LINGUIST List 12.407

Thu Feb 15 2001

Books: Language Change, Typology

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <naomilinguistlist.org>


Links to the websites of all LINGUIST's supporting publishers are available at the end of this issue.

Directory

  1. Kimberly Kahn, Language Change: Change, Chance, and Optimality by A. McMahon
  2. Kimberly Kahn, Typology: Indefinite Pronouns by M. Haspelmath

Message 1: Language Change: Change, Chance, and Optimality by A. McMahon

Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 12:23:58 -0500
From: Kimberly Kahn <KRKOUP-USA.ORG>
Subject: Language Change: Change, Chance, and Optimality by A. McMahon


CHANGE, CHANCE, AND OPTIMALITY
April McMahon, University of Sheffield

This book is about how languages change. It is also a devastating
critique of a widespread linguistic orthodoxy. April McMahon argues
that to provide a convincing explanation of linguistic change the
roles of history and contingency must be accommodated in linguistic
theory. She also shows that theoretical work in related disciplines
can be used to assess the value of such theories.
 
Optimality Theory, or OT as it is usually called, dominates
contemporary phonology, especially in the USA, and is becoming
increasingly influential in syntax and language acquisition. Having
set out its basis principles, Professor McMahon assesses their
explanatory power in analysing language change and its residues in
current phonological systems. Using cross-linguistic data, and drawing
comparisons with other theories inside and outside linguistics, she
shows that OT is incapable of accounting for language change, without
the addition of rules and an appreciation of chance and historical
contingency that would then undermine its theoretical underpinnings.

"A stunning book, elegantly argued and deftly written. A major
 theoretical critique, confronting Optimality Theory and other
 formalist innatist paradigms with the realities of evolutionary
 biology and neuroscience. One of the most important and sophisticated
 works in phonological theory of the past couple of decades."--Roger
 Lass, University of Cape Town

"This book is a careful study of some of the fundamental issues
 underpinning current linguistics, especially Optimality Theory, and it
 is a very welcome and timely contribution to debate in that area."--
 Andrew Spencer, University of Essex

November 2000 216 pp.; 1 line illus
0-19-824124-0 cloth $60.00
0-19-824125-9 paper $19.95
Oxford University Press
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kimberly Kahn
Oxford University Press, 198 Madison Avenue, New
York, NY 10016
Phone: (212) 726-6086 Fax: (212) 726-6442 E-mail: krkoup-usa.org
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Typology: Indefinite Pronouns by M. Haspelmath

Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 12:28:59 -0500
From: Kimberly Kahn <KRKOUP-USA.ORG>
Subject: Typology: Indefinite Pronouns by M. Haspelmath


INDEFINITE PRONOUNS
Martin Haspelmath, Max Planc Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany

(Oxford Studies in Typology and Linguistic Theory)

This book is the first comprehensive and encyclopaedic investigation
of indefinite pronouns (expressions like someone, anything, nowhere)
in the languages of the world. It shows that the range of variation in
the functional and formal properties of indefinite pronouns is subject
to a set of universal implicational constraints, and proposes
explanations for these universals.

[series copy] Oxford Studies in Typology and Linguistic Theory offers
a forum for promoting research and analysis that is both typologically
and theoretically informed. Each book in the series will focus on a
particular topic, providing an overview of the available
cross-linguistic data and, at the same time, engaging such key
theoretical issues as the boundaries or limitations of different
approaches in dealing with typological data.

"...the book is clearly written and well edited, and the facts
 provided offer a great deal of food for thought to anyone with an
 interest in cross-linguistic work, whether such interest is confined
 within the Germanic family alone or is taken with a broader
 view."--American Journal of Germanic Linguistics and Literatures

"A welcome addition to the typological literature, this book is the
 most comprehensive work to date devoted exclusively to the description
 of indefinite pronouns in the world's languages....Haspelmath's
 presentation offers generally interesting reading, giving us many
 facts, testable universal claims, and tantalizing attempts at
 explanation....the book can serve...as a useful reference
 work."--Anthropological Linguistics

"One couldn't wish for a better book to inaugurate the series....The
 book is highly recommended, not only to field workers who will find
 that this study contains enough theoretical predictions to test
 against the indefinite pronoun system in the language or languages
 they are working on, but also to any linguist who wants to see a text
 book example of a linguistic analysis....Anyone working on two or more
 closely related languages should be required to read this
 book."--Notes on Linguistics


1997 (paper November 2000) 384 pp.; 25 b/w
figures, 1 map
0-19-829963-X paper $24.95
0-19-823560-7 cloth $72.00
Oxford University Press
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kimberly Kahn
Oxford University Press, 198 Madison Avenue, New
York, NY 10016
Phone: (212) 726-6086 Fax: (212) 726-6442 E-mail: krkoup-usa.org
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue
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Tuesday, February 06, 2001