Yearbook of morphology 2004

Yearbook of morphology 2004. Ed. by Geert Booij and Jaap van Marle. Dordrecht: Springer, 2005. Pp. 323. ISBN 1402028997. $179 (Hb).

Reviewed by Marcin Kilarski, Adam Mickiewicz University

This volume consists of nine articles, including six papers from the 4th Mediterranean Morphology Meeting in Catania, 2003. Stephen R. Anderson, in the opening paper ‘Morphological universals and diachrony’, considers the value of typological regularities in the study of the language faculty; on the basis of three examples, Anderson shows that such regularities may not be due to cognitive limitations but to the pathways of historical morphology. In ‘Morphological universals and the sign language type’, Mark Aronoff, Irit Meir, Carol Padden, and Wendy Sandler demonstrate the paucity of morphology in new languages on the basis of Abu-Shara Bedouin Sign Language—a unique sign language from Israel that has developed de novo in a stable community without any external influence. In ‘Typology and the formal modelling of syncretism’ Matthew Baerman evaluates proposed constraints on syncretism against a corpus of over a hundred languages; the data for subject person marking on verbs do not appear to be fully compatible with earlier predictions, the results being described as ‘not encouraging’ (60).

Berthold Crysmann, in ‘An inflectional approach to Hausa final vowel shortening’, presents evidence against a phonology-based view of phonological alternations in Hausa, suggesting instead that they are an exponent of an inflectional category—the marking of the mode of argument realization. Paul Kiparsky, in ‘Blocking and periphrasis in inflectional paradigms’, considers paradigms that combine synthetic and periphrastic forms, and argues that a lexicalist treatment is superior to approaches in terms of distributed morphology and paradigm function morphology. In the last conference paper in the volume, ‘Morphological autonomy and diachrony’, Martin Maiden focuses on diachronic changes in the Romance verb, claiming that autonomous morphological structure is present within both the paradigmatic and the syntagmatic dimensions, that is, in inflectional paradigms and in the concatenation of morphemes, and should not be regarded as ‘a stagnant backwater of linguistic structure’ (169).

Ana Luís and Andrew Spencer, in ‘A paradigm function account of “mesoclisis” in European Portuguese’, offer an analysis of the pronominal clitic system in European Portuguese. The clitic clusters, which exhibit both morphological and syntactic properties despite being identical, are treated as morphological elements with three types of placement: the default suffixed placement (to the verb in enclitics or the stem in mesoclisis), with alternate proclitic placement as phrasal affixes. Gereon Müller, in ‘Syncretism and iconicity in Icelandic noun declensions: A distributed morphology approach’, provides an account of Icelandic noun declensions. With the widespread syncretism and the constant reuse of a small number of inflectional markers, the prevalent properties of economy and optimal design are said to be manifested in the interaction of inflection markers, rather than inflection markers themselves. Finally, in ‘A constraint on interclass syncretism’, Rolf Noyer focuses on stems belonging to more than one inflectional class in Old Russian and the dialects of Greek. The proposed constraint is tested against three types of mechanisms in mixed inflection: phonologically conditioned allomorphy, default spell-out, and impoverishment. The volume concludes with a discussion note by Jonathan David Bobaljik, ‘Itelmen plural diminutives: A belated reply to Perlmutter 1988’, and two book notices by Geert Booij.

In conclusion, the papers in this volume have important implications for the study not only of morphology but also of typology and universals and historical linguistics. On the formal side, there are a few distractions, for example, the lack of standardization in references (e.g. in first names), missing or inconsistent references (e.g. Aronoff et al., Baerman, Kiparsky, Noyer), spelling (e.g. Aronoff et al., Kiparsky, Müller, Noyer), numbering of footnotes (Baerman), and informal citations (Kiparsky).