Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 10:26:38 -0400 From: Adam Werle Subject: Pronouns and Word Order in Old English
van Bergen, Linda (2003) Pronouns and Word Order in Old English: With Particular Reference to the Indefinite Pronoun 'Man', Routledge, Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics.
Adam Werle, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
The goal of this book, a revised version of author's doctoral dissertation, is to clarify the word order differences between the Old English personal pronouns and full nominals, and discover whether the indefinite pronoun _man_ 'one' can be classified as one or the other, or must be relegated to a third category. On the basis of its ordering properties, van Bergen groups _man_ with the pronouns, and proposes an analysis of the pronouns as clitics. Chapter 1 reviews the work that has been done on the word order of subjects and objects in Old English, drawing particular attention to an ordering difference between personal pronouns and full nominals. Pronominal subjects tend not to invert to a postverbal position after a topicalized (fronted) constituent, while nominal subjects do invert in this context. Similarly, pronominal objects, unlike nominal objects, are frequently preverbal. Van Bergen later uses the noninversion of pronominal subjects as an important diagnostic for the pronounhood, as opposed to nounhood, of _man_. Chapter 1 also contains a discussion of the corpora that were used for data searches; these were primarily the Toronto Corpus (13), and secondarily the Helsinki Corpus (17). The entirety of Chapter 2 is devoted to examining pronominal subjects' resistance to inversion after topics, and whether _man_ is similarly resistant to inversion. Van Bergen marshals a number of statistical comparisons of the behavior of various elements in inversion contexts. She finds that subjunctive and negated verbs make pronominal subjects more likely to invert after a topic. Once the effects of subjunctives and negatives are taken out, pronominal subjects rarely invert. Van Bergen concludes that _man_ tends not to invert in the same contexts as pronominal subjects, suggesting that it is to be analyzed as a pronoun. Chapter 3 refutes a possible argument that _man_ exhibits ordering characteristics of nominal subjects; specifically, that _man_ follows object pronouns when they are inverted to postverbal position, and when they follow the subordinator in subordinate clauses. Traditional pronominal subjects, by contrast, precede object pronouns in these contexts. Van Bergen demonstrates that the only peculiarity of _man_ compared to other subject pronouns is that it follows, rather than precedes, the object pronouns. In support of the pronominal status of _man_, she shows that it forms a cluster with the other pronouns that cannot be separated from the verb in postverbal position, and that cannot be broken up by other words. By contrast, inverted nominal subjects can be separated from the verb by a number of adverbial constituents (96), and from preceding object pronouns by various light adverbs (101). Chapter 4 presents van Bergen's clitic analysis, the meat of which is found in Section 4.3. The chief arguments that the personal pronouns are clitics are that they are strictly verb-adjacent in inversion, they do not alliterate in verse (indicating that they are, at least sometimes, unstressed, 163-166), they are strictly ordered within their cluster in the order SUBJECT > OBJECT > _man_, and this cluster cannot be interrupted by other elements, even light adverbs. Nevertheless, van Bergen acknowledges that the evidence for clitichood is not unequivocal (155). The final section of the chapter argues against a possible analysis of some or all Old English pronouns as "weak pronouns" rather than clitics (see Critical Evaluation). Chapter 5 considers various proposed clause structures for Old English, comparing them using the Government and Binding framework. The significant points of variation between the proposals are whether topics move to the Specifier of IP or CP, whether the finite verb moves to the head of IP or CP when it is in Verb-Second position, and whether such verb movement is obligatory or optional. Van Bergen adopts most of the proposal of Kroch & Taylor (1997), concluding that topics move to the Specifier of CP, pronominal clitics are adjoined to IP, and the verb moves to the head of IP or of CP, depending on context (197). In a final section, she concludes that topicalization and verb movement to the head of CP are in principle independent, though they usually do not cooccur (206). Chapter 6 briefly summarizes the book's main conclusions and offers some suggestions for future research. Van Bergen observes that the ordering of object pronouns and other possibly pronominal elements remains to be studied exhaustively, and proposes to pursue in future work a diachronic study of English pronoun orders.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER Adam Werle is a PhD candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His interests include clitics and the syntax-phonology interface, language change and typology, and the Wakashan languages. He periodically conducts fieldwork on Ditidaht, a First Nations language of British Columbia.