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Review of  Linguistic Variation Yearbook 2007

Reviewer: Eugenia Romanova
Book Title: Linguistic Variation Yearbook 2007
Book Author: Jeroen van Craenenbroeck Johan E.C.V. Rooryck
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Issue Number: 21.3030

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EDITORS: Van Craenenbroeck, Jeroen; Rooryck, Johan
TITLE: Linguistic Variation Yearbook
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins Publishing Company
YEAR: 2008

Eugenia Romanova, Department of Linguistics, Institute of International
Relations, Yekaterinburg


This is an outstanding collection of papers, united by the topic of variation,
but fairly diverse otherwise, covering the subfields of syntax, semantics and
language acquisition. With respect to language selection, the volume discusses
both Indo-European languages, like English, French and Dutch; and a number of
languages that have received less attention in the literature, like Halkomelem,
Hmong and San Lucas Quiavini Zapotec. The majority of the authors whose works
are included in the book are renowned linguists like, for example, Richard Kayne
or Norbert Hornstein, but there are also contributions from younger scientists
like Robert Truswell or Oana Lungu. In a word, the volume is an attractive read
for specialists with a formal background in theoretical linguistics and a wide
variety of research interests.

It opens with an Introduction by the editors, Jeroen Van Craenenbroeck and Johan
Rooryck, in which they give a short outline of the collection. The first article
that follows it is ''Antisymmetry and the Lexicon'', by Richard S. Kayne (pp.
1-31). The article may ignite a lot of discussions, since it introduces a novel
criterion for distinguishing between open and closed word classes and arrives at
the conclusion that verbs and nouns belong to different classes. The distinction
rests on the idea that only unvalued features can lead to parametric variation.
Since nouns represent the category that can denote, they should enter the
derivation with no unvalued features (p. 7) (cf. the criterion of identity in
Baker 2003). As a consequence, nouns do not have specifiers. Verbs, on the other
hand, do carry unvalued features and, according to the author, are invariably
formed by way of conflation a la Hale and Keyser (1993). In other words, 'all
verbs are light verbs' (p. 9). Naturally, they make up a closed class. Another
distinction between nouns and verbs is that the former ''invariably undergo
singleton-set formation rather than merging with a phrase-set'' (p. 12). The
repercussion of this claim is that nouns do not have complements either. The
remainder of the article is devoted to showing that the 'that'-clause after 'the
fact' is not a complement but rather a relative. The reasoning is extended to
the analysis of 'of'-phrases following derived nominals.

''Tense marking in the nominal domain. Implications for grammar architecture'', by
Artemis Alexiadou (pp. 33-60): This article deals with an interesting phenomenon
of temporal morphology in the nominal domain, which occurs, for example, in
Somali and Halkomelem, discussed in the paper:

1. Somali
dhibaata-dii Khaliij-ku way dhammaatay.
demonstrations-DEF[+past] Gulf-DETm.NOM F.3s ended+past
The Gulf crisis ended.

2. Halkomelem
i'mex te-l si:la-lh.
walk DET-1sg.poss grandfather-past
My late grandfather walked.
(p. 34)

The author argues against the notion of 'temporal tenses', showing that nominals
have no expletives or nominative Case and do not allow raising. In addition,
clauses having TP (Tense Phrase) should be headed by C (Complementizer) rather
than D (Determiner). Tense morphology on Somali nouns is comparable to
specificity markers in other languages and performs similar functions. Moreover,
it provides extra evidence for splitting DP into definiteness and specificity
layers, postulated in analyzing, for example, Scandinavian nominals. Tense
morphology on Halkomelem nouns is comparable to such English modifiers as
'former' and does not represent a functional formal feature. This is an
interpretable T (Tense) feature, which does not require valuation and thus the
presence of TP. The claim that there is no TP in Halkomelem is supported by a)
facts listed on p. 51, and b) by identical behaviour of nominal and verbal
projections in Salishan languages.

''Copy-reflexive and copy-control constructions. A movement analysis'', by Cedric
Boeckx, Norbert Hornstein and Jairo Nunes (pp. 61-100): The discussion in this
paper is based on syntactic peculiarities of such languages as Hmong and San
Lucas Quiavini Zapotec (SLQZ). These languages provide evidence for analysing
antecedent-anaphora and control structures from the point of view of movement,
which equals copy and merge operations. Reflexive and control sentences in Hmong
and SLQZ can be expressed like (3) and (4) below ((1-b) and (2-b), p. 63 in the

3. John saw John. (= John saw himself.)
4. John wants John to eat. (= John wants to eat.)

First, the authors show that reflexive structures like (3) above are reflexive
indeed, since they display sloppy readings under ellipsis (p. 65) and are the
only ones violating Principles B and C ((7) and (8) on p. 66). The reflexive
structure is achieved by (A-)movement. The claim is supported by the
unacceptability of coordination of copy-reflexives with other nominals (movement
from one of the conjuncts is illegitimate, (12), p. 68). The next point in
discussion addresses the satisfaction of Case requirements which demands
somewhat more complicated machinery, based on Hornstein's (2001) analysis of

The second half of the paper deals with problematic cases featuring certain
restrictions. For instance, overt copies are not allowed in the case of
quantified expressions either in SQLZ ((40), p. 79), or in Hmong ((44), p. 80).
Another issue addressed here is why there are so few languages like the two
above, where we observe overt multiple copies left behind by movement. The
explanation given hinges mostly on the LCA (Linear Correspondence Axiom) by
Kayne (1994).

''Sequence of tense in (French) child language'', by Hamida Demirdache and Oana
Lungu (pp.101-130): This paper is about a parametric variation between
English-like languages, on the one hand, and Japanese-like languages, on the
other, and the two parameters in child language. The difference between these
two types of language is that the former have sequence of tenses (SOT), and the
latter do not. Discussing a number of detailed experiments with young French
speakers (French is the English-type language) the authors demonstrate that at a
certain stage of language acquisition child grammar is radically different from
adult grammar of French in the area of sequence of tenses. The main approach to
treating sequence of tenses is adopted from Kratzer (1998) and is called
zero-tense morphology. In its turn Kratzer's theory is based on a referential
theory of tenses (Partee 1984). From this position, the embedded tense is a
zero-tense that gets bound by the matrix tense ((11), p. 107). In SOT languages
the temporal features of a zero-tense are determined by PF (Phonetic Form)
agreement between the embedded tense and its antecedent; in non-SOT languages
the temporal features of a zero-tense are the default/unmarked features ((12),
p. 107). In SOT languages sequence of tenses holds both in relative and
complement clauses. The following readings are possible: a) backward-shifted
interpretation when the SIT-T (Situation Time) of the embedded clause precedes
the SIT-T of the matrix clause ((2-a), p. 103); b) forward-shifted
interpretation when the SIT-T in the past of the embedded event follows the
SIT-T in the past of the matrix clause ((2-b), p. 103); c) simultaneous reading
of past under past when the SIT-T of the embedded clause coincides with the
SIT-T of the matrix clause ((3), p. 104); d) Double Access (DA) reading when the
SIT-T of the embedded clause in the present can be interpreted as either
coinciding with the SIT-T of the matrix clause or with the UT-T (Utterance
Time); and e) Indexical non-simultaneous interpretation when the SIT-T of the
embedded clause coincides with the UT-T.

In the series of experiments with children a number of different situations were
offered (pp. 110-113). The first experiment included altogether four constructions:
1) a relative clause with double access (DA),
2) a relative clause with a simultaneous reading,
3) a SOT construction with DA,
4) and a SOT construction with a simultaneous reading.

Surprisingly, the children accepted present on the simultaneous construals (when
an indexical construal is enforced in the target grammar) and pure simultaneous
construals of present tensed complement clauses (when a DA construal is enforced
in the adult grammar) (pp. 128-129)

One of the conclusions made on the basis of the experiments is that children
acquiring an SOT language go through a stage of multiple grammars; and judging
by the results of similar experiments with Japanese children, this is also true
of children acquiring a non-SOT language.

''Prepositional stranding, passivisation, and extraction from adjuncts in
Germanic'', by Robert Truswell (pp. 131-178): The author proposes a parameter
which neatly splits the Germanic languages into clear groups according to
whether they allow P-stranding i) at all; ii) under A- or A'-movement; iii)
under A'-movement only; or iv) under A-movement only. He claims that there are
no languages of type (iv). So, one of the main questions of the article is what
is the relation between pseudopassivization and A'-movement, since the former
cannot exist unless the latter is an option too. One more structure enters the
picture here: Bare Present Participial Adjuncts (BPPAs), extraction from which
has a very similar crosslinguistic distribution to P-stranding. Despite being a
token of A'-movement, extraction from BPPAs patterns with pseudopassivization.

Discussing the intricacies of P-stranding the author gives an overview of two
existing approaches to prepositional stranding, one offered in Hornstein and
Weinberg (1981) (Reanalysis Theory) and the other in Abels (2003) (Escape Hatch
Theory). Neither of them fully satisfies the author.

The reanalysis theory states that V (verb) and right-hand material within it,
for example P (Preposition), form a complex verb V*, also called a semantic
word, and other material is the complement of this complex verb, so it is quite
mobile. One of its predictions is that extraction from extraposed PPs
(Prepositional Phrases) is not allowed. The author, however, finds the contrasts
illustrating the prediction ((16), (17), (18), p. 139) very subtle for native
judgment. In addition, the reanalysis theory is not restricted enough.

The escape hatch analysis is based on the head constraint. The author uses its
modified version (Abels 2003). PP is claimed to be a bounding node, and
extracted material should pass through a so-called 'escape hatch' on the
periphery of the projection (for example, [Spec, P] (Specifier, Preposition)).
Abels (2003) postulates that heads of PPs are phases establishing Agree
relations in their c-command domain and intervening for the establishment of
such Agree relations by higher heads ((31), p. 145). So, languages differ as to
whether P is a phase or not. In the former case the complement of P cannot move
and so P cannot strand. The second parameter in Abels's theory is whether P
obligatorily assigns Case to its complement, or optionally. Despite all its
virtues, this approach, however, cannot explain the problem of a relation
between A'-movement and P-stranding, demonstrated by the co-existence of BPPAs
and pseudopassivization.

The author offers his own solution to this problem, based on Abels's theory. It
lies in the (uninterpretable) feature suppression mechanism. In
pseudopassivization the ability of P to assign Case is suppressed, and in
extraction from BPPAs the suppressed feature is the phasehood of the participial
head. The solution is not unproblematic either, but additional questions (or
rather prospects) are formulated towards the conclusion.

''Variation in the expression of universal quantification and free choice. The
case of Hausa koo-wh expressions'', by Malte Zimmermann (pp.179-232): This
article is devoted to the semantic variation of morphologically complex
expressions simultaneously containing a wh-element and a disjunctive element
that the author calls WH-DISJ. These elements have different interpretations in
different languages. For example, in Hausa (the language under discussion) they
have an interpretation of distributive operators with a universal force, on the
one hand (koo-mee = koo+what 'everything', 'anyone', p. 180) and a Free Choice
reading similar to English 'any'. In Japanese and Malayalam, in their turn,
WH-DISJ expressions receive an existential interpretation. Semantic differences
lead to differences in the syntactic distribution of these expressions.

While describing the quantificational system of Hausa, the author subdivides its
types into lexical quantification (a quantificational operator is introduced
into the semantic representation of NP as part of its lexical meaning) and
syntactic quantification (a quantificational operator is not introduced as part
of NP; it assigns the NP its quantificational force by binding the variable
introduced by the Noun Phrase (Heim 1982).

In their universal reading koo-wh expressions in Hausa are similar to English
'each/every'. A number of questions arise in this respect, e.g. what is the
source of the universal force of koo-wh expressions or why analogous expressions
are interpreted differently (existentially) in other languages. Here the
importance of the second possible readings of koo-wh in Hausa becomes apparent.

The Free Choice Item (FCI) reading is available in intensional or modal
contexts, but the universal interpretation is not excluded from such contexts
either. So, there are no strict contexts with strictly one interpretation of
koo-wh expressions, which is taken to be an argument against treating them as
lexically ambiguous (pp. 203-204). The author also rejects treating them as
indeterminate pronouns (pp. 204-205). She concludes that the observable surface
interpretations of these expressions can be derived from their basic universal

The article makes two attempts at a unified syntactic and semantic analysis of
WH-DISJ expressions across languages. The first account suggests treating the
disjunction marker as the Boolean join-operator. The universal force in Hausa
arises from the local composition of the join-operator and the set of
alternatives provided by the WH-element. In languages like Japanese or Malayalam
the disjunction marker operates at the clausal level at LF and combines with the
WH-element contained in the clause as well. For a number of reasons (pp.
212-215), however, this kind of analysis for Japanese and Malayalam (and
Kannada) is rejected in favour of the indeterminate pronoun analysis.

Further in the article the indeterminate pronoun analysis is tried for Hausa to
account for the free choice interpretation of the koo-wh expressions. The
unified approach fails here too for the reasons explained on pp. 224-227. Koo-wh
expressions are proposed to be generalized quantifiers, like in the previous

The author concludes that ''WH-DISJ expressions are interpreted by different
interpretive mechanisms in different languages, in spite of their parallel
morpho-syntactic structure'' (p. 215).

''Collective numeral constructions in Dutch. Remarkable plurals, regular syntax
and silent nouns'', by Norbert Corver and Huib Kranendonk (pp. 233-268): This
article deals with the following constructions in Dutch:

5. a)
Wij tweeën geven vandaag een lezing.
we two-en give today a talk
'The two of us give a talk today'.

Ze heeft ons tweeën niet herkend.
she has us two-en not recognized
'She didn't recognize the two of us.'

We schrijven met z'n negenen een artikel.
we write with POSS-PRON nine-en an article
'The nine of us are writing an article'. ((3), (4), p. 234)

The suffix -en usually marks plurality of a noun, as in een boek 'one book' -
twee boeken 'two books'. However, in the examples above -en does not express
plurality of the numerals twee 'two' or negen 'nine'. In addition, the 'normal'
plural form of 'nine' looks like negens ((5-b), p. 235).

The analysis the authors propose for this phenomenon employs the notion of
silent nouns developed by Kayne (e.g., 2007). The silent noun in the
constructions under discussion is PERSOON 'person' and the suffix -en attaches
to it rather than to a numeral. On pp. 239-240 the evidence for silent nouns in
Dutch is given, then the examples with a non-silent grammatical noun 'persoon'
are offered ((32), p. 241):

Jan gaf mij informatie over [Anna's persoon].
Jan gave me information about Anna's person
'Jan gave me information about Anna.'

The authors conclude that silent grammatical nouns require a licenser, and
according to Kayne (2003) there should be some sort of antecedent ''which makes
it possible to recover the (semantic) contents of the silent noun'' (p. 248). The
silent grammatical noun PERSOON in Dutch sentences like the above can only
appear in the presence of a personal pronoun with the features [+person,
+plural, +human] as demonstrated in (54), p. 248 (wij vier PERSOON-en 'we four
person-en' = 'the four of us' is possible, whereas *vier PERSOON-en 'four
person-en' is not). Since the feature [+human] is associated with the strong
pronoun in D, the resulting syntactic analysis for wij/ons tweeen looks like the

8. [DP wij/ons] [NumP twee]] [NP PERSOON-en]] ((65), p. 252)

The construction met z'n tweeen requires more complicated machinery, since it
contains the weak pronoun z'n, whose person, number and gender features
(phi-features) are unspecified. The only grammatical feature it has is
'possessive'. This possessive pronoun z'n is analysed from the point of view of
Predicate Inversion (Den Dikken (1998)). Without going into the intricacies of
this analysis applied to z'n, I should mention that what we see neatly reflects
the transformations changing the small clause configuration (XP) with the NumP
(Number Phrase) as its subject and the dative PP as its predicative phrase into
a possessive construction. Thus, the element ''z'' is the spell-out of the
functional head F dominating the XP, and the second element '''n'' is taken to be
a so-called spurious indefinite article, which ''typically shows up in contexts
of DP-internal predicate movement'' (p. 259).

The article ends with a micro-comparative perspective (pp. 261-264), which
demonstrates the realizations of wij vieren and met z'n/ons vieren across
different Dutch dialects.


I found the book impressive in the quality of the contributions and in the range
of topics discussed under the rubric of linguistic variation. A number of papers
were particularly clear and easy to follow, like the ones by Artemis Alexiadou,
Norbert Corver & Huib Kranendonk, and especially Robert Truswell.

This is partly true of the article by Richard Kayne as well. The main difficulty
for me was his reasoning in favour of the non-complement (relative) character of
postnominal material, like in 'the fact that they're here', ((23), p. 12) or
'the removal of the evidence', ((50), p. 17)). The machinery is overcomplicated
and some moves seem poorly motivated. However, readers will find this piece
original and worthy of lengthy discussions.

The article by Boeckx, Hornstein and Nunes represents a strong argument in the
dispute about movement analysis of control structures (see, e.g., Boeckx &
Hornstein (2006), Landau (2006) and Davies & Dubinsky (2006)). It is one of the
most curious and inspirational papers of the volume with a lot of interesting
data. However, readers might have doubts about Case requirements circumvented on
p. 70. The curious premise that nominal copies 'can be phonetically realized
only if they are Case licensed' (p.71) poses the question how to represent a
structure like 'he was killed by himself', where the movement to a
Theta-position would violate some locality constraints, in my opinion. It is
also stated that if we have an unchecked Case feature, a local movement to a
Theta-position is impossible; if we don't, it is necessary. But then I don't see
how we account for movement in reflexive structures vs. passive structures.

Another big question is why in the languages under discussion are all the overt
copies personal names or name-like expressions? The account (pp. 84-87) along
the lines of morphological fusion and removing copies from the visual field of
the LCA seemed a bit disappointing, for, intuitively, I expected something
simpler and neater, like sentential (quantificational or focus) elements merging
high and, of course, not appearing in copies (cf. Sportiche (2005)).

My less theoretical criticism concerns the article by Malte Zimmermann. I think
it could be shorter and contain fewer repetitions, that is, the layout seemed a
bit unfortunate. After having admitted that languages differ with respect to
interpretation of the WH-DISJ expressions on p. 215 the author tries another
analysis which undermines this statement. It was also unclear whether the author
considers QR (Quantifier Raising) a possibility (p. 212) or a problematic
assumption (p. 209). The paper is, however, one of the most complicated in the

In spite of these imperfections, the book would be a good acquisition for a
theoretical linguist's scientific library.


Abels, Klaus. 2003. Successive Cyclicity, Anti-locality and Adposition
Stranding. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Connecticut.

Baker, Mark C. 2003. Lexical Categories. Verbs, Nouns and Adjectives. Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge.

Boeckx, Cedric and Norbert Hornstein. 2006. The Virtues of Control as Movement.
Syntax, 9:2, pp. 118 - 130.

Den Dikken, Marcel. 1998. Predicate Inversion in DP. In Alexiadou, Artemis and
Chris Wilder (Eds.) Possessors, Predicates and Movement in the Determiner
Phrase, pp. 177 - 214, Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Davies, William D. and Stanley Dubinsky. 2006. The Place, Range and Taxonomy of
Control and Raising. Syntax 9:2, pp. 111 - 117.

Hale, Ken and Samuel Jay Keyser. 1993. On Argument Structure and the Lexical
Expression of Syntactic Relations. In Hale, Ken and Samuel J. Keyser (Eds.) The
View from Building 20. Essays in Linguistics in Honor of Sylvain Bromberger, The
MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., pp. 53 - 109.

Heim, Irene. 1982. The Semantics of Definite and Indefinite Noun Phrases. Ph.D.
dissertation, UMass, Amherst.

Hornstein, Norbert. 2001. Move! A Minimalist Theory of Construal. Oxford:

Hornstein, Norbert and Amy Weinberg. 1981. Case Theory and Preposition
Stranding. Linguistic Inquiry 12, pp. 55 - 91.

Kayne, Richard S. 1994. The Antisymmetry of Syntax. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Kayne, Richard S. 2003. Silent Years, Silent Hours. In Delsing, Lars-Olof,
Cecilia Falk, Gunlog Josefsson & Halldor A. Sigurdsson (Eds.) Grammar in Focus:
Festschrift for Christer Platzack, vol. 2. Lund: Wallin and Dalholm, pp. 209 -226.

Kayne, Richard S. 2007. Several, Few and Many. Lingua 117, pp. 832 - 858.

Kratzer, Angelika. 1998. More Structural Analogies between Pronouns and Tenses.
Proceedings of SALT VIII. CLC Publications, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Landau, Idan. 2006. Severing the Distribution of PRO from Case. Syntax 9:2, pp.
153 - 170.

Partee, Barbara. 1984. Nominal and Temporal Anaphora. Linguistics and Philosophy
7, pp. 243 - 286.

Sportiche, Dominique. 2005. Division of Labor between Merge and Move: Strict
Locality of Selection and Apparent Reconstruction Paradoxes, in Proceedings of
the Workshop Divisions of Linguistic Labor, The La Bretesche Workshop

Eugenia Romanova is a lecturer of linguistic disciplines at the Institute of International Relations, Yekaterinburg, Russia. Her PhD dissertation, written at the University of Tromsø, Norway, deals with the syntactic derivation of prefixed verbs in Russian. Her scientific interests lie in the domain of syntax and semantics of aspect and argument structure of Russian verbs.