Monthly Archives: January 2013

The phonology of Japanese. By Laurence Labrune

The phonology of Japanese. By Laurence Labrune. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. 320. ISBN 9780199545834. $135 (Hb).

Reviewed by Mark J. Elson, University of Virginia

This book provides a clear and thorough discussion of the segmental and supra-segmental phenomena of Standard Japanese. It comprises seven chapters followed by references and an index. The reader is informed that its purpose is twofold: to describe, and react critically to, existing scholarship in Japanese phonology, taking into account both traditional and Western sources, and to offer new analyses (1). Perhaps most significantly, the book is intended not only for specialists, but also for students, non-specialist linguists, and non-linguist Japanologists.

The author describes her framework as generative ‘in the broad sense’, (3) distinguishing an underlying representation from a surface in the context of a non-derivational approach, frequently that of optimality theory. The discussion begins with a description of the stratification of the lexicon and other background (1–24), followed by four chapters treating segmental phenomena: ‘Vowels’ (25–58), ‘Consonants’ (59–101), ‘The phonology of consonant voicing’ (102–31), and ‘Special segments’ (132–41). In addition to a description of vowel phonemes and their peculiarities, vocalic topics include the processes of vowel insertion, deletion, devoicing, lengthening, shortening, and diphthongs. The chapter on consonants is a phoneme-by-phoneme discussion, with special attention to the velar nasal and to palatalization, while the chapter on consonant voicing considers the occurrence of voiced obstruents in conjunction with the special segments /Q/ (= gemination) and /N/ (= prenasalization).

For many, the greatest interest of this informative book will lie in the final two chapters, which provide the bulk of the author’s original contribution. They treat prosodic units (142–77) and accent (178–266) in both simple and compound words. The discussion of the syllable based on units canonically CVC versus mora based on units canonically CV, and disagreements relating to their relevance in Japanese, is comprehensive and enlightening. The discussion concludes with a section on dialectal and sociological variation, and another on the whether Japanese is properly viewed as a language with tone or accent. With regard to syllable versus mora, the author opts for mora with no relevance for syllable (i.e. rejecting the notion that Japanese is a syllabic mora-counting language). She replaces the standard ternary syllabic model comprising an onset, nucleus, and coda with a binary moraic one comprising an onset and nucleus, arguing that the elements associated with the coda position in the syllabic model are assigned to the immediately following binary moraic unit, which is, as a result, a deficient mora (i.e. one in which either C or V is empty). She establishes a hierarchy of moraic structures according to their ability to receive the accent (169–70) and goes on to describe accentuation within the framework of optimality theory, including Western borrowings.

Useful historical information is provided throughout. The author’s survey of, and critical reaction to, the existing literature is invaluable, and her interweaving of traditional analyses with those reflective of Western models is skillful. In this regard, I would note only her failure to mention Bernard Bloch’s seminal work (‘Studies in colloquial Japanese IV phonemics’, 1950) on the phonology of Japanese, which is notable for its detailed information and exemplification relating to the distribution of segmental units.


An introduction to Old English

An introduction to Old English. 2nd edn. By Richard Hogg. Revised by Rhona Alcorn. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012. Pp. 176. ISBN 9780748642397. $104 (Hb).

Reviewed by Jean-François Mondon, Minot State University

Richard Hogg works through the various aspects of Old English in a very readable ten-chapter book. While not having the depth of an introductory book with respect to countless grammar or reading exercises, this book does offer a unique approach to getting one’s feet wet in this fascinating language. Since it explains a variety of linguistic concepts so lucidly, absolute beginners could certainly work their way through this book, acquiring basic linguistics at the same time as Old English.

Ch. 1, ‘Origins and sources’ (1–13), places Old English in its genetic position in the Indo-European family, discusses its extant texts, and closes with a tour of its phonetics and orthography. Ch 2, ‘The basic elements’ (14–27), introduces basic concepts dealing with nominal inflection and introduces three major declensions as well as pronominal and demonstrative forms. H concludes the chapter with a brief discussion of a few sample sentences and a handful of exercises, including an excerpt from Maccabees. Ch. 3, ‘More nouns and adjectives’ (28–40), continues exploring the nominal system, focusing on minor declensional patterns, and extends the discussion to adjectives, explaining strong and weak forms. The chapter ends with a passage from Aelfric’s Life of St. Mary of Egypt.

Chs. 4 (‘Verb forms’, 41–55) and 5 (‘Strong verbs’, 56–69) fluidly work through the entire verbal system. In its discussion of weak verbs, Ch. 4 naturally introduces i-umlaut and its effects both on verbs and adjectival gradation. It ends with an excerpt from the story of Caedmon. Ch. 5 masterfully works through the seven classes of strong verbs as well as preterite-present verbs. A brief necessary discussion of Verner’s Law is interspersed. A hiatus is taken from reading passages, with final exercises dealing with verbal morphology and the differences between Old and Modern English.

Ch. 6, ‘Noun phrases and verb phrases’ (70–87), delves into various particulars of Old English. With respect to nouns, it touches on the use of various cases, including the genitive and rare instrumental. With respect to verbs, it discusses the aspectual and modal system of the language. The chapter ends with an excerpt from Wulfstan’s Sermo Lupi ad Anglos. Ch. 7, ‘Clauses’ (88–104), highlights important topics such as the position of the verb in main and subordinate clauses, negative concord, and the different strategies for linking clauses together. The reading excerpt comes from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.

Ch. 8, ‘Vocabulary’ (104–16), explores the various morphological processes observable in Old English, including affixation and compounding. It also introduces the notion of register in relation to Latin borrowings. The reading excerpt again comes from Wulfstan. Ch. 9, ‘Variety’ (117–29), introduces the unique metrical system of the language along with its dialectal diversification. Caedmon’s hymn rounds out the chapter. Finally, Ch. 10, ‘The future’ (130–39), discusses morphological and lexical developments that send Old English on its way to Middle and Modern English. The chapter ends with six suggestions for essay questions. This short book also contains an Old English glossary, a glossary of linguistic terms, a recommended reading section, references, and an index.


An approach to translation criticism

An approach to translation criticism: Emma and Madame Bovary in translation. By LanceHewson. (Benjamins translation library 95.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. ix, 282.ISBN 9789027224439. $143 (Hb).

Reviewed by Taras Shmiher, Ivan Franko National University

The aim of this book is to scrutinize ways in which a literary text may be explored in translation in order to understand the relation between an author’s original and the resulting translated text by investigating the interpretative potential of the translational choices that have been made.

In the introduction (1–29), the author presents the phenomenon of translation quality assessment as a category of translation research and defines three basic terms: analysis, evaluation, and criticism. The instrumental repertoire of his translation criticism is influenced by Kitty van Leuven-Zwart’s and Cees Koster’s concepts of shifts and tertium comparationis, by Armin Paul Frank and colleagues’ study of transfers, and by Antoine Berman’s theory of ‘critique’. All of these approaches show an urge for developing corpus-based translation studies. They also contribute to efforts to construct a new model of analysis, which revises the fundamental translation issues, interpretative act and analysis, and introduces the newly-defined concepts of divergent similarity: relative divergence, radical divergence, and adaptation.

The corpus of this study is composed of two prominent nineteenth-century novels: Jane Austin’s Emma and three French translations; and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and six English-language versions. Ch. 2 (31–52) characterizes in great detail the textual features and historical contexts of the original editions and the existing translations. The scheme of the presentation shows some critical guidelines for the reception of the two novels. Ch. 3 (53–92) focuses on the intricacies of micro- and meso-level text analyses. Grounded in one passage from both novels and their translations, the overall analysis consists of assessing more than two dozen translational choices in the domains of syntax, lexis, and grammar, and also covers addition, elimination, and free indirect discourse. On the meso-level, it includes voice effects, interpretational effects, and the question of impact.

Ch 4 (93–127) and Ch. 5 (129–63) describe interpretations that readers construct from impressions of the translational choices separately in each novel. Thus, contraction and transformation change the potential directions of interpretation in Emma. In Madame Bovary, the picture is more complex, as the statistics record the change of certain choices (e.g. reduction, accretion, contraction) from abundance to substitution and absence in different translations. A macro-level view of translation is introduced in Ch. 6 (165–89), where a methodology is specified so as to map the necessarily fuzzy results of meso-level consideration and to envisage the relevant macro-level categories, which are ambiguously located between divergent similarity and radical divergence.

Ch. 7 (191–220), Ch. 8 (221–33), and Ch. 9 (235–56) practically describe the contours of radical divergence, along with adaptation, relative divergence, and divergent similarity, respectively, testing theoretical hypotheses from the previous chapters on the presented translations. This course, in a way, contributes to the methodology of presenting a translator’s personality. In the conclusion (257–69), the author reiterates the difficulty of categorizing translational choices and their effects, unveiling some theoretically dubious issues and inherent weaknesses. The question is open for further research. The book concludes with a bibliography, which is divided into three subdivisions—primary sources, secondary sources, and web sites, followed by name and subject indices.


California Indian languages

California Indian languages. By Victor Golla. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. Pp. 400. ISBN 9780520266674. $90 (Hb).

Reviewed by Peter Freeouf, Chiang Mai University

The ‘California of this book’ (1) extends from present-day Baja California into south-central Oregon. At the time of European contact, seventy-eight distinct languages were spoken in this area along the Pacific Coast of North America. A number of these languages are related to languages spoken elsewhere in North America. For others, any relationship to languages outside the area is tentative at best. Most of these languages are no longer spoken by native speakers, and the remaining ones are on the verge of extinction or are extremely endangered. This is the definitive overview on the pre-European California language area. The book includes a detailed account of the research and scholarship on the native languages of California, from the time of the first European contact and conquest to present-day linguistic study with its more sophisticated scientific orientation.

This book is divided into five principal parts: ‘Introduction: Defining California as a sociolinguistic area’ (1–9), ‘History of study’ (11–59),‘Languages and language families’ (61–201), ‘Typological and areal features: California as a linguistic area’ (203–37), and ‘Linguistic prehistory’ (239–58). The work begins with a detailed table of contents (vii–viii) followed by a short preface (ix–xi), and very detailed tables of the phonetic orthography used in the book (xiii–xiv).

The larger language groupings discussed in the third part, covering languages and language families, include Algic, Athabascan (Na-Dene), Hokan, Penutian, Uto-Aztecan, and unaffiliated languages. Subgroupings and individual languages are discussed under each category. A representative example is the section on Chimariko (87–90), a language of the Hokan group. The numbered topic headings include ‘Geography’, ‘Documentation and survival’, ‘Linguistic structure’, and ‘Nomenclature’, the last of which discusses the names used to designate the language and its speakers, both in the literature and by the speakers themselves.

There are four appendices. The first two are each a discussion, respectively, of the work of two earlier twentieth-century linguists, C. Hart Merriam (259–71) and John Peabody Harrington (273–81). Appendix C (283–86) presents five of the most important linguistic transcription systems used for California Indian languages in recent times, since the later part of the nineteenth century. Appendix D (287–94) contains lists of the basic numerals in fifty native Californian languages and dialects. There are also included a section of notes (295–321), an extensive bibliography (323–69), and a detailed index (371–80). The book includes numerous photographs of researchers and speakers of the languages, and there are detailed maps showing the location of languages and dialects. There are also many charts and tables displaying the phonemic structures and various inflectional paradigms of individual languages.

This book is a model of exceptional clarity and organization, and it is extremely user-friendly. It is a multifaceted work of encyclopedic comprehensiveness by a leading scholar of the native languages of North America. It will serve as an essential resource in the coming years for anyone with an interest in the languages, cultures, and histories of the native peoples of California and of the Americas.



Morphology: From data to theories. By Antonio Fabregas and Sergio Scalise. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012. Pp. xii, 209. ISBN 9780748643134. $37.50.

Reviewed by Mark J. Elson, University of Virginia

The authors describe their book as ‘targeted to advanced students’, and ‘presupposing some basic knowledge of general linguistics and, therefore, some familiarity with fundamental morphological notions that are part of the standard linguistic position’ (xi). The book comprises eight chapters: ‘Morphology: Definitions and basic concepts’ (1–21); ‘Morphological units’ (22–43); ‘Morphological structures’ (44–65); ‘Inflectional processes’ (66–85), ‘Derivational processes’ (86–110); ‘Compounding and other word-formation processes’ (111–32); ‘Morphology’s relation to syntax’ (133–51); and ‘Morphology’s relation to phonology and semantics’ (152–84). Each chapter includes exercises and a reading list, and is followed by answers to the exercises, references, and an index. The narrative is clear in both its verbiage and exemplification.

Although the chapter designations suggest that theory is confined largely to the penultimate and final chapters, it is an important part of the discussion of morphological units as well, in which we find treatment of the debate on the existence of the morpheme (29–36) and associated topics, including item-arrangement, item-process, and word-process. Otherwise, the discussion preceding the final chapters is organized in terms of data exemplifying phenomena encountered in the investigation of words and of the concepts to which they give rise (e.g. allomorphy, headedness, exocentricity, agglutination, fusion, morpheme types, inflection, derivation, compounding, productivity). The chapters on derivation and compounding are particularly good, each providing a well structured and exemplified survey of its subject and, in the case of derivation, its relation to inflection.

With regard to theory beyond that relevant to the morpheme as such, the authors include lexicalism (133–37) and constructionism (137–42) in their discussion of the relation of morphology to syntax. In their treatment of the relation of morphology to phonology and semantics, they include lexical strata theory (155–56), the separation hypothesis (159–61), and the late insertion hypothesis (161–63), among others. They also comment briefly on morphologization (148–51). There is no discussion, either in the treatment of the morpheme or that of the separationist approach, of the debate surrounding lexeme-based versus morpheme-based models, although this issue is relevant to the existence of the morpheme and the separationist approach, which themselves are connected. There is no significant discussion of morphological typology, although agglutination is mentioned.

Books aimed at more advanced students are essential but are in short supply. Their importance is obvious: they facilitate, through comprehensive but accessible coverage, the transition to the array of scholarly publications more focused in their subject matter and detailed in their theoretical orientation. For those who are fortunate enough to be part of a curriculum that offers an advanced course in morphology, this book will serve well, not only for its coverage, but also for the clarity of its exposition. If there is any criticism to be made, it is that the presentation is too brief in some areas of theory, a minor deficiency easily rectified by instructors. Beyond students, its value as a reference to others who need a brief introduction to issues and topics should not be underestimated. Theories are complex by nature, and this book as a first step to more detailed presentations of them is, therefore, a significant contribution to pedagogy and resource.


Analysing older English

Analysing older English. Ed by David Denison, Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero, Chris McCully, and Emma Moore. (Studies in English language.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp. 335. ISBN 9780521112468. $99 (Hb).

Reviewed by Jean-François Mondon, Minot State University

This book contains thirteen articles organized into five sections: metrics/onomastics, writing practices, dialects, phonology, and syntax. No stage of English is left untouched. Each of the five sections is introduced by one of the editors, and each introduction effectively serves as a detailed abstract for the following articles, some taking the tone of critical reviews.

Geoffrey Russom, in ‘What explanatory metrics has to say about the history of English function words’, argues that Old English metrical principles evolved into Middle English, arguing that the need for function words was curtailed by strict restrictions on placement in a line. Richard Coates studies in detail the process of onymization in his contribution, ‘To þære fulan flóde óf þære fulan flóde: On becoming a name in Easton and Winchester, Hampshire’. He concludes that it is more cost-effective for a name to be void of semantic content. Peter Kitson’s ‘Notes on some interfaces between place-name material and linguistic theory’ samples a variety of topics, ranging from the debate over the Celtic element in English place- and river-names to alleged syncope in herepaþ.

R. D. Fulk’s interesting article, ‘Anglian features in late West Saxon prose’, thoroughly reviews the different accounts for Anglian features in certain unplaced West Saxon texts, concluding that there was a one-way street, with original Anglian features being expunged. Roger Lass and Margaret Laing’s ‘ea in early Middle English: From diphthong to digraph’ provides a textually rich study of the fate of ea. Due to different phonological developments between its original long and short counterparts, ea came to be reinterpreted as a digraph capable of representing any front non-high vowel.

Joan Beal, in ‘Levelling and enregisterment in northern dialects of late Modern English’, studies dialect contact and formation in late–nineteenth-century Britain. April McMahon and Warren Maguire discuss the development of analytic methods for comparing languages and dialects as holistic entities in ‘Quantitative historical dialectology’. Terrtu Nevalainen, in ‘Reconstructing syntactic continuity and change in early modern English regional dialects: The case of who’, uncovers distinct systems of relativization between East Anglia and London, contradicting change from above.

Three articles deal specifically with phonological developments. Donka Minkova’s ‘Syllable weight and the weak-verb paradigms in Old English’ proposes that syncope was too opaque synchronically to serve as a determiner for the behavior of class 1 weak verbs. Nikolaus Ritt, in ‘How to weaken one’s consonants, strengthen one’s vowels, and remain English at the same time’, discusses the consistent yet distinct tendencies of consonant weakening and vocalic strengthening in English, which he colors with a discussion of how such tendencies are non-teleological. Derek Britton’s ‘Degemination in English, with special reference to the Middle English period’ deals with consonantal length becoming non-contrastive.

With respect to syntax, Olga Fischer, in ‘The status of the postposed “and-adjective” construction in Old English: Attributive or predicative?’, discusses the interpretation of postnominal adjectives, differentiating between those accompanied by a determiner and those without. Finally, Anthony Warner’s article, ‘DO with weak verbs in early modern English’, uses William Labov’s work on misperception to account for the rise of do in third-person singular negative declaratives of regular verbs.


A comparative grammar of the Dravidian or South Indian family of languages

A comparative grammar of the Dravidian or South Indian family of languages. By Robert Caldwell. (LINCOM gramatica 14.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2012. Pp. 640. ISBN 9783895861352. $119.50.

Reviewed by Elly van Gelderen, Arizona State University

This book was originally printed in 1856, and Robert Caldwell put out a second edition in 1875. The current edition is a reprint of the 1913 third edition, prepared by J. L. Wyatt and T. Ramakkrishna Pillai. It remains a fascinating read, surprisingly accessible, and clearly reproduced by LINCOM Europa. C, who lived from 1814–1891, has been regarded as a pioneer in Dravidian linguistics, making the case that Dravidian was not a branch of Indo-European, as had been assumed. As Thomas Trautmann (e.g. ‘Discovering Aryan and Dravidian in British India’, 2004) has shown, however, C was not the first to claim the independence of Dravidian from Indo-European. This honor goes to Francis Whyte Ellis, who lived from 1777 to 1819.

The first hundred pages or so of the grammar are devoted to a general introduction of the Dravidian languages, to the earliest traces of Dravidian, and to how Dravidian languages are independent from Indo-European but somewhat related to Scythian. The latter term is used to include Finnish, Turkish, Mongolian, and Tungusian (61), and it is mainly due to their common agglutinative nature that they are seen as related. C cites Rasmus Rask as having related Dravidian to Scythian, although Rask ‘did little more than suggest this relationship’ (62) and did not work it out. The first part of the grammar concerns the alphabets, the sounds, and the ‘harmonic sequence of vowels’.

The remaining major parts of the book discuss roots, the noun, the numerals, the pronoun, the verb, and glossarial affinities. There are extensive discussions on the nature of number and case. Pronouns, especially the first person, are said to be among the most stable (359), and the nominative pronoun and the verbal inflections are virtually the same. C reconstructs the first pronoun as nâ, yâ, or â and second person as nî, yî, or î and considers whether the vowels could be related to the distal and remote demonstratives but concludes that this cannot be the case since a is remote and i proximate demonstrative (372). We then read a comparison between Dravidian pronouns and Semitic, Indo-European, and Scythian ones. The included tables containing Dravidian pronouns and those of other Indian languages are very helpful (416–19). Demonstratives and interrogatives are seen as related, and the lack of relative pronouns is noted.

In Dravidian, a root can turn into a noun if it has case and into a verb if it has verbal inflection. The verb has one declension and may be compounded with a noun. Intransitives can be transitivized in a number of ways, and verbal nouns play an important role in Dravidian. The book’s final part provides affinities in the Dravidian lexicon to Indo-European, Semitic, and Scythian. True to his time, C uses terms such as ‘rude’, ‘uncultivated’, and ‘primitive’, but that does not obscure his interesting observations and descriptions.

Methods and strategies of process research

Methods and strategies of process research: Integrative approaches in translation studies. Ed. by Cecilia Alvstad, Adelina Hild, and Elisabet Tiselius. (Benjamins translation library 94.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. xii, 377. ISBN 9789027224422. $143 (Hb).

Reviewed by Taras Shmiher, Ivan Franko National University

This book marks the significance of Birgitta Englund Dimitrova’s translation process–oriented research. The three parts of the book embrace a variety of data types and methodological issues.

Part 1 focuses on conceptual and methodological discussions. Cecilia Wadensjö (13–21) concentrates on the development of two competing trends in studies of interpreting: evidence-based interpreting practice vs. interpreting as an academic field. Andrew Chesterman (23–35) discusses the well-known literal translation hypothesis that while processing a text, translators tend to start from a literal version of the target text and then move toward a freer one. Arnt Lykke Jakobsen (37–55) summarizes the results of some experimental studies on the addition of eye-tracking to keylogging, which has made it possible to examine in much greater detail the way a translator processes text.

In an article by Brian Mossop (57–66) we find a model for a translator’s self-analysis. An article by Sonia Vandepitte and Robert J. Hartsuiker (67–92) incorporates approaches from psycholinguistics and translation studies to investigate how translators deal with metonymic language. Performance analysis, as a tool for identifying cognitive translation processes, is presented in an article by Gregory M. Shreve, Isabel Lacruz, and Erik Angelone (93–120). Šárka Timarová, Barbara Dragsted, and Inge Gorm Hansen (121–46) contribute to the methodological exploration of the time lag between the source text input and the interpreter’s target text.

Part 2 deals with process research in interpreting and translation. Miriam Shlesinger and Ruth Almog (149–68) share their experience from Israel’s two-year Translation Skills Program for secondary schools whose aim is to develop students’ meta-linguistic awareness and enrich their command of two languages. A behavioral study by Antin Fougner Rydning and Christian Lachaud (169–86) examines the cognitive processing of primary and complex conceptual metaphors during the initial step of translation process (i.e. comprehension). Alexander Künzli and Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow (187–200) present an experimental study of reception capacity and audience response to subtitled movies; meanwhile, Ulf Norberg (219–29) shows cognitive processes during the translation of complex wordplay. Two case studies that follow produce extensive theoretical insights: one by Daniel Gile (201–18), scrutinizing errors, omissions, and infelicities in President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech as broadcast in French, German and Japanese, and one by Claudia V. Angelelli (231–46), penetrating a typical conversation between an English-speaking healthcare provider and a Spanish-speaking patient about chronic illnesses via critical discourse analysis.

Part 3 contributes to the study of interpreting and translation expertise. Adelina Hild (249–67) presents an experimental expert-novice comparison study for the effects of linguistic complexity by analyzing syntactic metrics. The studies by Elisabet Tiselius and Gard B. Jenset (269–300) report on the differences in performance between interpreters with short and long periods of experience. Gun-Viol Vik-Tuovinen (301–15) explores how professional thinking and acting are elaborated and expanded in the framework of interpreting. Aimed at the validation of its translation competence model, the Procés d’Adquisició de la Competència Traductora i Avaluació (PACTE) Group (317–43) presents one of its study variables: identification and solution of translation problems.

The book ends with an interview with Dimitrova, conducted by Elisabet Tiselius (345–59), followed by a list of Englund Dimitrova’s publications (361–66), notes on the book’s contributors, and an index of subjects.