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LINGUIST List 16.3499

Thu Dec 08 2005

Review: General Ling: Laury et al. (2003)

Editor for this issue: Lindsay Butler <lindsaylinguistlist.org>


What follows is a review or discussion note contributed to our Book Discussion Forum. We expect discussions to be informal and interactive; and the author of the book discussed is cordially invited to join in. If you are interested in leading a book discussion, look for books announced on LINGUIST as "available for review." Then contact Sheila Dooley at dooleylinguistlist.org.
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        1.    Pramod Pandey, Perspectives in Linguistics: Papers in Honor of P. J. Mistry


Message 1: Perspectives in Linguistics: Papers in Honor of P. J. Mistry
Date: 06-Dec-2005
From: Pramod Pandey <pkspandeyyahoo.com>
Subject: Perspectives in Linguistics: Papers in Honor of P. J. Mistry


EDITORS: Laury, Ritva; McMenamin, Gerald R.; Okamoto, Shigeko;
Samiian, Vida; Subbarao, K. V.
TITLE: Perspectives in Linguistics
SUBTITLE: Papers in Honor of P. J. Mistry
PUBLISHER: Indian Institute of Language Studies
YEAR: 2003
Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/16/16-2866.html

Pramod Pandey, Centre of Linguistics and English, Jawaharlal Nehru
University, New Delhi, India

INTRODUCTION

The present volume is a collection of papers in honor of P. J. Mistry,
linguist and educator. Mistry spent most of his professional life in the
Linguistics Department of California State University, Fresno and
played a key role in developing it. The contributions to the volume are
from his colleagues, collaborators and students on various aspects of
linguistic research, including linguistic theory, historical linguistics,
historiography, applied linguistics, and forensic linguistics.

SUMMARY

The first four papers introduce the reader to Mistry's contributions to
South Asian linguistics as a linguist and as a general bibliographer for
South Asia for the MLA (James Gair & Barbara Lust 'Felicitations for
P. J. Mistry', 13-14), to Gujarati linguistics (Babu Suthar 'P. J. Mistry' 1-
4), to Gujarati poetry (Jagdish Dave 'P. J. Mistry' 1-4), and to the
growth of his department at Fresno (Fred Brengelman 'Schoolmaster
linguists in England, 1550-1675', 25-36). These accounts of Mistry's
contributions commonly share the view of his qualities of head and
heart. Although the volume is not organized around topics, as is
generally the case with festschrifts, a majority of the remaining papers
can be classified into the following groups: core synchronic linguistics,
historical linguistics, Discourse Analysis, language teaching, research
methodology, and miscellaneous.

The core-linguistics papers present analyses of structural phenomena
in phonology, morphology and syntax. For example Sarju Devi & K. V.
Subbarao ('Reduplication and case copying: The case of lexical
anaphors in Manipuri and Telugu', 55-81) examine the role of
reduplication and Case copying in the formation of lexical anaphors in
languages from two different language families, Tibeto-Burman and
Dravidian, in terms of universal principles, with the aim of presenting
evidence for the mental organization of Language. Matazo Izutani
('Ga-o conversion in Japanese desiderative constructions revisited',
117-124) deals with the phenomenon of case marking known as ga/ o
(Nom/Acc) conversion in Japanese. Bharati Modi ('Gender in Gujarati',
247-260) presents an account of gender assignment and gender
agreement in Gujarati. Yukiko Morimoto ('Markedness hierarchies and
optimality in Bantu', 261-280) shows the phenomenon of Subject-
Object reversal in Bantu languages, found to be problematic in formal
linguistics, to be fully accountable within the approach of Optimality
Theory (OT). Bokyung Noh ('Event Grammar: English depictive
prdicates are thematically dependent', 281-296) closely examines the
phenomenon of Depictive Predication Construction (e.g., Tom sat on
the bench drunk; Tom ate the vegetable fresh) in terms of thematic
roles and accounts for the two types, subject (better Agent)-oriented
and object (better Theme)-oriented, in terms of two event arguments,
one (Agent-oriented) at the IP level and the other at the VP level.
Golston & Thurgood (Reduplication as echo: Evidence from Bontok
and Chumas, 81-106) explain the phenomenon of reduplication in
Bontok and Chumash, two rich reduplicative systems, within the
framework of OT, as a violation of *ECHO, which forbids the
concatenation of similar groups of sounds.

There are four papers devoted to Discourse Analysis -- by James
Cornish ('Questions of coherence: A pilot study of text relations and
ratings in and of timed writing texts', 37- 54), Hirokuni Masuda
('Displacement: The principle of theme organization in internalized
discourse', 217-234), Gerald McMenamin ('A forensic analysis of
writing style: An Indian-English case', 235-246) and Yoko Tada ('Turn-
taking by the visually impaired', 339-352). Cornish bases his study on
the hypotheses that there are describable differences in the
production and interpretation of coherence in texts written by a
speaker of L1 Korean and a speaker of L1 American English, and that
these differences can be smoothed out using the analytical technique
and language of Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST). Masuda presents
an analysis of Displacement - an alteration in the underlying sequence
of an event in a physical context in a discourse situation. The
phenomenon, with delayed theme as one of its consequences, is
found to conform to the principles of Narrative Representation Theory
(NRT), originating in the work of Dell Hymes, and thus provides
supporting evidence for it.

McMenamin's study reports a successful attempt at answering two
research questions arising from the following situation. A New Delhi
Company (ND) produces to a Tokyo firm (T) a letter of agreement
having been reached between them before the death of the CEO of T.
T failed to recognize the agreement and questioned the authenticity of
the documents produced by ND. The research questions for the
forensic linguist are: Could one of the two parties be excluded as the
authorship source of the two writings? And could one of the parties be
recognized as the source? The author shows how a stylistic analysis
using style markers for diagnosis including markers of format,
punctuation, spelling, word form and syntax, lead unambiguously to
the following results: T writers are excluded, and ND writers are
identified as the source of the material document. Tada presents an
account of turn-taking by the visually-impaired. The paper gives a
review of the comparative literature on language development by blind
children and a critical discussion of the turn-taking signals and
mechanisms in operation in conversation among the visually-impaired.

A noticeable feature of the present volume is the inclusion of papers
on historical linguistics, as well as a paper on historiography. The
latter by Fred Brengelman ('Schoolmaster linguists in England, 1550-
1675', 25-36) gives an account of the contributions by schoolmaster
linguists in England, 1550-1675, who made the first serious effort ''to
categorize the sounds of English, to make sense of (and help
rationalize, the spelling system, to develop a pedagogical grammar,
and to deal with all the questions raised by the effort to standardize
written English...''. The papers on historical linguistics, like the ones on
core synchronic linguistics, have theoretical orientation. Thus,
Natsuko Ishida ('The gerund in Chaucer's English from the viewpoint
of Cognitive Grammar', 107-116), through an examination of the
gerund in Chaucer's English, shows how the framework of Cognitive
Grammar helps explain the finding that the development of the gerund
in English has been sensitive to the external context/ environment in
which it appears. L. V. Khokhlova ('The distribution of analytic and
synthetic passives in Indo-European languages of western India', 139-
158) shows that the synthetic type passive is predominant in all the
languages of western India.

Se-Kyung Kim ('Murmur transfer in Classical Sanskrit', 159-174) offers
an Optimality Theoretic (OT) account of a long-standing phenomenon
of ''murmur assimilation'' in Sanskrit as a case of transfer rather than
deletion, as is assumed in many analyses. Kim argues that the
phenomenon of murmur transfer necessitates a two level analysis in
the grammar, namely, the root-level and the word-level. The constraint
ranking at the two levels is consistent following a general principle of
grammar. At both levels, MAX(F) dominates IDENT(F). At the root
level, IDENT(F) is not active as the inputs contain a floating feature.
The constraint is operative at the word-level, after the position of the
murmur feature is fixed at the root level. Ritva Laury ('Layering,
obsolescence and renewal: Oblique cases and adpositions in Finnish',
175- 184) investigates the grammaticalization of two adpositions in
Finnish, and their interaction with oblique cases and demonstrates the
crucial role of discourse in determining the path of grammatical
development of morphosyntactic devices as a result of patterns of
use. Fengxiang Li ('A diachronic examination of the motivations for the
rise and development of V_V compounds in Chinese', 185-202)
hypothesizes in a preliminary study of the development of verb
compounding in Chinese two main motivations- linguistic and socio-
political.

The volume has three papers on language teaching, with both
theoretical and pedagogic orientations. Kazue Kanno ('Effects on the
acquisition of verb gapping', 125- 138) examines the acquisition of
gapping by taking up four exemplary cases: Mandarin, with no
gapping, German, with bidirectional gapping, English, with
unidirectional gapping of the forward type, and Japanese, with
unidirectional gapping of the backward type. Kanno arrives at the
following results: a) The gapping option is easier to acquire when the
direction is from the subset (Mandarin) to a superset; b) Languages
allowing mirror image options , such as Japanese and English, are the
most difficult cases. Ellen Lipp & Debbie Ockey ('Using strategy
instruction to help ESL students understand teachr comments and
create revision plans', 203-217) present a report of a teaching
strategy for a course on writing, where the written comments by
teachers are not always easy to comprehend. Students were advised
to adopt the strategy of think aloud activities and further verbal
interaction with the teacher, which led to considerable improvement in
the written skills of the students. The study by Robert Russell ('L2
Japanese syntactic Attrition', 311-326) reports the finding regarding
the absence of any evidence of attrition of syntactic skills in Japanese
as a second language, based on the data on particle usage, the
number of clauses and the number of different subordinate clause
types used.

Finally, William Rutherford ('Crossing boundaries and keeping
priorities', 327-339) describes the turn of academic events in the
recent development of linguistic research, where inter-disciplinary
research is the inevitable movement among centers of academic
inquiry. Rutherford notes that this is so not because crossing the
boundaries is necessary for significant research today, but because
there are no boundaries. The proliferation of research on language, in
the author's opinion, should not be seen as centrifugal or flying apart
but as centripetal or coming together, mainly owing to the sustained
serious attention being paid to language as the focus of inquiry.

EVALUATION

The twenty-six papers are of almost uniformly high quality, and varied
approaches. The variety is reflected in the fact that the volume
needed five editors to put the papers together.

A majority of the papers focus on novel ways of handling familiar
problems. Thus Golston & Thurgood's analysis argues for a lexical
view of reduplication as opposed to the grammatical view as assumed
in Alan Prince and Paul Smolensky's 1993 seminal work on OT. A
general theme running through many of the papers is that core
linguistic phenomena are better analyzable if the analyses include the
dimension of language use and evolution. For instance, Matso Izutani
argues that the recalcitrant cases of Case marking in Japanese can
be accounted for by taking recourse to functional notions such as
focus and exhaustive listing, and a discourse constraint banning
multiple foci in a clause/ sentence. The point in Bharati Modi's analysis
of gender assignment in Gujarati is that the phenomenon is
dependent on historical, semantic (pragmatic?) and phonological
factors. Yukiko Morimoto shows that Subject-Object Reversal in Bantu
languages displays sensitivity to markedness hierarchies, which are a
problem in formal approaches to grammar, but which can be
incorporated into a formal theory of grammar, such as OT. Cornish
successfully shows that RST ''can give us a fresh way of talking about
the process and problems of essay evaluation of different speakers''.
The paper by Kim makes an interesting claim regarding the
morphological structure being determined by constraint interaction
rather than being given in the lexicon.

Rutherford's paper is an apt conclusion for the various contributions to
the present volume. One notices a general concern for a 'de-fenced'
view of language that requires concerted efforts towards a better
understanding of the central issues in the study of language. The view
that emerges in this regard is that the existing differences in the
approaches to linguistic analysis should not be seen as contending,
rather as complementary. These differences may have to do with the
issue of the theoretical goal of linguistics (explanation of linguistic
knowledge versus explanation of linguistic texts), the nature of
linguistic knowledge (innate and autonomous versus acquired through
experience/ use and interactive with other domains of knowledge), the
relevant data (Native speaker's intuition versus linguistic structures),
the nature of explanation (Deductive-Nomological versus teleological
and statistical), or linguistic evidence (Internal versus External , i.e.
use, damage, change, etc.), among others.

The contributions to the volume are thus contributions to the
discipline, a sincere tribute to a sincere linguist and humanist.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Pramod Pandey is Professor of Linguistics at the Centre of Linguistics
and English, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi since June 2001.
He holds graduate and research degrees in the fields of English and
Linguistics from Pune and Hyderabad, India. He has also held post-
doctoral and visiting fellowships at various institutions in Europe and
the USA for short durations. He has taught various courses in
theoretical and applied linguistics. His main area of research are
linguistic theory, phonology, and English language teaching. He is
currently working on a book entitled, "Sounds and Their Patterns in
the Languages of India".


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