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Review of  Current Trends in Caucasian, East European and Inner Asian Linguistics

Reviewer: Elena Bashir
Book Title: Current Trends in Caucasian, East European and Inner Asian Linguistics
Book Author: Dee Ann Holisky Kevin J. Tuite
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
Language Family(ies): Altaic
Slavic Subgroup
Book Announcement: 15.1937

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Date: Sun, 27 Jun 2004 06:02:11 -0500
From: Elena Bashir
Subject: Current Trends in Caucasian, East European and Inner Asian Linguistics

EDITORS: Holisky, Dee Ann; Tuite, Kevin
TITLE: Current Trends in Caucasian, East European and Inner Asian
SUBTITLE: Papers in Honor of Howard I. Aronson
SERIES: Current Trends in Linguistic Theory 246
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins Publishing Company
YEAR: 2003

Elena Bashir, Dept. of South Asian Languages and Civilizations,
The University of Chicago.

This volume consists of seventeen specialized papers presented at the tenth (and last) conference on Non-Slavic languages of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic Republics, held at the University of Chicago in May, 1997. The valuable introduction by Kevin Tuite groups the papers by language group. Brief notes on the papers follow, following Tuite's grouping.

1. Languages of the Caucasus
1.1 Nakh-Daghestanian (Northeast Caucasian)
1.1.1 Johanna Nichols, ''The Nakh-Daghestanian consonant correspondences'' (58 pp.) This paper is part of the project of reconstructing Proto-Nakh Daghestanian (PND); its immediate purpose is to clarify the relation between Nakh and Daghestanian using accepted N-D cognate sets and without attempting to maximize resemblances to NW Caucasian. Appendix 1 includes eight tables of N and D consonant
correspondences classified by articulation type. Appendix 2 includes 50 firm N-D cognate sets. The paper concludes that Proto Daghestanian split from PND not long after the split of Nakh, and that PND quickly split into five major branches. For Nichols, the spread pattern points to possible significant cultural innovations enabling the rapid spread of the language
through the southeast Caucasus.

1.1.2 Wolfgang Schulze, ''The diachrony of demonstrative pronouns in East Caucasian'' (58 pp.) This paper is a detailed survey of the history of the pronominal systems with regard to the extent to which reconstruction of the demonstrative pronominal system of Proto-East Caucasian (PEC) is possible. The paper concludes that the systems in individual languages
represent the systems of their individual proto-languages fairly closely, but that the paradigm of PEC is much more distant, indicating that divergence from PEC itself gave rise to more changes than arose from later divergence from intermediate stages. Several factors complicating the analysis of demonstrative pronominal systems are discussed: (i) Grammaticization paths of demonstrative pronouns are not fully understood. (ii) Sometimes phonaesthetic relationships obtain between form and meaning; thus sometimes the phonetic makeup of the demonstrative pronouns differs from the canonical phonotactics of the lexicon. (iii) There is high synchronic and diachronic variability, with short-lived paradigms, such that only the central paradigmatic parts have a stable history. (iv) Phonemes for demonstrative pronouns do not seem to conform to the general sound laws for a given language. (v) Demonstrative pronouns are subject to semantic or functional change. (vi) Single paradigms of demonstrative pronouns can become mixed in later stages. Another generalization that emerges is that the now Northern languages have undergone less structural change than the now Southern languages, possibly because of differing degrees of substratum influence.

1.1.3 Victor Friedman, ''Lak folktales: materials for a bilingual reader, Part II'' (10 pp.) This article consists of a brief introduction to Lak, a Daghestanian language, followed by a short folktale in Cyrillic script with morphemic transliteration, morph by morph gloss with grammatical markers, free English translation, and vocabulary. The article is the second part of Friedman's ongoing work on making Lak texts accessible for study.

1.1.4 Zev Handel, ''Ingush inflectional verb morphology: a synchronic classification and historical analysis with comparison to Chechen'' (54 pp.) After an analytical overview of Ingush verb inflections, the paper discusses the historical evolution of the Ingush verbal system, then presents a
comparative study of Ingush and Chechen verb paradigms. The Ingush verb system is based on three stems: infinitive, present (imperfective), and past (perfective). All Ingush verbs fall into one of eleven classes, of which Class 1 comprises 25% of the total of 272 simple verbs in the Ingush database. There is also a (marked) iterative-(unmarked) simulfactive aspectual opposition, which may be either morphological or lexical. Three of the Ingush verb tenses are formed historically from a combination of converbs and the verb 'be', with differing degrees of fusion. A change from a process of umlaut to one of ablaut is postulated and compared with Chechen, in which umlaut is still relatively transparent. Based on entries in the Ingush lexical database, the author has identified 261 cognate sets and grouped them, facilitating setting up of correspondence sets between Chechen and Ingush verb types, which display considerable regularity. Phonemic correspondences are less transparent, largely due to developments in Ingush. The final part of the chapter details these changes.

1.1.5 Alice Harris, ''The prehistory of Udi locative cases and locative preverbs'' (24 pp.) Using Georgian sources on Udi (Lezgian subgroup of NEC), Harris re-analyzes the Udi data and proposes some Udi reflexes of Proto-Lezgian consonants which in some cases differ from those of earlier scholars, notably Alekseev. Data from Tabarasan are used to illustrate the system of locative cases in the Lezgian subgroup in general. The paper is presented as an effort toward achieving a firmer reconstruction of Proto-Lezgian locative cases and preverbs.

1.1.6 Maria Polinsky and Bernard Comrie, ''Constraints on reflexivization in Tsez'' (26 pp.) This paper describes two types of compound reflexives, both of which consist of two pronominal forms. In type 1 the first word is invariably in its ergative form, while the case of the second varies. In type
2 the first word shows case variation, while the second is invariably absolutive. These two types are discussed with reference to reflexive status, antecedent status, and locality conditions. Forms with the enclitic -tow, sometimes analyzed as a reflexive, are here argued to have a general function of marking an unexpected association between the referent and the proposition.

1.2 Kartvelian
1.2.1 Shukia Apridonidze, ''On the syntax of possessive reflexive pronouns in modern Georgian and certain Indo-European languages'' (6 pp.) Georgian has both personal (pronominal) and possessive (adjectival) reflexives, both based on the root tav- 'head'. However the tav- forms are used consistently as reflexive adjectives for all three persons (only?) in the northeastern Georgian dialects (p. 26). The paper compares the Georgian system of possessive reflexives with those of German, Russian, and English.

1.2.2 Marcello Cherchi, ''How many verb classes are there in Mingrelian?'' (11 pp.) This paper argues that in Mingrelian, a sister of Georgian, establishing a fourfold verb class system such as that of Georgian presented by Aronson, Harris, Tuite, and Holisky, does not seem valid. Cherchi suggests that Class 4 verbs are not formally distinguishable from Class 2 verbs in Mingrelian, and that Mingrelian is better considered as having three classes.

1.2.3 Thomas Gamkrelidze, ''Typology of writing, Greek alphabet and the origins of alphabetic scripts of the Christian orient'' (12 pp.) This paper discusses the writing systems of Classical Greek, Coptic, Gothic, Classical Armenian, Old Georgian, and Old Slavonic within the framework of the general theory of sign systems (semiotics). Taking the Greek writing system as the base for these systems, Gamkrelidze discusses, among other things, the degree to which the descendent systems have distanced themselves from the original system. Gamkrelidze notes that the Georgian
system has remained closer to a consistently alphabetic system because of its phonetic conservatism.

1.2.4 Kora Singer, ''On double dative constructions in Georgian'' (14 pp.) In this paper, Singer discusses (a rare type of) sentence in which two datives appear, both of which can be considered to be indirect objects. There are two types of dative markers, u-series and h-series, which can normally co-occur only with each other, not with themselves; i.e. a u-series marker can co-occur with an h-series marker, but not with another u-series
marker. With verbs that can take either an alienably or inalienably possessed direct object, the h-dative tends to mark the inalienable possessor, and the u-dative the alienable possessor. Also, the dative argument that is indexed on the verb is higher on the person/animacy hierarchy than the second dative.

1.2.5 Kevin Tuite, ''Kartvelian series markers'' (30 pp.) Tuite's closely argued article discusses the (numerous) suffixal markers of the three series (Series I, linear/durative; Series II, punctiliar; and Series III, resultative) which are found in all Kartvelian languages. The discussion treats the divergence and restructuring of the Aktionsart class and semantics associations of series marking suffixes deriving ultimately from two sets of Proto-Kartvelian morphemes--those marking stative/resultative
aspect and those with an antipassivizing function. The problem of explaining the ramifications of antipassivization remains an important puzzle.

1.3 Abkhaz-Adyghean (Northwest Caucasian) and Indo-European.John Colarusso, ''More Pontic: Further etymologies between Indo-European and Northwest Caucasian (20 pp.) Beginning by citing work by Eric Hamp analyzing the word for 'horse' as the e-grade of the stem for 'swift', Colarusso furthers his previously proposed Pontic hypothesis, i.e. the idea that Indo-European and Northwest Caucasian are related at the phylum level. He offers arguments based on developments from (reconstructed) Pontic roots for 'bend', yielding words for 'fish' ('the undulating one'), 'kite' ('the gyrating one'), and 'snake' ('the coiling one'). The root for 'bend' also yields the IE forms for 'elbow' and 'forearm'. Several other etyma,
including those for 'to drive', yielding words for 'goat', 'to pasture' yielding words for 'sheep', and 'to breed', yielding words for 'swine', are offered as further support for the Pontic hypothesis.

2. Siberian indigenous languages
2.1 Gregory Anderson, ''Towards a phonological typology of native Siberia'' (22 pp.) Anderson's paper examines nasal consonants in the approximately three dozen languages of the native Siberian macro-area. The phenomena focussed on are a four-way place contrast of nasals--labial, dental/alveolar, palatal, and velar--and the appearance of the velar nasal in word-initial position. The four-way contrast is found to be stable (and original) in some groups of the Siberian languages, while in others it is more marginal and judged to be a secondary (contact-influenced) development. The article discusses individually those languages in which: the four-way contrast is stable; the contrast may not be original; and those in which the contrast was old but has been lost or restructured. A similar analysis is done for the initial velar nasal, discussing languages in which the contrast is original, those in which it is secondary, and those in which
the velar nasal is restricted in word-initial position. The distributional patterns of these groups of features are presented and possible areal influences suggested.

2.2 Lenore Grenoble and Lindsay Whaley, ''The case for dialect continua in Tungusic: Plural morphology'' (26 pp.) This paper argues for a ''bottom-up'' approach to classifying language varieties which have inherently fuzzy boundaries, rather than a cladistic approach. In this approach, variation is best represented as sets of interacting continua rather than as sharply defined isoglosses. Plural morphology in Tungusic is treated as a case study in the value of this approach. Importantly, in the Tungusic case (possibly as a result of nomadic life styles) there is no isomorphic relation between dialect continua and geographic distribution. Distribution of
the plural markers -l (original Proto-Tungusic plural marker) and its allomorph -r, -sal (originally a collective marker thought to originate from a compounding of the plural marker -l with a collectivizing suffix -sa), and zero is examined. In some languages one marker dominates, while others are transitional. The authors conclude that plural markers provide evidence that language-dialect divisions in Tungusic will depend on which features are selected as key for classification.

2.3 K. David Harrison and Abigail R. Kaun, ''Vowels and vowel harmony in Namangan Tatar'' (14 pp.) Data on the vowels of a previously undocumented variety of Tatar spoken in Namangan (Uzbekistan), and considered to be a variety of Standard Literary Tatar, are presented. The authors find nine distinct vowel qualities: front -round (high, mid, low); front +round (high, mid); back -round (mid, low); back +round (high, mid). Tatar in general has backness and roundness harmony. In Namangan Tatar the authors find that backness harmony is ''abstract'' in the sense that phonetically central vowels participate in front-back phonological alternations that are apparently not phonetically motivated. Rounding harmony in Namangan Tatar is restricted to a small set of allomorphs, i.e. the vowel of the causative affix, -Dor-, which is underlyingly mid, front, unrounded. This rounding is conditioned by a same-height sensitivity. Namangan Tatar's rounding harmony is unusual in that it is both morphologically and phonologically determined.

2.4 Edward Vajda, ''Tone and phoneme in Ket'' (25 pp.) Vajda's article discusses the phonemic tone system of Southern Imbat Ket, the Ket dialect with the largest number of remaining native speakers and the one now being used for teaching materials in Ket schools. The language has four monosyllabic and two disyllabic pitch patterns. Monosyllabic: (1) high, d(2) glottalized, (3) monosyllabic rising/falling, (4) falling. Disyllabic: (5) disyllabic rising/falling, (6) rising/high-falling.

Each of these is discussed and illustrated separately. Vajda considers that there are seven basic vowel phonemes,in contrast to earlier analyses which postulate numerous vowel phonemes. The interactions of tone patterns and exactphonetic realizations of the seven basic vowels are discussed in section 2. In polysyllable words section 3) (differences between the four monosyllabic tones generally disappear, and the disyllabic pitch contours appear. Section 4 discusses phonological phrases including compounds and finite verb forms. Vajda concludes by suggesting that the two disyllabic tones function as positional variants of
the four monosyllabic tones, yielding a single system of four tonemes applicable to all phonological words. He further stresses the importance of prosodic phonological evidence for the diachronic study of the Yeneseic languages.

3. Slavic
Donald Dyer, ''The Bulgarians of Moldova and their language'' (14 pp.) Southeastern Bulgarian dialects are spoken in the Moldovan cities of Taraclia, Ciadir-Lunga, and Valea Perjei. Dyer's paper discusses the phonology and morphology of these dialects, especially in comparison to Standard Bulgarian. Six processes involving the vocalic system are identified and illustrated: 1) fronting of unstressed [ju] (delabialization), 2) backing of unstressed [i] (labialization), 3) fronting of u], 4) depalatalization of front vowels, 5) unstressed vowel elision, 6) vowel epenthesis. Morphological divergences from Standard Bulgarian include gender class
confusion resulting from vowel elision and/or lengthening, the development of a masculine definite article form <-oh>, and a fourth verbal conjugation.

This collection of data-rich and in some cases highly analytical and closely argued papers will be an essential volume in the libraries of Caucasian specialists, since twelve of the seventeen papers are by foremost scholars in the field of Caucasian linguistics. The articles on languages of Native
Siberia, both in their relatively small number and in the picture they present of (imminent) language loss in Siberia, underscore the urgent need for more field research on these languages.
Elena Bashir currently teaches Urdu, Panjabi, and regional languages and literatures of Pakistan at the University of Chicago. Her research is on the languges of Pakistan, mainly those of the north(western) part of the country. Her dissertation (1988, Michigan) is on the Kalasha language and current work continues on a reference grammar of Khowar. She has also worked on Wakhi, Brahui, Balochi, Burushaski, and Pashto.