Monthly Archives: October 2013

Orthographies in early modern Europe

Orthographies in early modern Europe. Ed. by Susan Baddeley and Anja Voeste. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2012. Pp. vi, 383. ISBN 9783110288179. $140 (Hb).
Reviewed by David Elton Gay, Bloomington, IN

The orthographies of many early modern European languages are well-known to students of these languages for their often difficult and misleading spellings. The languages have, typically, shifted from the middle to early modern stages of their development, yet the orthographies often fail to reflect that changes have occurred. Other languages are just being written, and these orthographies often pose puzzles of their own. This book looks at both languages with long histories of writing and some that are only just coming into writing in the early modern period, offering a guide to the complexities of the early modern orthographies of these languages.

The book opens with a general essay on the orthographies and their problems by the editors.’ After the introduction to the problems of early modern orthographies, the book moves to studies of orthographies of selected Romance, Germanic, Slavic, and Finno-Ugric languages. The essays of the first section look at Romance languages. Elena Lamas Pombo writes about ‘Variation and standardization in the history of Spanish’. Andreas Michel then takes up ‘Italian orthography in Early Modern times’, which is followed by Susan Baddeley’s essay, ‘French orthography in the 16th century’. The book’s second section deals with early modern Germanic languages. Terttu Nevalainen describes ‘Variable focusing in English spelling between 1400 and 1600’. Anja Voeste then offers a study of ‘The emergence of suprasegmental spellings in German’, and, finally, Alexander Zheltukhin describes ‘Variable norms in 16th-century Swedish orthography’. The third section then takes up the Slavic languages. Daniel Bunčić looks at ‘The standardization of Polish orthography in the 16th century’. Tilman Berger then examines the intersection of religion and orthographies in ‘Religion and diacritics: The case of Czech orthography’. It is followed by Roland Marti’s essay, ‘On the creation of Croatian: The development of Croatian Latin orthography in the 16th century’. The book’s final section examines two Finno-Ugrian languages. Klára Korompay’s essay is on ‘16th-century Hungarian orthography’, and Taru Nordlund’s essay, ‘Standardization of Finnish orthography: From reformists to national awakeners’, then closes the book.

Although the essays in the book are somewhat inconsistent in their quality, the book does an important service for historical linguists in highlighting the importance of orthography and other philological and textual issues in the study of early modern languages. The essays remind historical linguists and others about the importance of editing and textual criticism in the interpretation of early modern texts. The texts that historical linguists use are typically the regularized editions of modern scholars, which sometimes differ in linguistically significant ways from the manuscript and early printed versions that are the basis for the editions. This book is a very useful guide back to the originals of these texts.

Semitic languages: Features, structures, relations, processes

Semitic languages: Features, structures, relations, processes. By Gideon Goldenberg. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. xix, 363. ISBN 9780199644919. $135 (Hb).
Reviewed by Peter Freeouf, Chiang Mai University

This book presents a state-of-the-art overview of the field of Semitic linguistics, both comparative and historical. It is not a book for beginning students but instead requires some familiarity with the languages and the research. It is a comprehensive guide to the research in the field with wide-ranging reference to the corpus of research over the past century.

The work is divided into sixteen units, beginning with an ‘Introduction’ (1–9), setting out the author’s approach, methodology, and transcription, and glossing conventions. The next unit, ‘Languages’ (10–20), gives an overview of the Semitic languages, both ancient and modern. Next is a unit on the ‘Distribution of the Semitic languages’ (21–29) with several detailed maps showing the areas where the languages were or are spoken. ‘Writing systems and scripts’ (30–43) briefly discusses the several writing systems employed for Semitic languages from ancient times to the present.

The next unit,‘Genetic classification’ (44–57), sets out the approaches and problems with the internal classification of this language family, with its long history of intimate contact between the languages involved. Of particular interest here is the author’s discussion of the vexing problem of the position of Arabic in the family. The following section, ‘Special achievements of Semitic linguistic traditions’ (58–63), is a discussion of the medieval traditions of Arabic and Hebrew grammatical analysis. The first six units form the background for the rest of the work (units 7–16), which deals with the phonology, morphology, and syntax of the Semitic languages, with reference to both the older and the modern languages.

Of note in the section on ‘Phonology’ (64–80) is the brief discussion of irregular or ‘sporadic sound changes and lexical diffusion of sound change’ (70) that interfere in the regularity of sound correspondences. Of interest here, too, are the discussions of issues in modern South Arabian phonology (76–77) and in the phonology of Ethiopian languages (77–80). The characteristic features of Semitic nominal, pronominal, and verbal morphology are extensively treated in the next three units (81–139). The remaining sections (140–311) discuss, in considerable detail, syntactic issues and how they relate to the morphological structures of the languages.

Throughout the book there are well-organized and useful comparative paradigmatic tables and extensive glossed example sentences in transcription. The clear glossing conventions are given at the beginning of the work (xvii–xix). There is an extensive bibliography (313–50) followed by detailed index (351–63). A useful feature of the organization in the book is the summary of the topic of each section given at the beginning of each unit.

This is a very comprehensive and user-friendly work, which will be most valuable to scholars versed in Semitic and Afro-Asiatic languages, but it will be also of interest to typologists and historical linguists.

Variation in datives: A microcomparative perspective.

Variation in datives: A microcomparative perspective. Ed. by Beatriz Fernández and Ricardo Etxepare. (Oxford studies in comparative syntax 2.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. xxvi, 320. ISBN 9780199937387. $40. Reviewed by Sara Gómez-Seibane, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha

The book edited by Beatriz Fernández and Ricardo Etxepare compiles a set of research projects regarding the syntactic nature of datives from a micro-comparative perspective. Directed at linguistic variation and especially syntactic micro-variation researchers, this book is made up of an introduction by the editors, ten chapters with their corresponding references, and an alphabetized index of terms and issues, which makes searching the book’s content considerably easier.

Using the principles and parameters model, this book deals with the syntactic variation understood as an intrinsic element belonging to grammar. Within this conception, the crosslinguistic variation responds to a closed set of parameters in accordance with the principles, rules, and mechanisms of Universal Grammar known as macro-parameters or metaparameters. Nevertheless, the difficulty for formulating parameters which cover a wide domain, mostly in many languages for which the available knowledge is incomplete, has motivated many linguists to pay attention to more limited variation zones. This is one of the reasons there has been an increased interest in studying genetically close languages or dialects of the same language or, in other words, microparameter variation. Along these lines, the crosslinguistic and dialectal syntactic microvariation is revealed as a research tool, which allows both marking out which properties are common and which are specific as well as the possibility of refining the enunciation of the macroparameters.

Within this framework, the contributors of this book analyze the syntactic behavior of datives in European languages such as Serbo-Croatian, French, Basque, Icelandic, Feroese, German, Greek, and Spanish. Among other syntactic behavior, the chapters examine selected and not selected datives in French and the connection of this type of clitics with the evaluative mood in a set of Serbo-Croatian dialects. The papers also describe dative and accusative alternations in different types of predicates in Icelandic and the use of la/s as dative (laísmo) closely related to other aspects which affect the ditransitive constructions of Spanish. Regarding case marking and agreement, the extension of dative marking to DPs, which express several types of spatial functions, is analyzed in some varieties of the Basque language. Moreover, different models of syncretism are explained for Basque and German.

The chapters in this book are a highly specialized contribution to generative grammar. For this reason, readers need to possess a high level of knowledge of this theoretical focus in order to adequately follow and value the proposals. The result is, most definitely, a work which deeply delves into the syntactic variation of datives and which presents new directions of research for both some of the least described languages—Basque and Serbo-Croatian—and more analyzed languages such as the Romance or Germanic languages.

Jamieson’s dictionary of Scots

Jamieson’s dictionary of Scots: The story of the first historical dictionary of the Scots language. By Susan Rennie. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. xvi, 282. ISBN 9780199639403. $135 (Hb).
Reviewed by David Elton Gay, Bloomington, IN

This book is a history of the first comprehensive historical dictionary of the Scots language by John Jamieson in 1808. Jamieson’s dictionary was a remarkable work and for several generations afterward was the standard dictionary of both Older and Modern Scots. Its influence can be seen even today in current multivolume dictionaries of Scots that are in progress. Susan Rennie’s book opens with ‘A man of letters’, which looks at Jamieson’s educational, cultural, and social background. Ch. 2, ‘Models and rivals’, then examines the sources for the dictionary, as well as the competing dictionaries of Scots. Ch. 3, ‘The Dictionary takes shape’, then looks at how the dictionary took shape in Jamieson’s mind and work in gathering sources. Ch. 4 examines ‘The pulse of the public: Promotion and publication’. As was common in his time, Jamieson’s dictionary was published by subscription, which meant that he had to do a considerable amount of work promoting his dictionary and finding subscribers before he could get it published.

Ch. 5, ‘Inside the Dictionary’, looks closely at Jamieson’s methods and such features in the dictionary as the historical principles within which he worked, how he handled headwords, how he chose his authorities, and how he dealt with dialect and spoken Scots. Though Jamieson worked to have a broad representation of Scots vocabulary in his dictionary, he was typical of his day in not including words he thought to be vulgar. His tendency to focus on what he thought to be the best of Scots literature also meant that he missed some words in current use in his time. Ch. 6, ‘Revision and collaboration: The Abridgement and Supplement’, looks at the process through which Jamieson revised the dictionary, and also his abridgements, which were some of the most commonly used Scots dictionaries—or dictionaries deriving from his abridgements—until recently. The final chapter, ‘After Jamieson’, looks at how later editors revised Jamieson’s dictionary and also its influence on later Scots lexicography.

Though Jamieson’s dictionary is not well-known outside of Scottish Studies, it was an important nineteenth-century historical dictionary; it was, in fact, the first of the great historical dictionaries of the time. Jamieson’s work deserves to be more widely known to historical linguists, lexicographers, and even the general public. R’s book is an excellent guide to how this dictionary was created, from Jamieson’s first, much more limited concept to the final four-volume, comprehensive record of medieval and modern Scots that the dictionary became.

The art of translation

The art of translation. By Jiří Levý. (Benjamins translation library 97.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. xxviii, 322. ISBN 9789027224453. $143 (Hb).
Reviewed by David Pruett, Austin Community College

Jiří Levý’s influential book was first published in Czech in 1963. It appeared in German, Russian, and Serbo-Croatian translations over the years but, until this edition, never in English. In fact, the editor, Zuzana Jettmarová, spent three years preparing a text for this translation, as previous editions had been revised somewhat by L, mostly to include literary examples more familiar to the readers in their own literary traditions. Writing from the point of view of Prague School structuralism, L’s approach to translation, visible in practice throughout his text, exemplifies a stratification model of poetics wherein the verbal strata—phonic and semantic—are complemented by an extralinguistic layer, i.e. a thematic structure. Jettmarová’s introduction to the English edition gives readers a clearer understanding of L’s position in Czech structuralism, which is discrete from French and Russian versions of that theory.

L uses the concepts style, stylization, and re-stylization rather than the narrower concept of linguistic style since he sees translation as a hybridization of two languages and cultures. In Ch. 1.1, L offers a concise history of translation theory, comparing and contrasting literary and linguistic methodologies. In Ch. 1.2, he proposes three stages of translation: apprehension, interpretation, and re-stylization. Ch. 1.3 discusses the hybridization aspect, focusing on the variables of the translator’s literary creativity as well as cultural and historical situation. Ch. 1.4 turns attention to the poetics of translation styles, and Ch. 1.5 addresses translations of drama, highlighting the importance of speakability, intelligibility, and selective accuracy. Ch. 1.6 deals with the issue of translations in the context of literary criticism.

Part 2 of the book is devoted to issues relating to the translation of verse. Ch. 2.1 compares and contrasts the work of translating prose and verse, noting each genre’s predominant motifs, syntactic formulas and variations, semantic ‘density’, and formal specializations. Ch. 2.2 addresses the situation of translating from non-cognate versification systems, and Ch. 2.3 treats in detail the circumstances of translating from cognate versification systems. Ch. 2.4 contains L’s notes on a comparative morphology of verse rhythm, and Ch. 2.5, on integrating style and thought, includes L’s paean to Karel Čapek’s skill in translating French verse into Czech.

L’s work on translation theory, in this book and many other works, eminently stands the test of time. Very little in this work can be said to be outdated or even superseded by more recent theoretical texts. This edition, translated by Patrick Corness, finally presents one of L’s seminal works in translation theory for English readers, and it is a valuable work for all who have an interest in translation studies and theory.

Grammar of Palestinian Jewish Aramaic

Grammar of Palestinian Jewish Aramaic. By Wm. B. Stevenson. (LINCOM Grammatica 46.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2011. Pp. 98. ISBN 9783862900251. $64.
Reviewed by Peter Freeouf, Chiang Mai University

In the Jewish and Christian traditions, Aramaic is of considerable importance among the Semitic languages in which the canonical texts of the traditions were originally composed. The three major varieties of Jewish and Christian Aramaic are: (i) Biblical Aramaic, the language of small portions of the Hebrew Bible (the books of Ezra and Daniel); (ii) Babylonian Jewish Aramaic, most prominently in the Babylonian Talmud; and (iii) Palestinian Jewish Aramaic (PJA), the language of the Palestinian or Jerusalem version of the Talmud and also of Midrashim and the Targums, Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible, especially that of Onkelos.

Wm. B. Stevenson’s book is an exact reprint of a work that was first published by Oxford University Press in 1924. This short work is a concise summary of the main grammatical features of PJA. In the ‘Preface’ (3–5), S indicates that the audience of his grammar is first and foremost those with a knowledge of Hebrew or another Semitic language and who need an introduction to and overview of the language of the Aramaic portions of the Palestinian Talmud, the Midrashim, the Targums, and the Aramaic of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), the latter of which is very similar to PJA.

The book is divided into thirty-eight sections preceded by the ‘Preface’ setting out the author’s range of coverage, sources, and intended audience; a detailed ‘Table of contents’ (6–7); and a short bibliography, ‘Literature,’ citing only work published up to this edition of 1924. The first section, ‘Introduction’ (9–10), gives an outline of the character of the literary sources of PJA. The next section is ‘Orthography’ (11–15) and discusses in particular issues of vocalization of the extant texts in PJA. Pronominal and nominal morphology is treated in the next sections, three through fifteen (15–44). In the paradigmatic tables, variation in forms are given for the main textual sources of PJA, the Talmud, Midrashim, and the Targums of Onkelos, with some reference to the variants found in the Aramaic of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).

The following sections, sixteen through thirty-eight (44–87), deal with the extensive verbal morphology. There is practically nothing on syntax or even examples that would allow for any extraction of syntactic information. Presumably, students’ use of texts written in this variety of Aramaic would serve this purpose. Finally, at the conclusion of the text there are several pages of verbal paradigms (88–96).

This is not a reference grammar but rather a concise supplementary outline of the major morphological features of this historically important variety of Aramaic. As such, it will be useful to students of the Hebrew Bible and other Aramaic scriptures as well as others interested in older Semitic languages.

Sensuous cognition. Explorations into human sentience: Imagination, (e)motion and perception.

Sensuous cognition. Explorations into human sentience: Imagination, (e)motion and perception. Ed. by Rosario Caballero and Javier E. Díaz-Vera. (Applications of cognitive linguistics 22.) Munich: De Gruyter Mouton, 2013. Pp. viii, 303. ISBN 9783110300765. $140 (Hb).

Reviewed by Zhen-qiang Fan, Zhejiang Gongshang University
In line with the embodiment paradigm in cognitive linguistics, this book focuses on the complex and inseparable relationship between body, mind, and culture. Contributed by scholars from a wide range of disciplines, the papers in this book deal with specific issues related to embodiment, including many unexplored topics.

Apart from an introduction and a postscript, the book is arranged in three parts. The editors’ introductory chapter presents the aim and organization of the book. Part 1 concentrates on the mind and the body. Daniel Casasanto’s study explores how motoric differences between left- and right-handers shape the way they act and represent abstract ideas with positive and negative emotional valence. Roslyn M. Frank examines the linguistic representation of relationships between body and mind in Basque, trying to find out how bilinguals accept the target schema or modify their original indigenous schema. Ning Yu analyzes the Chinese body-part terms for ‘head’ and its parts and their metonymic or metaphoric extensions, showing the complicated interaction between universal experience with the body and cultural construal of the body in language and cognition.

Part 2 focuses on cognition and perception. Rosario Caballero and Carita Paradis tackle the perceptual landscapes of architecture design and wine by scrutinizing wine and architectural reviews, exploring how sensory experiences are conveyed in these genres across cultures. Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano’s paper deals with the relationship between language, embodiment, and culture in perceptual metaphors, including their motivation, entrenchment, and distribution. Rune Nyord’s paper demonstrates how to study conceptualization through visual materials, i.e. ancient Egyptian art. Based on instances of synaesthesia in films, Ernesto Suárez-Toste discusses how the passions aroused by food and wine are communicated to international and multicultural audiences.

Part 3 addresses the issue of imagination and (e)motion. Javier E. Díaz-Vera analyzes a set of Old English expressions for fear and their pictorial manifestations in Anglo-Norman textiles. Şeyda Özçalışkan and Lauren J. Stites explore the similarities and differences of the metaphorical organization of abstract concepts in English and Turkish, as well as how children develop their ability to comprehend these metaphors at an early age. Farzad Sharifian discusses the cultural embedding and conceptualization of ruh ‘spirit/soul’ and jesm ‘body’ in Persian. The author also compares the Sufi conceptualizations of the body and the soul to those of Neoplatonism. Finally, Kashmiri Stec and Eve Sweetser, by examining two pyrotechnic examples of religious architectural blending, illustrate how metaphor, metonymy, and other conceptual blends are ‘built in’ to the architecture and art to structure the experience of people in these spaces.

The book ends with David Howes’ postscript where he summarizes the contributions of the book to conceptual metaphor theory (CMT) and even to the emergent field of sensory studies in general. The emphasis on cultural diversity of embodiment complements CMT, which seeks universals. The contributions in this book also pay more attention to bodily diversity (e.g. the study of handedness). Another strength of the book is that it gives due attention to multimodal and inter-modal aspects of metaphor.

Morphology at the interfaces: Reduplication and noun incorporation in Uto-Aztecan.

Morphology at the interfaces: Reduplication and noun incorporation in Uto-Aztecan. By Jason D. Haugen. (Linguistics today 117.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008. Pp. xv, 257. ISBN 9789027255006. $165.
Reviewed by Alexandra Galani, University of Ioannina

Jason D. Haugen discusses reduplication, noun incorporation, and related derivational morphological phenomena based on comparative data from the Uto-Aztecan language family. The data aim to shed further light on issues related to the morphology-phonology interface (reduplication) and the morphology-syntax interface (noun incorporation). The theoretical claims are made within distributed morphology. H also discusses polysynthesis as a new parameter that contributes toward an analysis of the historical development of the Uto-Aztecan language family.

The book is divided into four parts (nine chapters) in addition to the preface (ix–x), the introduction (xi–xv), the references section (231–49), and the language (251–53) and subject indices (255–57).
Part 1, ‘Background’, consists of two chapters. In Ch. 1 (1–16), H offers information about the Uto-Aztecan language family classification and an overview of certain aspects related to word order, sentence structure, and subject and object clitics in Uto-Aztecan. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion on the origins of the Uto-Aztecan community. In Ch. 2 (17–32), accounts that are related to syntactic variation are presented before moving to a sketch of the principles of distributed morphology, which are adopted in this work in order to explain morphosyntactic reconstruction.

Part 2 (33–86) discusses prosodic morphology and consists of two chapters. In Ch. 3 (33–67), H explores reduplication patterns in comparative Uto-Aztecan data (Yaqui, Mayo, Guarijio, Nahuatl, Numic, Tepecano, and Tohono O’odham). He considers reduplicative morphemes to be prosodic pieces, and in Ch. 4 (69–86), he theoretically accounts for them within distributed morphology.

Part 3, ‘Derivational morphology’, consists of three chapters. In Ch. 5 (87–115), data on denominal verbs and noun incorporation into verb structures from Hopi are presented in order to support the view that noun incorporation and denominal verb formation should not be seen as two different kinds of morphological processes. This view is further supported in Ch. 6 (117–62) with data from Comanche, Cupeno, Hopi, Tohono O’oldam, Yaqui, and Nahuatl. In Ch. 7 (163–204), H theoretically accounts for the empirical data presented in Ch. 6. He takes a syntactic view on word formation where head-movement and merge are the main operations to apply.

Part 4, ‘Change in morphological type’, consists of two chapters. In Ch. 8 (205–27), H discusses the diachronic development of polysynthesis in Nahuatl. The book concludes in Ch. 9 (229–30) with an overview of the main points discussed in each chapter.

This is an interesting book on the interfaces of morphology with syntax and with phonology. The interested reader can easily follow the empirical data as well as the theoretical discussions. It nicely presents relevant literature reviews, and the author manages to connect comparative data with theoretical analyses from a diachronic and a synchronic point of view.

Frames and constructions in metaphoric language

Frames and constructions in metaphoric language. By Karen Sullivan. (Constructional approaches to language 14.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2013. Pp.vii, 184. ISBN 9789027204363. $135 (Hb).
Reviewed by Zhen-qiang Fan, Zhejiang Gongshang University

Since the 1970s, more and more scholars have approached metaphor from a cognitive perspective. While stressing their conceptual nature, these researchers, in one way or another, neglect other aspects of metaphors. In recent years, many researchers investigating metaphor have started to adopt a discourse-based method, emphasizing the essential role of social and conversational context in processing, interpreting, recognizing, and appreciating metaphors. However, so far few have built a model which gives due attention to the workings of metaphoric language. Aiming to fill this gap, Karen Sullivan ‘integrates insights from Construction Grammar with those of Cognitive Grammar, Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Frame semantics, bringing these together into a new account of metaphoric language’ (4).

The book contains ten chapters, including an introduction and conclusion, a list of references, primary sources, and indices. The introduction, ‘Metaphoric language and metaphoric thought’ (1–16), critically evaluates existing studies on metaphoric language. It also presents the objectives and overview of the entire book. In Ch. 2, ‘Frames in metaphor and meaning’ (17–33), S introduces two important notions from cognitive linguistics (CL), frame theory in cognitive semantics and autonomy/dependence in cognitive grammar, adapting them to suit the analysis of metaphoric language. Ch. 3, ‘Frames and lexical choice in metaphor’ (35–48), demonstrates how frames evoked by a lexical item’s non-metaphorical senses can help to determine which items are chosen to express a given conceptual metaphor.

Ch. 4, ‘Frames in metonymic inferencing’ (49–61), illustrates the effectiveness of frames and constructions in distinguishing metaphor from other figurative language such as metonymy. It is argued that metonymic inferencing requires specific constructional contexts that allow for ambiguity while the constructions involved in metaphor are adopted in ways that avoid ambiguity and ensure a metaphoric interpretation.

The remaining chapters of the book (Chs. 5–9) offer a more detailed illustration of the new model proposed by analyzing a series of grammatical constructions. Ch. 5, ‘Two types of adjective construction in metaphor’(63–86), focuses on domain constructions and predicating modifier constructions, while Ch. 6, ‘Argument structure constructions in metaphor’(87–114), concentrates on argument structure constructions, such as resultatives, ditransitives, and uses of the copula. Ch. 7 scrutinizes ‘Metaphoric preposition phrases and closed-class items’ (115–30), and Ch. 8, ‘Repeated domain evocation and xyz constructions’ (131–48), investigates constructions which combine two or more of those from Chs. 5–7. Finally, Ch. 9, ‘Metaphoric constructions beyond the clause’(149–66), further examines some larger metaphor-evoking structures, including relative clauses and conditional constructions, as well as other complex structures such as parallelism and negation of the literal. Ch. 10, ‘Conclusion’ (167–72), presents the significance and limitations of the research.

This book shows the cross-fertilization among several existent theories within CL by creating a unified and coherent model that is capable of explaining both metaphoric and non-metaphoric language. The book should be of interest to anyone interested in CL and metaphor in particular. Future studies could consider extending the model to cover more metaphor-evoking constructions and analyze linguistic data from languages other than English.

Lexical analysis: Norms and exploitations

Lexical analysis: Norms and exploitations. By Patrick Hanks. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013. Pp. xv, 462. ISBN 9780262018579. $60 (Hb).
Reviewed by Zhen-qiang Fan, Zhejiang Gongshang University

Based on authentic word usage from large corpora and other texts, Patrick Hanks proposes a lexically based, corpus-driven, bottom-up theory of language called the theory of norms and exploitations (TNE), which is expected to help explain how words go together in collocation patterns and how people use words to convey meaning.

Ch.1 points out the need for a theory of norms and exploitations for the empirical analysis of meaning in language and presents the aims of the book. Ch. 2 takes a closer look at the various meanings of the term ‘word’. This chapter also explains the dynamic and infinite nature of the lexicon of a language and how new terms are constantly being created. Ch. 3 argues that words in isolation, instead of having meaning, only have meaning potential. Actual meanings only appear when people use words in specific context, whether verbal or situational.

Ch. 4 illustrates how Paul Grice’s conversational cooperation theory can help distinguish meaning-as-events and meaning potential. He distinguishes between ‘norms’ and ‘exploitations’: the former refers to patterns of ordinary usage in everyday language while the latter denotes the unusual and creative uses. Ch. 5 demonstrates the effectiveness of identifying normal complementation patterns by corpus analysis in terms of valency and lexical sets for determining a word’s meaning.

Ch. 6 addresses the issue of norms of usage change over time on the basis of large historical corpora. H emphasizes that when appreciating literary works from different periods, it is important to bear in mind the different norms of the time. Ch.7 discusses the alternation of three regular patterns of usage in language: lexical alternations, semantic-type alternations, and syntactic alternations.

Ch. 8 is concerned with exploitation, which is a dynamic mechanism used to create new meanings and to say old things in new ways. Moreover, exploitation is also one mechanism for bringing new senses to a word. Various types of exploitations are also introduced in this chapter. In Ch. 9, H analyzes a few examples of how creative writers have exploited lexical and other norms of the English language and created new ones.

Ch. 10 elaborates on how the normal, conventional patterns of meaning and use of a word constitute a complex meaning gestalt, and how such gestalt is exploited in various ways. Ch. 11 explains how TNE is related to the philosophy of language and anthropology, citing the works of
language philosophers like Aristotle, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hilary Putnam, and Paul Grice, and the ideas of anthropologists such as Bronisław Malinowski, Elenore Rosch, and Michael Tomasello. Ch. 12 discusses how TNE differs from other theories of language concerning the role of the lexicon, and finally, Ch. 13 summarizes the key notions of TNE, pointing out its theoretical significance and practical applications.

The book is of great interest for those who want to engage in empirical research in language-related areas such as cognitive linguistics, historical linguistics, computational linguistics, corpus linguistics, machine translation, and applied linguistics. It also has practical value for lexicographers, language teachers, and those involved in textbook compilation.