LINGUIST List 14.755

Sun Mar 16 2003

Review: Linguistic Theories: Satterfield, et al. (2002)

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  1. Eric Russell Webb, Current Issues in Romance Languages

Message 1: Current Issues in Romance Languages

Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2003 00:25:22 +0000
From: Eric Russell Webb <eric.russellwebbwmich.edu>
Subject: Current Issues in Romance Languages

Satterfield, Teresa, Christina Tortora, and Diana Cresti (2002)
Current Issues in Romance Languages. John Benjamins Publishing
Company, xiii+375pp, hardback ISBN 1-58811-089-3, $95.00, Amsterdam
Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science 220.

Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/13/13-2619.html


Eric RUSSELL WEBB, Assistant Professor, Western Michigan University

DESCRIPTION

This book contains twenty-four edited papers originally presented at
the 29th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL), held in Ann
Arbor from 8 to 11 April 1999. The LSRL is a yearly conference
covering all aspects of Romance, whose principle audience is linguists
and students of linguistics in the Americas and Europe.� The present
edition consists of works on the major Romance languages (Spanish,
French, Italian, Portuguese), as well as less frequently covered
languages (e.g. Romanian and Catalan), Neo-Romance (e.g. Haitian
Creole, Afro-Iberian), regional dialects (e.g. Picard,
Emilia-Romagnan) and papers of a comparative nature. The edition
includes works from nearly all major sub-fields of linguistics,
including morphology, syntax, phonology, semantics and pragmatics, the
notable exception being sociolinguistics, which is not represented.

As the publication is not divided into sections according to either
subject language or languages or linguistic subfield, the present
review describes these in the order in which they appear in the
book.

Nancy Mae Antrim's paper, ''On becoming a clitic: the pronominal
possessive in Romance'' (pp. 1-15) traces the evolution of possessive
pronouns from Vulgar Latin to Modern French, Spanish and Italian.
She notes that three factors, determiner development, reduction in
unstressed forms, and the acquisition of definiteness influenced the
outcome of possessives in the three languages, describing the
diachronic patterns of Spanish and Italian as being similar and that
of French as being relatively distinct.

Zsuzsanna Barkanyi's paper, ''Primary stress in Spanish'' (pp. 17-31)
considers the psychological reality behind rules regarding primary
stress in Spanish, focusing on nominals. The paper presents the
results of a nonce-word test and underscores the importance of
syllable weight in Spanish stress assignment. Barkanyi asserts that
the stress pattern results from the interaction of phonology,
morphology and the lexicon, where the first of these has a filtering
role.

Claudia Brovetto's paper, ''Spanish clauses without complementizer''
(pp. 33-46) consists of an analysis of compliment clauses lacking
''que'' (that). She describes data relative to the non-realization
of the complementizer in certain cases involving irrealis clausal
complements embedded under a given class of verbs and proposes that
Complementizer Phrase (CP) projection is absent when the overt
''que''is unrealized.

Viviane Deprez's paper, ''On the nature of bare nouns in Haitian
Creole'' (pp. 47-64) examines the syntax and semantics of bare nouns
(e.g. undetermined nouns) in Haitian Neo-Romance, a French-lexified
Creole. She first provides an overview of the Nominal Mapping
Parameter and then applies this theory to data from Haitian,
specifically looking for evidence of a null determiner. She then
proposes a semantic parameter linking the null determiner to the
realization of plural morphology.

Ricardo Etxepare and Kleanthes Grohmann's paper, ''Towards a syntax of
adult root infinitives'' (pp. 65-79) contrasts infinitival
constructions in Germanic and Romance, using as examples English and
Spanish, respectively. They demonstrate that Root Infinitives (RI)
lack an overt complementizer phrase layer and a specifier for tense,
focusing specifically on the raising or lack of raising of RI in each
language.

Timothy Face''s paper, ''Re-examining Spanish: Resyllabification
(pp. 81-94) analyses this phenomenon from an Optimality Theoretic (OT)
perspective, in contrast to previous, serial or rule-based
approaches. Face's examination counters the traditional notion of
resyllabification, asserting that prefixes in Spanish must be treated
differently than other affixes, specifically that these are separate
phonological domains.

Grant Goodall's paper, ''On preverbal subjects in Spanish''
(pp. 95-109) considers the appearance of a subject to be limited
within the Spanish clause structure. Goodall presents evidence that
preverbal subjects in Spanish are not in a topic position, nor are
they in a focus (''wh'' or question) position. He demonstrates that
the external, complementizer phrase-level appearance of a subject will
obtain only if there is a special interpretation requiring this.

Javier Guttierrez-Rexach's paper, ''The semantics of Spanish free
relative'' (pp. 111-127) looks at the semantic structure of these
constructions and at the ambiguity of their interpretation. In the
first sections, he describes the morphological encoding of
quantification force and indefinite free relatives (FR), as well as
the differences between definite and indefinite FR. A final section
discusses the semantic interpretations of these constructions, noting
that the definiteness of FR depends in large part on the morphology of
elements incorporated into the modal verb. 

David Heap's paper, ''Split subject pronoun paradigms: feature
geometry and underspecification'' (pp. 129-144) considers the
description and explanation of asymmetrical subject pronoun
distribution, focusing on non-standard Gallo- and Italo-Romance
dialects. He adopts a hierarchical feature geometry in which the
second and third person singular, along with the third person plural,
are distinguished from others. This is incorporated into an
under-specified feature geometry, specifically referring to
participants and to the morphological information conveyed
thereabout.

Paula Kempchinsky's paper, ''Locative inversion, PP Topicalization and
the EPP'' (pp. 145-158) considers the preposing of locatives and
prepositional phrases (PP) in Spanish, contrasted to data in
English. She proposes that Spanish PP fronting is the result of
topicalization, rather than a movement to subject position, and shows
that this phenomenon corresponds to different syntactic structures.

Anthony Lewis' paper, ''Contrast maintenance and intervocalic stop
lenition in Spanish and Portuguese: When is it alright to lenite?''
(pp. 159-171) presents an analysis of voicing in VCV sequences,
looking specifically at lenition or contrast neutralization. The
work consists of a brief overview of data and the presentation of an
articulation experiment involving speakers of Brazilian Portuguese.
Lewis concludes that Spanish relies more upon closure duration as the
cue to convey consonant identity is such sequences, whereas Portuguese
relies more upon phonetic voicing.

John M. Lipski's paper, ''Epenthesis vs. elision in Afro-Iberian
Language: a constraint-based approach to creole phonology''
(pp. 173-188) analyses the phonological processes of epenthesis and
elision from an OT perspective, focusing on Portuguese- and
Spanish-lexified Creoles. Looking at how African languages treated
Ibero-Romance phonology, he proposes a series of markedness
constraints to account for observable, cross-linguistic patterns, such
as coda elision and onset reduction.

Monica Malamud's paper, ''Contrastive discourse markers in Spanish:
beyond contrast'' (pp. 189-205) presents an analysis of the
contrastive relationship of discourse markers, looking specifically at
the functional or use-based differences among these. In a first
stage, she distinguishes between different types of contrast, next
considering the contexts in which each may occur. �

Richard Morris' paper, ''Coda obstruents and local constraint
conjuction in North-Central Peninsular Spanish'' (pp. 207-223)
presents an analysis of coda spirantization in one dialect of Iberian
Spanish, using the principle of local constraint conjunction in an OT
analysis. After presenting relevant data and describing this using
feature geometric representations, Morris introduces a series of
conjoined markedness constraints concerning manner (continuance) and
voice to account for the particularities of the dialect in question.

Alan Munn and Cristina Schmitt's paper, ''Bare nouns and the
morphosyntax of number'' (pp. 225-239) provides a contrastive
examination of bare nouns in Romance and English, looking specifically
to Brazilian Portuguese, French and Spanish in the case of the
former. They attribute the distributional differences between
English and Romance with regard to bare Noun Phrases to the Free
Agreement parameter. In Brazilian Portuguese, which permits bare
singular arguments, distinction is accounted for by the combination of
Free Agreement and empty determiners.

Josep Quer's paper, ''Non-logical 'IF' '' (pp. 241-254) examines
non-logical if-clauses and questions how two distinct syntactic
structures may project onto parallel logical representations. Data
in his paper is drawn from Spanish and Catalan. He shows how the
output of adjunct vs. argument status is determined by the interaction
grammatical components. Quer reaches five partial conclusions
relative to the status and structure of these clauses, specifically
looking to their semantic and lexical natures. 

Joan Rafel's paper, ''Selecting atomic cells from temporal domains:
fixing parameters in Romance'' (pp. 255-269) examines at three types
of constructions expressing events in progress, Prepositional
Infinitivals, Pseudo-relatives and Gerundives, using examples from
European and Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Catalan and Spanish.
With regard to the first two constructions, she asserts that these are
analytic options, whereas the Gerundive Construction should be
analyzed as a synthetic version of a nominal construction.

Lori Repetti' s paper, ''Non-homorganic nasal clusters in Northern
Italian dialects'' (pp. 271-285) presents an innovative analysis of
non-homorganic nasal cluster data from dialects of Emilia-Romagna from
an OT perspective. Her analysis depends on correspondence markedness
and faithfulness constraints, specifically Dependence and Identity;
differential ranking of these constraints accounts for variant nasal
cluster grammars in the dialects in question.

Edward Rubin' s paper, ''Romanian nominal structure, proforms and
genitive case checking'' (pp. 287-300) examines the alternative
realizations of genitive case-marked nominals in this language. In a
first section, he presents data relevant to the question at hand, as
well as a description of the structure of Romanian genitive articles
and determiner phrases. He subsequently argues that the genitive
article is a definite phrase including a pronominal noun and an
enclitic definite article.

Petra Sleeman' s article, ''Adjectival agreement within DP without
feature movement'' (pp. 301-316) analyses adjective agreement within
determiner phrases (DP), specifically focusing on French. She proposes
that case agreement is the overt manifestation of theta-identification
relation between noun and adjective. She further implies that
interpretable features can be eliminated by either pied-piping or
coindexation.

Jeffrey Steele and Julie Auger' s paper, ''A constraint-based analysis
of intraspeaker variation: vocalic epenthesis in Vimeu Picard''
(pp. 317-335) employs an optimality theoretic model in the description
and explanation of epenthesis as a consequence of two competing
forces, edge-licensing or markedness by position and epenthesis. They
assert that variation is a function of constraint competition,
specifically looking to faithfulness (violated by epenthesis) and
markedness (motivated by indirect licensing by position).

Esther Torrego' s paper, ''Aspect in the prepositional system of
Romance'' (pp. 337-357) argues that the locus of cross-linguistic
variation with regard to ''have'' and ''be'' domains derives from the
head combining with the copula ''be'' using data from Catalan,
Portuguese, Spanish (modern and old) and French. She argues that the
absence of a possessive ''have'' and the lack of ''be'' verses
''have'' alternations, accusative clitic doubling and accusative
objects preceded by dative prepositions are different manifestations
of a singular aspectual parameter.

Dieter Vermandere' s paper, ''A unified analysis of French and Italian
'en/ne' '' (pp. 359-373) re-examines the status of these pronouns,
termed ''en-clitics.'' Vermandere proposes that the en-clitic is
underspecified for categorical features and may be interpretable at
the level of logical form by virtue of a clitic doubling ''Pro.'' He
asserts that the latter element is the locus of cross linguistic
variation, rather than the clitic itself, as has been postulated by
previous analyses.

Caroline Wiltshire' s paper, ''Variation in Spanish aspiration and
prosodic boundary constraints'' (pp. 375-389) proposes an analysis of
different patterns of aspiration in Spanish dialects based on surface
prosodic structure. She describes how alignment and classical
markedness constraints can provide for particular structures at the
edge of syllables, looking specifically at [s].  She further provides
for differential constraint ranking as a means to express variation in
Iberian and American dialects.


CRITICAL EVALUATION

The nature of this publication, a collection of works on different
languages and treated within distinct linguistic sub-disciplines,
renders any systematic evaluation difficult, if not superfluous. The
reviewer has therefore restrained himself to general comments,
applicable to the publication as a whole, and to commentary regarding
the interest, merits and defects of the edition.

The papers contained in the edition are of high quality and, without
exception, well-written and edited. Many of the works present
innovative theories or application thereof to Romance data; the
publication, considered in its entirety, clearly contributes to the
body of literature pertinent to the description, explanation and
evaluation of linguistic data in these languages. Papers focusing on
less-widely-studied Romance languages, such as those of Deprez, Lipski
and Rubin (to cite only a few), are especially welcome; those treating
other languages represent analytical work that is new and applicable
to the fields of Romance and general linguistics.

Slight criticism may be made with regard to the lack of thematic
grouping ''papers appear alphabetically, according to the name of
author(s)'' without regard to linguistic sub-discipline or focus
language. Also, in many of the articles, the use of acronyms is made
without explicit reference; for readers unfamiliar with semantic
theory, for instance, Josep Quer' s excellent paper on atomic cells
and temporal domains may read with a good deal of difficulty. A
final comment might be made with regard to the delay with which these
papers have appeared, a period of nearly four years between the date
of the conference (spring of 1999) and that of publication (2002). 
This should not, however, be taken as a criticism of either the
editors or respective authors, as many factors beyond the control of
these individuals contribute to publication delays.

It is impossible and perhaps undesirable to fully critique the works
contained within this volume in such a brief review. Even such a
cursory review demonstrates that the variety of subjects, data and
analyses comprising this edition are clearly invaluable to the
linguistic community as a whole, and most certainly to those linguists
interested in the Romance languages.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Eric Russell Webb is Assistant Professor of Language and Linguistics
at Western Michigan University, a level one research institution in
Kalamazoo, Michigan. Dr. Russell Webb received his Ph.D. in
Comparative Linguistics with concentration in phonology and phonetics
from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002. His research interests
include theoretical phonology, specifically cross-dialectal
phonological processes, the role of phonetics in phonology and the
naturalness of sympathy and opacity in phonetically grounded
phonological grammars. He works primarily in Germanic (German, Dutch,
Dutch-lexified Creoles) and Romance (French, Italian, French-lexified
Creoles).
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