Reviewed by Louisa Buckingham, Sabanci University Writing Center, Turkey
This is the second edition of a university textbook for advanced students of Spanish in the US originally published in 2001. Changes include two new chapters, an extensive revision of other sections, and the incorporation of new exercises. It comprises eight chapters that range from a general introduction to linguistics as a cognitive science to dialectal aspects of Spanish. It does not assume prior knowledge of linguistics. Only two sections, the first introductory chapter and the section on pragmatics, are not specifically related to Spanish; otherwise, all chapters provide insights into varieties of Spanish, as well as such contact languages as Catalan, Basque, and Amerindian languages. In most chapters, examples of contemporary language use are provided that contrast different dialect forms (or different languages).
Each chapter begins with a statement of objectives and ends with a series of exercises (often recommending the use of the internet), a summary, and a brief bibliography. Short comprehension exercises also appear in the course of each chapter. A glossary, a bibliography for each chapter, and an index are provided at the end.
Ch.2, on phonetics and phonology (45–122), introduces the International Phonetic Alphabet with a focus on Spanish phonemes, allophones, and suprasegmentals (e.g. word stress and intonation). Variations in pronunciation are discussed with examples from a wide range of dialects, and reference is also made to current changes in pronunciation as evidenced by the speech of the youth in particular regions. The third chapter, on morphology (123–200), has a rich discussion of word derivation and compound word formation, in addition to the general overview of Spanish conjugation and gender systems. The fourth chapter, on syntax (201–78), covers simple and complex sentences in Spanish with occasional contrasts with aspects of English and Basque syntax.
The following chapter on the history of Spanish (279–339) focuses primarily on the evolution of Spanish from Latin, but includes a mention of pre-Roman languages, such as Iberian Celtic and Basque. Consideration is given to phonological, morphological, and semantic changes. After a brief discussion of the standardization of Spanish, culminating in the establishment of the Real Academía Española in the eighteenth century, and an overview of the lexical contributions from Arab and Amerindian languages, the chapter closes with a discussion of the main dialectal features of Peninsular and Latin American Spanish and a brief look at Judeo-Spanish and the Aragonese dialect.
After a general chapter on semantics and pragmatics (340–90), the penultimate chapter on variation in Spanish (391–444) covers phonological and morphosyntactic features of the more well known sociolects and diatopic variants of Spanish, and some less well documented variants such as Judeo or African Spanish. The final chapter, Ch. 8 (445–503), provides a detailed overview of phonological, morphosyntactic, and sociolinguistic features of Spanish spoken in the US. Of particular interest is the description of different Spanish dialects in contact.
This is an outstanding, professionally produced publication that students will find absorbing and motivating. A comprehensive work of this type offering such balanced and up-to-date coverage of the Spanish-speaking world is a rare find.