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LINGUIST List 19.1002

Tue Mar 25 2008

Review: Syntax: Welke (2007)

Editor for this issue: Randall Eggert <randylinguistlist.org>


This LINGUIST List issue is a review of a book published by one of our supporting publishers, commissioned by our book review editorial staff. We welcome discussion of this book review on the list, and particularly invite the author(s) or editor(s) of this book to join in. To start a discussion of this book, you can use the Discussion form on the LINGUIST List website. For the subject of the discussion, specify "Book Review" and the issue number of this review. If you are interested in reviewing a book for LINGUIST, look for the most recent posting with the subject "Reviews: AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW", and follow the instructions at the top of the message. You can also contact the book review staff directly.
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        1.    Randall Eggert, Review: Syntax: Welke (2007)


Message 1: Review: Syntax: Welke (2007)
Date: 25-Mar-2008
From: Randall Eggert <randylinguistlist.org>
Subject: Review: Syntax: Welke (2007)
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Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/18/18-2483.html
AUTHOR: Welke, Klaus
TITLE: Einf├╝hrung in die Satzanalyse (Constituent Analysis in German)
SUBTITLE: Die Bestimmung der Satzglieder im Deutschen
SERIES: de Gruyter Studienbuch
PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter
YEAR: 2007

Tania Avgustinova, Senior Researcher and Senior Lecturer, Computational
Linguistics Department, Saarland University

SUMMARY
As constituent analysis is one of the basic skills required of prospective
specialists in German studies it is therefore a mandatory component of
university teaching. This textbook offers a detailed overview of the theoretical
concepts and terminology of constituent analysis, which are explained with
examples and sample analyses, supplemented by exercises and an index. As a
result, the book instructs the reader how to identify individual constituents
(main clause, subordinate clause, object, predicate, attribute, etc) and can be
used for self-study. It also gives basic insights into the syntactic structure
of the German language and facilitates language comparison in foreign language
teaching. This textbook is especially intended for students, but it can also
serve as a fundamental teaching aid for teachers and instructors of linguistics.
Its key features are both detailed an introduction to constituent analysis and a
valuable preparatory work for the study of German linguistics, which make it
relevant for university undergraduate courses, school education and self-study.
Hence, it may be of interest to students, teachers, academics, institutes, and
libraries.

Chapter 1 starts with explaining the basic notions of dependency and
constituency, and how syntactic ambiguities are handled by (i) traditional
school-grammar-style analyses, (ii) in dependency grammar, and (iii) in phrase
structure grammar. As a result of the comparison, a conclusion is drawn that all
three approaches can represent the ambiguity, with (i) being still a powerful
analytical instrument to consider in revealing sentence structure. The next
important aspect is showing how constituent analysis directly translates into
syntactic relations, which are then systematically distinguished from syntactic
categories. A clear presentation of various types of sentences and clausal
constructions completes the overview. Chapter 2 offers a detailed sample
analysis following the terminology just explained. In what follows, the focus is
on the syntactic functions in German, namely: the attribute (Chapter 3), the
subject (Chapter 4), the object (Chapter 5), the adverbial (Chapter 6), and the
predicative (Chapter 7). The full spectrum of complex predicates is then
considered in Chapter 8. The functional aspect of the constituent analysis is a
main topic of Chapter 9, put in a historical perspective and in the general
linguistic context of modern functional or universal grammar. Finally, Chapter
10 offers sample analyses with detailed comments. All analyzed sentences are
listed in the end of the book, which makes it a valuable learning tool.

EVALUATION
All in all, this is a very basic textbook which puts together the comprehensive
minimum of grammatical knowledge on syntax that is typically taken for granted
by the instructors in linguistic courses at German universities. To this effect
the book contains no explicit research contributions, and yet it is particularly
useful in re-collecting foundational linguistic knowledge that is required for
pre-theoretical syntactic analysis. Its main goal is to enable active
participation in linguistics courses by providing the students as well as their
instructors with a reliable ''learning-by-doing'' tutorial.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Tania Avgustinova is Senior Researcher at DFKI Language Technology Lab and
Senior Lecturer in Computational Linguistics at Saarland University. She has
extensive experience in multilingual and monolingual grammar engineering,
computational modeling of Slavic languages and machine translation. She also
teaches introductory and advanced courses in theoretical linguistics
(grammatical analysis and theory, linguistic typology, information structure),
computational linguistics (grammar formalisms and computer grammars) and
Slavistics (theoretical models and their application to synchronic Slavic
linguistics).







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