Monthly Archives: June 2013

Arabic language and linguistics

Arabic language and linguistics. Ed. by Reem Bassiouney and E. Graham Katz. (Georgetown University roundtable on languages and linguistics.) Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2012. Pp. xiv, 232. ISBN 9781589018853. $44.95.

 Reviewed by Dimitrios Ntelitheos, United Arab Emirates University

This book is a collection of articles from the 2010 Georgetown University roundtable on languages and linguistics, including grammatical, computational, sociolinguistic, and language pedagogy analyses. The book is divided into two parts; the first focuses on theoretical and computational linguistics, and the second discusses issues in sociolinguistics and applied linguistics.

The book starts with a discussion of negation in Moroccan Arabic by Nizha Chatar-Moumni. The author argues that sentential negation in the dialect results from the association of the negative particle ma- and an undefined quantifier, while the presence of the –S suffix licenses this association. Kamel A. Elsaadany and Salwa Muhammed Shams discuss the syntax and semantics of universal quantification in Arabic, arguing against a transformational analysis of the properties of the universal quantifier kull, proposing a lexical-functional grammar approach.

Ali Farghaly turns the discussion to statistical and symbolic paradigms in the field of Arabic computational linguistics, tracing the historical development of machine translation attempts. Youssef A. Haddad returns to Arabic syntax with a discussion of forward and backward raising, and non-raising structures, which he approaches through the Copy-plus-Merge theory of movement. Sarah Ouwayda explores the nominal domain and, specifically, the treatment of construct state nominals as semantic predicates of the type <e,t>, based on their interaction with adjectives, cardinals, and quantifiers. Usama Soltan investigates wh-questions in Egyptian Arabic and argues against a movement analysis based on empirical evidence form island insensitivity and intervention effects. The first part concludes with a historical discussion of the treatment of ‘incomplete’ verbs in the Arabic grammatical tradition, by Hana Zabarah.

The second part begins with a study on women and politeness on Egyptian talk shows by Reem Bassiouney, focusing on assertiveness techniques such as interruption and floor controlling. Elena Canna examines the use of Arabic and French codes in Casablanca, targeting forms of address and, particularly, salutations and well-wishing formulas, showing that choice of code is controlled by social conditions. Ahmed Fakhri presents a genre analysis perspective on the derivational process of nominalization in Arabic discourse in legal genres such as court judgments. Gunvor Mejdell examines the status of intermediate forms of language emerging in diglossic language communities, in order to dissolve tensions concerning the choice of code.

Catherine Miller investigates the use of Moroccan Arabic in dubbing foreign series in Moroccan television, addressing the debate that this has initiated in Moroccan society. Karin Christina Ryding concentrates on academic Arabic programs and the concept of critical thinking. The author argues for explicit grammar instruction within communicative teaching as a process that enhances the learners’ cognitive development. Yasir Suleiman considers the extralinguistic motives behind the compilation of pre-Islamic period grammars, treating grammar-making as a process that is informed by ideological considerations. Finally, David Wilmsen closes the second part with a discussion of dialectal variation in the expression of ditransitive verb arguments.

This book is a valuable collection of articles for anyone interested in Arabic linguistics from a theoretical point of view, and in the possible computational, social, and educational applications of these theoretical insights.

A simplified grammar of the Roumanian language

A simplified grammar of the Roumanian language. By R. Torceanu. (LINCOM gramatica 51.) LINCOM Europa, 2011. Pp. 79. ISBN 9783862900374. $22.99.

Reviewed by John Ryan, University of Northern Colorado

A simplified grammar of the Roumanian language by R. Torceanu was originally published in 1883 with the same title by Trübner & Co. of London as part of a series of ‘simplified grammars’. A reminder of the book’s age is the former English spelling of ‘Roumanian’, now considered obsolete, which has been preserved in the title of the new edition. The book is divided into ten unnumbered major sections (numbered here for convenience) which correspond to the Romanian alphabet, eight of the major parts of speech, and syntax. The book’s preface provides a short introduction to the external history of the Romanian language and a brief description of where in the world it was spoken at the time the book was written.

Section 1 begins with a list of the Romanian alphabet, followed by five pages of ‘phonetic remarks’, or ‘hints’ as the author suggests since there is not enough room for a more exhaustive account. The focus is primarily on the pronunciation of the vowels. Sections 2 through 8, which comprise the principal focus of the book, pertain to Romanian grammar in terms of each of the parts of speech. The subject of Section 2 is nouns and covers such areas as gender (masculine, feminine, and neuter), pluralization, and accent/intonation. Closely related is the topic of Section 3, the article, the explanation of which is dependent on the previously covered explanations of gender. This section finishes with a short explanation of the cases of nouns.

Section 4 presents the use of the adjective, including formation of the feminine from the masculine, comparisons of inequality, and numerals. Section 5 treats the use of pronouns, both standard use and abbreviated forms of the genitive and dative. The section ends with corresponding subsections on reflexive, possessive, demonstrative, interrogative, relative, and indeterminate pronouns. Section 6, the longest of sections, covers the use of verbs. Beginning with the formation of the three auxiliary verbs in all its tenses, discussion then proceeds to a comprehensive treatment of regular verbs and formation of all tenses for all three conjugations. The section ends with short subcomponents on the passive voice, reflexives, and irregular and impersonal verbs.

The last three sections of the book relevant to the parts of speech are adverbs (Section 7), prepositions (Section 8), and conjunctions and interjections (Section 9). Section 10, the final section of the book, pertains to syntax and provides a more detailed explanation of the use of cases of nouns and also of how the different parts of speech interact syntactically.

This book will make an adequate resource for students needing very basic information about structures in Romanian, particularly the use of verbs. For a more comprehensive treatment of grammatical structures, students might find some other, more current, resource more helpful.

Contours of English and English language studies

Contours of English and English language studies. Ed. by Michael Adams and Anne Curzan. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2011. Pp. 376. ISBN 9780472034666. $35.95.

 Reviewed by Kanavillil Rajagopalan, State University at Campinas (UNICAMP)

This book contains a collection of papers looking at ‘the contours of scholarship about the English language’ which, according to the editors, were ‘redrawn dramatically’ (1) after World War II. It comprises sixteen chapters, divided into four parts. The final chapter in each part is a response to the three others. As the blurb on the back cover announces, ‘[e]ach part is structured neither miscellaneously nor as a debate, but rather as an unfolding disciplinary conversation’. The editors declare in their introduction to the book their indebtedness to the late Richard Weld Bailey, whose monumental contribution to English studies (fifty-one entries in the bibliographical references) has inspired most of the contributors and whose name figures prominently in many of the chapters.

Part 1, titled ‘American dialects’, is concerned with work on dialects of American English (e.g. Michigander dialect, African American English). The response article highlights the author’s perspective on the issue as someone who was brought up in a low-prestige language community and also highlights the relevance of Bailey’s seminal work to our current discussions.

Part 2 is concerned with the history of the English language. The three chapters look at the concept of ‘talking proper’, developed in nineteenth-century England, the etymology of the word wife, and the growing presence of English in Asia, with focus on Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan. Each of these chapters gesture toward the future of the language, as the response piece rightly points out.

English lexicography is the theme of Part 3. The chapters address issues such as the enormous word-creating potential of American English manifested through different techniques of word formation, how quotation paragraph work in historical dictionaries, and why there has been little research on Irish English, in particular on compiling a dictionary of this variety based on historical principles. The response article to the three papers in this part draws attention to modern digital technology in the creation of dictionaries and how it can lead to lexicography as a collaborative enterprise.

Part 4 is titled ‘English language studies and education’ and consists of three chapters addressing the issues of how much progress has been made in research on African American English and the way it is dealt with in educational circles, what kind of changes have occurred in the last fifty years in language use and language scholarship, and ‘returning language to writing studies’ (298) as the final chapter declares in its very title.

In addition to the general introduction, each part also has its own separate introduction to the themes discussed in the chapters, which helps to put in perspective the rationale for why the chapters were selected. The book includes a sixty-three-page bibliography, brief notes on the contributors, and an index of key terms.

Language, thought, and reality: Selected writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf

Language, thought, and reality: Selected writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. 2nd edn. Ed. by John B. Carroll, Stephen C. Levinson, and Penny Lee. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012. Pp. 424. ISBN 9780262517751. $ 35.

Reviewed by Kanavillil Rajagopalan, State University at Campinas (UNICAMP)

In his forward, Stephen Levinson sums up the unbelievably checkered life of this book, first published in 1956 and now hitting the stands again: ‘Initially admired, then reviled, then rehabilitated, then once again attacked, it has proved unsinkable’ (vii). He goes on to expatiate on why Benjamin Lee Whorf’s name is so controversial and often invites acerbic and disparaging dismissals. Nevertheless, the very fact that it continues to resurface every now and then bears testimony to its vitality and robustness.

The book is a collection of eighteen of Whorf’s seminal papers. These cover his fourteen years as a part-time academic. Whorf published very little during his short span of life, which ended in 1941 at the age of forty-four. The book contains some material Whorf left unpublished, along with the original introduction to the book by John B. Carroll, spanning forty-three pages. In addition, the so-called ‘Yale report’ (a report on linguistic research in the Department of Anthropology of Yale University from September 1937 to June 1938) is reproduced in full as an appendix. According to Levinson, Whorf wrote it alone, although the name of George Trager appears as coauthor, as he ‘probably intended to revise it’ (xix).

Undoubtedly, as Levinson makes clear, the renewed interest in Whorf today is taking place in tandem with the decline in enthusiasm for the generative paradigm and disenchantment with its unflinching commitment to universalism against all mounting evidence to the contrary. Whorf’s ideas on connections among the three concepts highlighted in the title of this book, namely, language, thought, and reality, have immense resonance among contemporary researchers.

Curiously enough, the opening text in the book is an unpublished essay dated 1927, ‘partly type-written, partly hand-written’ as part of a correspondence addressed to a certain Dr. English, is titled ‘On the connection of ideas’. Whorf examines words, not ideas, in a manner that reminds one of ordinary language philosophers, notably J. L. Austin. The last four essays, namely, ‘Science and linguistics (1940)’, ‘Linguistics as an exact science (1940)’, ‘Languages and logic (1941)’, and ‘Language, mind, and reality (1941)’, contain food for thought valid even today.

No fewer than eight of the essays deal with indigenous languages of America. They cover a diverse array of topics. Three others draw on Whorf’s field experience but address topics of a more general, philosophical interest. The odd one out, titled ‘On psychology’, is an undated fragment. Whorf impresses the reader with his forthrightness in claims such as the following: ‘Psychology has developed a field of research that may no doubt be useful or valuable in itself; but it throws little or no light on the problems of the normal human mind or soul’ (51).

Gitksan phonotactics

Gitksan phonotactics. By Jason Brown. (LINCOM studies in Native American linguistics 63.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2010. Pp. 125. ISBN 9783895865893. $82.

Reviewed by Kyle Gorman, Oregon Health & Science University

This monograph, a revision of the Jason Brown’s 2009 University of British Columbia dissertation, examines gradient consonant cooccurrence restrictions found in the lexicon of Gitksan, an endangered Interior Tsimshianic language spoken in British Columbia. This analysis is couched in harmonic grammar, in which input-output mappings are selected by numerically weighted constraints. The analysis is up-to-date and carefully argued.

B asserts that all statistically significant restrictions in the lexicon should be incorporated into the synchronic grammar, an assumption shared in much of the previous research on phonotactics: ‘…the patterns outlined above are statistically significant. Given this, it stands that these sound patterns should be explained by some linguistic mechanism’ (48). While it would be a result of great interest were it to be shown that statistical criteria are both necessary and sufficient to identify phonotactic generalizations that are linguistically significant (i.e. internalized by speakers), there is no reason to grant this assumption; a plausible alternative is that lexical tendencies are the result of a long complete diachronic change, but synchronically inert. Indeed, B himself suggests that the high frequency of roots containing multiple uvular consonants is the result of a diachronic process of long-distance assimilation. No attempt is made to show that the documented tendencies are reflected in word-likeness judgments or other psycholinguistic tasks.

B identifies lexical tendencies by comparing the observed cooccurrence statistics to those that would arise by free combination, estimated with a Monte Carlo technique (Brett Kessler, The significance of word lists, 2001). This requires a random shuffling procedure which is unbiased, one for which all n! possible permutations of the list are equally likely to be generated, which further demands a pseudo-random number generator (PRNG) with a period of at least (n – 1)!. Even for the relatively short root list used in this study (n = 645), the minimum period required is approximately 25080  (≈ 644!), far exceeding the abilities of all but the most sophisticated PRNGs. In such a situation, all but a tiny fraction of the possible permutations of this wordlist can never be generated by shuffling, and the Monte Carlo procedure is biased.

B argues that gradient phonotactics should be considered in future efforts to document endangered languages. Ignoring questions about the synchronic status of the generalizations in question and the statistical procedure used to identify them, a catalog of gradient lexical tendencies is surely of far less documentary value than an enumeration of roots, since the former can be extracted from the latter. Unfortunately, B does not provide a root list and describes few substantive details of the phonological analysis used to phonemicize these roots.

 The book itself suffers from an unusually small typeface, poorly rendered figures, and many stylistic and typographical errors, although I found none of consequence.

Vernacular eloquence: What speech can bring to writing

Vernacular eloquence: What speech can bring to writing. By Peter Elbow. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. 456. ISBN 9780199782512. $19.95.

Reviewed by David D. Robertson, Spokane, WA

Peter Elbow’s long bibliography of investigations into freewriting culminates in this deeply informed and readable book. Eschewing footnotes and long-form citations for an intentionally personal point of view, he reaches conclusions that are frequently surprising but uniformly well-backed. E deftly summarizes research by scholars like Douglas Biber, Camilla Vasquez, and Wallace Chafe on ‘what’s best in speaking and writing’ (Part 1, especially Ch. 1). He highlights the communicative strengths of each as activities, modalities, and subjects of linguistic analysis, the clearest differences separating spontaneous speech, and planned writing. The fortes of writing (Ch. 2) include preserving utterances, sharing data, doing mathematics, and perceiving speech as an object. The act of speaking excels (Ch. 3) at being easy, getting to the gist, facilitating dialogue, and being inherently satisfying. Detailing the ‘virtues’ of speech (Chs. 4–5), E notes the superiority of speech at connecting with audiences; its freedom from standardized, restrictive syntax, nominalizing tendencies, etc.; and—partly because of intonation—its greater processibility and informational coherency. Ch. 6 argues the book’s core claim, that the ease of speaking can and should help improve people’s performance at the more difficult activity, writing.

Part 2, ‘Speaking onto the page’, carries this theme, referring to M.A.K. Halliday’s ideas of the two modalities as occupying a continuum. Ch. 7 discusses how unrehearsed drafting transfers speech’s strengths onto the academic page; Ch. 8 notes other frequent venues of spontaneous writing: diaries and letters, written exams, and now also blogs and email. In Ch. 9, E pauses to parry objections to harnessing casual speech in writing. Linguists recognize some (‘speaking onto the page will hasten impurity and change in written language’, 191ff); others perhaps less so (‘speech is for everyone, but literacy is an exclusionary club’, 196). E also specifies (in Ch. 10) his awareness that continual revision and editing remain necessary for success with unplanned and strictly formal writing.

Part 3 explores a reverse process. Reading one’s composition aloud is an unimpeachable check for fluency (Ch. 11), exposing the presence or absence of invaluable structures like intonation units, sounds and ‘music’ (Ch. 12). Ch. 13 on punctuation is especially well-researched, meditating on conflicting traditions and misleading assumptions. These can be handled by ‘careful reading aloud and listening’ (Ch. 14), letting one take advantage of the time-bound and -binding qualities of written language (Ch. 15, summarizing in Ch. 16). Part 4 examines writing as a gateway to literacy, considering why high-literacy culture tends to exclude speech (Ch. 17) and optimistically foreseeing changes to the status quo (Ch. 18).

E’s already lively presentation finishes each chapter with an evocative historical ‘Literacy story’. This book as a whole amounts to one keenly engaged observer’s literacy forecast: it concludes that the future promises a decentralized standard of good writing as that which genuinely reaches an audience. That point is well made and sure to inspire many an educator in this exciting and challenging time of flux. Those of us who teach grammar, usage, and composition will find here a sane perspective on hitherto hard and fast rules of English writing.

A short grammar of Alorese (Austronesian)

A short grammar of Alorese (Austronesian). By Marian Klamer. (Languages of the world/materials 486.) Munich: LINCOM, 2011. Pp. 142. ISBN 9783862881727. $69.20.

Reviewed by Daniel W. Hieber, Rosetta Stone

This book is a short grammatical sketch of Alorese, a still-vital Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) language spoken by 25,000 speakers in Eastern Indonesia and used as a regional lingua franca until the mid-1970s. It is based on a small corpus (500 lexical items, three texts, and approximately 250 elicited sentences) collected by Marian Klamer in 2003. Since Alorese is both surrounded by Papuan languages and situated at some distance from its nearest genealogical relative, Lamaholot, the book examines Alorese from a primarily areal and diachronic perspective.

In the introduction, K shows that Alorese and Lamaholot share only between 52.6% and 58.6% lexical similarity and that Alorese has lost nearly all its inflectional and derivational morphology while gaining a new set of pronouns. The two languages are mutually unintelligible, which is apparently the effect of Alorese having undergone a period of ‘imperfect or second language learning’, presumably because of its status as a trade language. In Ch. 8, ‘Alorese from an areal perspective’, K determines that some Papuan features of Alorese are due to reflexes of Papuan influences on Proto-Lamaholot, while others are due to more recent, direct contact. An appendix provides a 270-word lexical comparison of Alorese and Lamaholot, as well as two glossed texts.

Standard grammatical topics comprise the rest of the book: phonology, nouns and noun phrases, verbs, clause structure, sentence types, and clause combinations. K shows that Alorese is nominative-accusative in its alignment (indicated via word order) and exhibits no distinct category of adjective. The only productive morphological process is reduplication, and zero-derivation is rampant. The language has no indigenous means of marking relative clauses (K does not say whether it has other, borrowed techniques), nor is there a formal means of indicating complementation, making Alorese of potential theoretical interest for its syntactic simplicity.

For such a small corpus, this sketch is impressive, and constitutes a worthy contribution to the linguistics of East Indonesia. The book does, however, show problems common to books in LINCOM’s languages of the world series, including typos, formatting problems, and inconsistency in glosses, glossing styles, and fonts. It is fairly expensive for a small paperback and is not available in digital format. Its double-spaced text means that much of the book is white space. As far as content, it is disappointing that only two of the three texts are included in the appendix, and only half the lexical items, when such a small corpus could have been included in its entirety. Although the work is only a short sketch, many sections could have been much improved with minimal elaboration, such as the details of the alienable-inalienable possession or the demonstrative system. K also adopts a non-International Phonetic Alphabet orthography, but it is unclear whether this orthography is pedagogical (for the purpose of local literacy) or practical (for ease of typing).

In sum, these problems are relatively minor, and perhaps understandable. The book is an excellent overview of the previously undescribed Alorese language and is recommended for anyone interested in the linguistics of East Indonesia, language simplification through contact, languages purported to lack an adjective class, or languages with little evidence for clausal complements.

A grammar of Creek (Muskogee)

A grammar of Creek (Muskogee). By Jack B. Martin. (Studies in the anthropology of North American Indianas series.) Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2011. Pp. 504. ISBN 9780803211063. $75 (Hb).

Reviewed by David Douglas Robertson, Spokane, WA

There are many reasons to welcome Jack B. Martin’s grammar of the Muskogean language Creek, also called Muskogee. The most visible is that this detailed account of phonology, orthography, morphology, and syntax was prepared in digestibly short chapters. The scope of each is a coherent idea, as a result avoiding the daunting breadth of so many grammars’ syntax chapters. At the same time, a refreshing openness to presenting sensibly related notions makes chapters like ‘Expressing time: Tense and related notions’ (Ch. 29) useful mini-surveys of the various ways a given category can be expressed in a language.

The collaboration of native-speaking sisters Margaret Mauldin and Juanita McGirt offers a depth and nuance that are much to be admired. The explication of innumerable fine points of Creek is invigorated by firsthand evaluations such as that of imperatives using -ip ‘indirect causative’ as ‘gentler’ (291). Likewise, the consultants’ evident linguistic sophistication enables them to clearly specify circumstances in which uncommon but acceptable constructions are used (cf. their comments about ‘independent’ freestanding pronouns, 408).

With a sharp eye and a deft hand, M dissects the notorious complexity of Creek verbs. These exploit simultaneously several morpho-phonological dimensions from ‘grades’ (~stem-internal changes) to infixation and affixation, expressing aspect, tense, mood, and several other categories. There is additionally the option of expressing verbals either as single words or periphrastically by adding an inflected copula; these periphrases can at times be contracted. Verbs understandably comprise approximately half the book (i.e. Chs. 19–36, of forty-four chapters), with a fourteen-page example paradigm of a single verb (423–35) illustrating the highly nuanced nature of this class. Nonspecialists will have to mentally translate the term ‘triplural’ to ‘plural’ (as opposed to the dual).

With its sensitivity to native-speaker intuitions and usage, this study contains several sections that stand out as addressing topics often omitted from grammatical descriptions: those on names (§44.4 et al.), and both ordinal and adverbial numerals (§33.2–3). More technical but equally useful additions include the notes on the grouping of syllables into feet (§6.2) and recognizing word shapes by category (§6.3).

The organization of this grammar is unusual in ways that faithfully reflect Creek structure. The section on discourse markers (Chs. 37–40) precedes that on syntax, but several of the discourse markers are actually affixal, which justifies their discussion adjacent to the morphosyntax. The reader might at first wonder why there is no section titled, say, simply ‘adverbs’ or ‘adjectives’, but M shows clearly how both functions are borne primarily by (certain kinds of) nouns and verbs (Chs. 17 and 27, §42.3, §3.5, §11.4, and Ch. 18, respectively).

There are symbols that M employs that are not defined in the section listing abbreviations and conventions, for example the apostrophe for a postulated deleted vowel. In addition, distinguishing plain V (verb) from italic V (vowel) could be mildly confusing for nonspecialist readers. These are very minor quibbles about a model work of ethnolinguistic documentation.

Interactions across Englishes: Linguistic choices in local and international contact situations

Interactions across Englishes: Linguistic choices in local and international contact situations. By Christiane Meierkord. (Studies in English language.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. 264. ISBN 9780521192286. $105 (Hb).

 Reviewed by Sofia Rüdiger, University of Bayreuth

Christiane Meierkord’s book focuses on interactions between non-native speakers of English stemming from diverse, often multilingual, backgrounds. The aim, as outlined in the first chapter, is to develop a theoretical framework for the description of how varieties of English mix and blend in interaction and how the resultant varieties can be described on the levels of phonetics, phonology, morphosyntax, lexicon, and discourse. In addition, the book aims to connect theoretical considerations with descriptive accounts.

Following a short introduction, M explains how she loosely based her theoretical approach on Braj Kachru’s three circles model in order to differentiate between intranational interactions across Englishes (i.e. in the outer circle countries) and international interactions across Englishes (i.e. including participants from expanding circle countries).

Ch. 2 explicates the notion of English as a lingua franca, challenges several ‘myths’ regarding the concept, and provides a historical overview. Other lingua francas, such as Kiswahili, Malay, and Quechua are also introduced. Ch. 3 considers the nature of language contact and its processes and products: code-alternation, nonce-borrowing, and the mixing and leveling of varieties. The following chapter introduces M’s interactions-across-Englishes (IaE) model. Essentially, all participants of an interaction bring their individual features to the ‘feature pool’ from which they can then, with certain constraints, select.

Ch. 5 looks at IaEs between participants from outer circle countries located in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific (e.g. Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Fiji). M then proceeds to focus on the situation in South Africa, detailing the countries multilingual history and ecology before introducing her own data. M’s project consists of twenty-seven interviews with participants from diverse social backgrounds, focusing on interactions between black and colored speakers. Excerpts from the interviews are used to exemplify phonological, grammatical, and lexical choices made during these IaEs.

Ch. 7 looks at trends and developments regarding the use of English in expanding circle countries and how these countries use English for international IaEs. The highly diversified situation of interaction between participants from the outer circle and participants from the expanding circle in English (termed global IaEs) is highlighted in Ch. 8.

M introduces another of her projects in which she collected data from an international hall of residence open to students from expanding and outer circle nations. Even though outer circle English speakers bring features from their local English variety to the feature pool, whereas expanding circle English speakers bring structures associated with learners’ communication strategies, all speakers seem to accommodate to each other. M analyzes these data at the levels of vocabulary, grammar, and discourse. The concluding chapter summarizes the IaE-framework, places it in relation to previous research, and offers an outlook on the future of IaEs, especially in terms of the Internet.

This book introduces an interesting new approach to interactions across varieties of English. Especially valuable is the inclusion of the chapter on interactions between outer circle and expanding circle English speakers, since this subject matter has often been neglected by previous studies. Students might especially profit from the chapter on English as a lingua franca, which provides a very good overview of the topic.

Language Teaching Research and Language Pedagogy

Language Teaching Research and Language Pedagogy Ed. by Rod R. Ellis. Willey -Blackwell, 2012. Pp. 387. ISBN 9781444336115.

Reviewed by Eirene C. Katsarou, Greek EFL State Teacher

The volume consists of eleven chapters. In Chapter 1 ‘Introduction: Developments in Language Teaching Research’ (1-19) a brief history of language teaching research as was  recorded in major journals of the area is provided and an overview of the main language teaching research areas discussed in the book is presented. Chapter 2 ‘Methods for Researching the Second Language Classroom’ (21- 49) considers some of the main research traditions followed in the area of L2 language teaching such as ‘discourse analysis’,  ‘conversational analysis’ and the ‘ethnography of communication’ in terms of their theoretical underpinnings, their research design, their data collection methods and the methods of data analysis. Chapter 3 ‘Comparative Method Studies’ (51-73) distinguishes between ‘global’ and ‘local’ comparative method studies focusing specifically on the former in an effort to examine and assess the variety of methods/approaches applied in L2 teaching over a long period of time in terms of gains in general language proficiency and achievement. Chapter 4 ‘Second Language Classroom Discourse’ (75-114) examines research that illuminates a number of key aspects of L2 classroom discourse such as teachers’ turn-taking mechanisms, IRF (initiate-respond-follow-up) exchanges, participant structure, repair sequences and scaffolding based on results of microgenetic and ethnolinguistic methods of specific interactional sequences in the L2 classroom. Chapter 5 ‘Focus on the Teacher’ (115-149) examines some of the key characteristics of teacher’s use of language in the L2 classroom, i.e. teacher talk, teacher questions, use of the L1, metalanguage, corrective feedback and teacher belief systems on L2 language teaching.

Chapter 6 ‘Focus on the Learner’ (151-193) looks into descriptive studies of different aspects of learners’ use of language in the L2 classroom such as the silent period and private speech, use of formulaic speech, structural and semantic simplification, use of the first language (L1), use of metalanguage, discourse features, uptake, language play and learner-talk in small group work. Chapter 7 ‘Investigating the Performance of Tasks’ (195-235) discusses research on the language use resulting from performing tasks in the classroom and on how the design and implementation variables impact on the way tasks are performed through micro- and macro-evaluations of task-based (TBLT) language teaching. Chapter 8 ‘Interaction and L2 Learning in the Classroom’ (237-270) examines the extent to which classroom input and interaction contributes to learning drawing on the premises of (i) sociocultural theory and (ii) interactionist-cognitive theory which both view interaction as providing learners with input, feedback and opportunities to modify their own output which connect with learnerinternal processing to foster L2 acquisition. Chapter 9 ‘Form-focused Instruction and Second Language Learning’ (271-306) addresses research that has investigated deliberate attempts, planned instructional activities to teach specific linguistic forms (‘focus on form’ (FFI) instruction). Chapter 10 ‘Instruction, Individual Differences and L2 Learning’ (307-335) reviews research on the relationship between individual learner factors and instruction and emphasizes the bi-directionality of this relationship as L2 learners’ initial affective and motivational states and cognitive abilities can both affect and be affected by the type of instruction they experience in the L2 language classroom. Finally, Chapter 11 ‘Conclusion: Research and Language Teaching’ (337-348) concludes the book through a discussion of ways in which the language teaching research reviewed in the preceding chapters of the book can contribute to language teaching practice.

Ellis provides a state-of-the-art review of second language teaching research intended for both L2 teachers and researchers familiarizing them with the most recent findings in the area to assist them to conduct further research in their own classrooms. Some of the key issues that have figured in language teaching research over the last sixty years are identified and highly clarified and the limitations of the research methods that have been employed for their investigation are revisited.

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