Morphology and language history: In honour of Harold Koch. Ed. by Claire Bowern, Bethwyn Evans, and Luisa Miceli. (Current issues in linguistic theory 298.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008. Pp. x, 364. ISBN 9789027248145. $173 (Hb).
Reviewed by Alexandra Galani, University of Ioannina
Claire Bowern, Bethwyn Evans, and Luisa Miceli put together a collection of twenty-five papers which discuss the various methods used when studying historical morphology. Part 1(‘Genetic relatedness’) opens with Barry Alpher, Geoffrey O’Grady, and Claire Bowern, who bring evidence for the development of Western Torres Strait, whereas Peter Austin investigates the classification of Pinikura. Mark Donohue shows that bound pronominals can also be used as a classification criterion in West Papuan languages, and Margaret Sharpe explains that unsolved morphophonological phenomena prevent researchers from fully supporting the relatedness of Alawa, Mara, and Warndarang. Jane Simpson reconstructs pronominals in Warumungu and compares them to the corresponding forms in neighboring languages as evidence towards the language’s genetic position.
In Part 2 (‘Reconstruction’), Avery Andrews shows how one may use historical morphology to support synchronic morphological theories based on Greek data, whereas Jay H. Jasanoff discusses the reconstruction of the Ancient Greek verb σβέννυμι. Paul Black investigates the pronominal system in Pama-Nyungan languages, and William B. McGregor in his chapter, ‘The origin of noun classes in Worrorran languages’, supports language family classification. John Giacon examines verb specification morphemes in Gamilaraay not only to shed light on its historical development but also for the purposes of language revival. Mark Harvey looks into the origin of conjugational markers in Australian languages, while Luise Hercus and Stephen Morey offer a historical investigation of negatives in Southeastern Australian languages. H. Craig Melchert offers a semantic reconstruction of the adverb duwān in Hittite, and David Nash reconstructs monomorphemic verb roots in Warlpiri, whereas Phil Rose looks at tones in Oujiang Wu through modern acoustics. Grace Koch and Myfany Turpin investigate the language used in Central Australian Aboriginal songs and conclude that it shows a non-archaic behavior. Luisa Miceli compares two methods of reconstruction (inspectional versus comparative method) using data from Australian languages, and, finally, Paul Sidwell uses a bottom-up method of reconstruction to examine verbal morphology in Mon-Khmer.
In Part 3 (‘Processes of change’), Cathryn Donohue reaches generalizations about the morphological realization of case marking of four-place predicates in Old and New Basque, while Bethwyn Evans treats the development of plural in object marking in Marovo as a morphological zero affected by discourse patterns. Anthony J. Liddicoat and Timothy Jowan Curnow investigate the morphological development of the perfect in Jersey Norman French, and Patrick McConvell deals with the reconstruction of kinship affixation patterns in Pama-Nyungan languages. Kim Schulte investigates reconstruction of the plural morphology in Romanian, and following that, John Charles Smith discusses the refunctionalization of first-person plural inflection in Tiwi. Finally, Xiaonong Zhu examines the historical change of chain vowel raising in Chinese.
The book is well organized and coherent. It presents various techniques employed by researchers working on historical morphology. Its strongest advantage is that a wide range of crosslinguistic morphological phenomena, analyses, and theoretical questions are all addressed in a single book.