Voice and grammatical relations

Voice and grammatical relations: In honor of Masayoshi Shibatani. Ed. by Tasaku Tsunoda and Taro Kageyama. (Typological studies in language 65.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2006. Pp. xviii, 342. ISBN 9027229767. $188 (Hb).

Reviewed by Heiko Narrog, Tohoku University

Masayoshi Shibatani is probably the best-known Japanese linguist internationally. He built his reputation in the 1970s mainly with research related to grammatical voice and has continued his investigations in this field. It is thus entirely fitting that a Festschrift dedicated to him should bear the title Voice and grammatical relations. It is also fitting that many of the contributions deal with South, East, and Southeast Asian languages, since these are the language areas on which his typological research has concentrated. The list of contributors contains many familiar names from the fields of functional and typological research.

Kenneth William Cook describes a particle in Hawaiian that can denote both passive and imperative (1–14). Talmy Givón and Boniface Kawasha deal with the Lunda passive, which superficially appears to be a purely promotional passive, but where a deeper analysis reveals subject properties in the nonagent topic (15–41). Peter E. Hook and Omkar N. Koul discuss valency sets in Kashmiri, where morphological causatives behave in similar ways to phrasal causatives in other languages (43–84). In ‘Property description as a voice phenomenon’ (85–114), Taro Kageyama investigates the relation between valence change (voice) and stativization, drawing mainly on data from Japanese and English. Based on his framework of cognitive grammar, Ronald W. Langacker analyzes the parameters along which voice constructions vary and how they relate to one another (115–37).

Randy J. LaPolla focuses on grammatical relations as constraints on referent identification and advances the argument that there is no category of subject across languages (139–51). Christian Lehmann reviews a number of subfields of participation, and shows how languages vary in their choice of which participant roles are coded and privileged in contrast to others (153–74). Elena Maslova investigates case-marking splits conditioned by focus structure in Yukaghir and Dogon (175–94). Marianne Mithun demonstrates how in Mohawk there are a number of robust voice constructions, but no category of ‘subject’ or a grammatically most prominent constituent at all. The notion of voice and grammatical relations such as subject and object is therefore claimed to be nonessential to an understanding of voice (195–216).

Vladimir P. Nedjalkov describes reciprocals in Chukchi, which exhibits the rare phenomenon of having two monosemous productive reciprocal markers, and compares them with Koryak and Itelmen reciprocals (217–46). Frans Plank shows how in German, comitative constructions with intransitive symmetric predicates can be extended to transitive verbs, thereby replacing reflexive or reflexive-reciprocal pronouns (247–70). Vera I. Podlesskaya examines the grammaticalization of ‘give’ verbs in Russian, particularly in hortative and permissive constructions (271–98). The last article of the collection, by Tasaku Tsunoda, deals with reflexive and middle constructions in Warrungu (299–333), relating them to Suzanne Kemmer’s crosslinguistic study of middle constructions and John Haiman’s principle of economic motivation.  Language, name, and subject indices round out the volume.

All articles feature original research and pose some theoretical questions beyond the immediate descriptive concern. The number of typos varies notably by author and article, suggesting a low degree of interference by the editors with the manuscripts. It is said that publishers have become increasingly wary of producing Festschrift-like publications. This one should reward both the publisher and the reader with an interest in the topics covered here.

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