By Sari Pietikäinen, Alexandra Jaffe, Helen Kelly-Holmes, Nik Coupland
Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users"
Bartens, Angela (2003) A Contrastive Grammar: Islander-Caribbean Standard English-Spanish, Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, Series Humaniora 327.
Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/14/14-1766.html
Svetlana Kurtes, Language Centre, University of Cambridge, UK
The present monograph is a succinct contrastive grammar of the three languages spoken in the Caribbean islands of San Andrés and Old Providence -- Islander (a Western Atlantic English-based Creole, assumed to be a descendant of Jamaican Creole and spoken by some 20,000 people), Caribbean Standard English and Spanish. The monograph comprises two main parts: Word classes and phrases and The sentence. Part I is subdivided into nine chapters: Nouns and the noun phrase; The article; Adjectives and the adjective phrase; Pronouns; Quantifiers; Adverbs and the adverbial phrase; Verbs and the verb phrase; Prepositions and the prepositional phrase; Conjunctions. There are two chapters in Part II: The simple sentence and The complex sentence. In addition to the grammar part, the monograph includes a further elaboration on the phonetic and graphematic systems of Islander (pp.17-26), as well as some theoretical considerations on contrastive linguistics and contrastive grammar. A detailed report on lexical Africanisms in Islander also is appended (pp.137-172). References.
In the introductory comments Bartens gives further details on the theoretical ramification of her work, pointing out that the traditional structural-functional model still proves to be the most suitable for applied contrastive grammars (p. 11; also Coseriu 1972: 43), although the contrastivist should generally be eclectic in his/her approach to theoretical models. The major point to be borne in mind when deciding on this important issue is the underlying motivation that differentiates theoretical (TCL) and applied (ACL) contrastive linguistics from one another - 'while the former aims at revealing universal structures and the essence of language (e.g. Wandruszka 1971:135), ACL seeks to contribute to the pedagogy of the teaching of specific language pairs' (p.10). Thus a theoretical contrastive grammar (CG), although possible to conceive, would require an immense endeavour to be achieved practically. Namely, it is supposed to meet the four basic requirements by being bi-directional, descriptive, contrastive and comprehensive (ibid.; also Czochralski 1966:20 ff). Consequently, applied CGs are by and large unidirectional, simultaneously descriptive-contrastive and selective in their approach to the observed linguistic phenomena (ibid.; Czochralski, op. cit.; Filipovic 1986:8 ff).
Bartens further comments on the concept of tertium comparationis, central to CL. It is pointed out that different types of tertium comparationis are necessary in order to contrast different levels of the observed languages. Moreover, modern CGs must not neglect 'the pragmatic, sociocultural and psycholinguistic levels which are nevertheless as integrally part of language as phonology or syntax' (p. 12) and establish the tertia comparationis accordingly. The pedagogical necessity to focus on actual language usage, termed the 'Sprachnorm' by Coseriu (1972:54 ff), has long been observed, and more recently contrastive studies have successfully incorporated into their methodological apparatus the concept of 'cultural scripts', a 'natural semantic metalanguage' derived in particular from Wierzbicka's legacy (1991). This is also the reason why contrastive analysis deals with bilingual and bi-directional corpora comprising a representative sample of the Spraschnorm, translations and parallel texts. Bartens concludes that this apparent 'bias toward actual language usage has earned CL the critique of not being ''serious'', i.e., theoretical enough, for not dealing exclusively with the system level (Schmitt 1997:9-12). But it is precisely by analyzing the levels of the parole and the ''Spraschnorm'' that CL is able to generalize to the system level (Schmitt 1997:12-15)' (p.13).
Another important issue to be determined is the manner of presentation in a CG. Existing grammars can essentially be classified into three basic types: a) the structures are presented interlinearly (e.g. Veiga 1995); b) the structures are presented in separate columns or on the different sides of an opening (e.g. Engel et al. 1999); c) the structures are described for one language, then for the other and finally they are contrasted (e.g. Damoiseau 1999). It is possible to conceive a hypothetical type e) consisting of two separate parts, descriptive and contrastive, as proposed by Czochralski (1966). Finally, an intermediate type d) is found in CGs in which the descriptive and contrastive approach is applied to a particular area of grammar at a time (e.g. Engel et al. 1986).
Bartens' own manner of presentation is a combination of types c) and a), while the examples are always interlinear. The author also specifies that the examples presented in the grammar are authentic, collected during fieldwork undertaken in San Andrés and Old Providence in 2001 and 2002. Each grammatical category is briefly defined in terms of its form and function, utilising a traditional approach terminologically and theoretically. The grammar is trilingual for a number of reasons. Namely, there is a very strong opinion on the islands that the three languages influence each other, which in succession determines other relevant issues in language pedagogy and language policy. The author, however, emphasises that although Spanish is widely spoken as the first and very often the only language of more and more Islander children, its actual influence on Islander is still restricted to massive calquing with no extensive structural influence, at least not for the time being (p. 14; also Bartens forthcoming).
The present volume is a very welcome and long overdue contribution to the theory and practice of contrastive linguistics, persuasively showing the full potential of the discipline and reaffirming its place among other linguistic branches.
Bartens' confidence in traditional principles of contrastive analysis has resulted in a clear, well-presented and multifaceted contrastive grammar, a form unjustifiably neglected for quite a while now. The grammar neatly complements not only the existing literature on theoretical and applied contrastive studies, but also the available descriptive and pedagogical grammars of the languages in question. Moreover, the fact that the grammar at the same time represents the only comprehensive description of the Islander language is no doubt a very praiseworthy achievement in the documentation and promotion of less commonly spoken languages. Finally, and equally importantly, the appended corpus of lexical Africanisms and the presented results of the sociolinguistic study further supplement current linguistic and multidisciplinary research of pidgins and Creoles.
The grammar, while closely adhering to the mainstream European legacy of contrastive analysis, also introduces some innovative procedures into its methodological apparatus, yielding contrastively valuable results. This is precisely the reason why it will be very gladly received among the members of its intended readership -- academics and practitioners in the field of contrastive linguistics and other tangent disciplines, who should take it as a model of the genre.
Bartens, Angela (forthcoming). Life-lines. Language contact and language conflict on San Andres Islas, Colombia, The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, Helsinki.
Coseriu, Eugenio 1972. 'Über Leistung und Grenzen der kontrastiven Grammatik'. In G Nickel (ed), Reader zur kontrastiven Linguistik, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, pp. 39-58.
Czochralski, Jan 1966. 'Grundsätzliches zur Theorie der kontrastiven Linguistik', In Linguistics 24, pp. 17-28.
Damoiseau, Robert 1999. Elements de grammaire comparee Francais-Creole, Ibis Rouge Editions, Petit-Bourg, Guadeloupe.
Engel, et al 1999. Deutsch-polnische kontrastive Grammatik, 2 vols, Julius Groos, Heidelberg.
Filipovic, Rudolf 1986. 'Geleitwort: Kontrastive Grammatik im Rahmen der Kontrastiven Linguistik'. In Engel et al., Kontrastive Grammatik Deutsch-Serbokroatisch, 2 vols, Institut za strane jezike i knjizevnosti, Novi Sad.
Schmitt, Christian 1997. 'Prinzipien, Methoden und empirische Anwendung der kontrastiven Linguistik für das Sprachenpaar Deutsch/Spanisch'. In Gerd Wotjak (ed), Studien zum romanisch-deutschen und innerromanischen Sprachvergleich, Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main, pp. 9-30.
Veiga, Manuel 1995. O crioulu de Cabo Verde. Introducao a Gramatica, Instituto Caboverdiano do Livro e do Disco, Praia.
Wandruszka, Mario 1971. Interlinguistik. Umrisse einer neuen Sprachwissenschaft, Piper, München.
Wierzbicka, Anna 1991. Cross-cultural pragmatics. The semantics of human interaction, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Svetlana Kurtes holds a BA in English Philology and an MA in Sociolinguistics from Belgrade University and an MPhil in Applied Linguistics from Cambridge University. She worked as a Lecturer in English at Belgrade University and is currently affiliated to Cambridge University Language Centre. Her research interests involve contrastive linguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatics/stylistics, translation theory and language pedagogy.