces model to an analysis of subjectivity, and Barbara Dancygier (Ch. 3) links negation, stance verbs, and intersubjectivity in a coherent account. Part 2 deals with gesture and the processing of visual information. Fey Parrill (Ch. 4) looks at gestural viewpoint in discourse in the context of conceptual blending, and Shweta Narayan (Ch. 5) reports on an experiment investigating the interface between physical and cognitive viewpoints.

Part 3 is devoted to multiple viewpoints in American Sign Language (ASL). In Ch. 6, Barbara Shaffer proposes an account of viewpoint in reported speech as an evidentiality strategy, and in Ch. 7 Terry Janzen presents mechanisms of assuming static and rotated viewpoints in ASL.

Finally, Part 4 returns to spoken and written language in two studies of constructions in discourse. Kiki Nikiforidou (Ch. 8) analyzes the past + now construction as a viewpoint blend, and Lieven Vandelanotte (Ch. 9) looks at examples of one speaker’s viewpoint being submerged in another’s.

The book ends with a conclusion from Barbara Dancygier, which covers multiple viewpoints and proposes directions of future research. An index helps navigate through the content of the book. It is to be regretted only that instead of footnotes the reader is offered endnotes in a separate section. This rather awkward solution, however, is the publisher’s requirement and does not affect the quality of this very exciting collection of papers. Indeed, if the book leaves the reader displeased with anything, it is due to whetting the appetite with questions that are not fully satisfied  with answers. This, however, is inevitable and, in fact, is the book’s asset; easy solutions to complex and multifarious viewpoint issues would only be dubious and superficial.

The language of stories

The language of stories: A cognitive approach. By Barbara Dancygier. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. 240. ISBN 9781107005822 $103 (Hb).

Reviewed by William O. Hendricks, Portland, OR

Barbara Dancygier characterizes her book as being concerned with the construction of narrative meaning. She draws primarily upon mental space theory and conceptual integration (‘blending’), as developed by Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner. The ‘stories’ she deals with are, with few exceptions, literary novels.

In Ch. 1 (4–30), D outlines her approach and discusses it in relation to current approaches to narrative discourse. In Ch. 2 (31–57), D introduces the notion of narrative space, its topology, such as space and time, and its participants. An emergent story is said to result from the blending of all the text’s narrative spaces. Ch. 3 (58–86) discusses narrative viewpoint and the various types of narrator. The narrator, a textually constructed concept, is located in a story-viewpoint space, which is projected over all of the main narrative spaces of the text and structures the overall narrative viewpoint. These individual spaces can have their own viewpoint configuration, which is the subject of Ch. 4 (87–116).

Ch. 5 (117–38) deals with connections across different narrative spaces by means of referential expressions, specifically proper names and ‘role-descriptors’. For example, in a brief discussion of Philip Roth’s American pastoral, D makes use of such descriptors as ‘the father of the Rimrock Bomber’. Ch. 6 (139–70) considers the question of how a play tells a story. Drama as a genre is characterized as a combination of the verbal and the material. The text of a play is structured primarily as dialogue but includes such special discourse varieties as the soliloquy; the material includes such elements as the physical stage space and props. Ch. 7 (171–94) deals with speech and thought in the narrative. D is not concerned with characterizing the traditional categories of direct discourse, indirect discourse, and free indirect discourse. She is, rather, more interested in the use of speech-like constructions to represent characters’ minds. In a brief final chapter (195–204), D sums up the assumptions that have guided her work and reviews her conclusions.

The focus of the book is narrow in that D is primarily concerned with narrative viewpoint and does not attend to what many would consider the central feature of narrative—the sequence of events that constitutes the plot. D suggests that plot is important in oral narratives because of human memory limitations but that this is not a factor in written narratives. Hence, there is no concern with the syntax of event representation. In fact, there is almost no treatment of syntax in this book. D focuses on lower-level linguistic choices such as first-person vs. third-person pronouns, past vs. present tense, and lexical terms serving as ‘narrative anchors’. In this respect the book’s title is somewhat misleading.

D concedes that blending has been mostly used to analyze compound noun expressions, constructions such as counterfactuals, and discourse fragments, but she believes to have demonstrated that the framework can be applied to analyses of more complex texts. This book, however, discusses only short extracts from dozens of works, with no detailed analysis of any one narrative.

From barbarism to universality

From barbarism to universality: Language and identity in Early Modern France. By Christopher Coski. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2011. Pp. 216. ISBN 9781611170368. $49.95 (Hb).

Reviewed by Heather Pardee, Northeastern Illinois University

Christopher Coski chronicles the rise of the French language between 1549 and 1784 by examining the works of several notable authors and placing them in conversation. C’s own voice is confined to summarizing each text and identifying sections relevant to individual and national identity, the reputation of the French language, and the linguistic connection between reality and thought.

Ch. 1 examines Joachim du Bellay’s Deffence et illustration de la langue françoyse (1549). Since French remained in the shadow of the ancient languages, du Bellay argued against the view that Latin was better suited for literary work. Du Bellay recognized the disadvantages of the French language but remained optimistic, calling on poets to stop writing in Latin and to perfect their own language. Michel de Montaigne’s Essais (1580), discussed in Ch. 2, employed French vernacular writing for a new genre: the creative, nonfiction essay. Montaigne justified writing his Essais in French rather than Latin because writing in his native language was consistent with his individual identity. C devotes Ch. 3 to Discours de la method by René Descartes (1637), which demonstrates that French is adequate and even preferable for intellectual writing. C calls it an act of intellectual rebellion to write this philosophical work in French. Descartes, diverging from the fluid, changeable nature of Montaigne’s self-expression, describes his method as a process that privileges artificial and systematic reason.

In Ch. 4, Claude Favre de Vaugelas, one of the original members of the Académie Française and author of Remarques sur la langue françoise, defended the purity of the French language through the prescriptive criterion of ‘good usage’. Usage can be judged on aesthetic quality by the authority of the social elite. His work acknowledged that French had evolved into a state of perfection, hence the necessity to codify the language to avoid corruption. Ch. 5 resumes the topic of language and thought with Essai sur l’origine des connaissances humaines by Étienne Bonnot, Abbé de Condillac (1746). Condillac asserted that language is inseparable from rational thought. Perception and sensation can exist without language, but as perception builds towards reason, so instinct grows towards sophisticated human language. This process is what Condillac calls the liason des idées, wherein individual sensations are connected to signs that create the symbolic system of language. In Ch. 6, Antoine Rivarol’s De l’Universitalité de la langue française (1784) claims with overwhelming nationalism that the French language has reached maturity and is now on par with the classical languages. While Rivarol concedes that French is too logical for music and poetry, as the language of reason, it is ideal for philosophy.

An appendix offers a concise overview of the French language from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century and provides historical context for the works discussed in the previous chapters. C’s text is a helpful tool for those wishing to familiarize themselves with this period of French literature, since it is, in essence, a biography of the emerging French language.