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Review of  Romance Linguistics 2010


Reviewer: Andre Zampaulo
Book Title: Romance Linguistics 2010
Book Author: Julia Rogers Herschensohn
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
Language Documentation
Language Family(ies): Romance
Book Announcement: 23.2093

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Review:
EDITOR: Herschensohn, Julia
TITLE: Romance Linguistics 2010
SUBTITLE: Selected Papers from the 40th Linguistic Symposium on Romance
Languages (LSRL), Seattle, Washington
SERIES: Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 318
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2011

André Zampaulo, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, The Ohio State University

SUMMARY
The edited volume Romance Linguistics 2010 gathers a selection of papers
presented at the 40th Linguistics Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL XL)
hosted by the University of Washington in Seattle on March 26-28, 2010. After
the editor’s introduction and its first paper, “Theory and practice in Romance
Linguistics today: The importance of the annual LSRL,” by Jurgen Klausenburger,
the book presents eighteen papers organized in three parts: Morphophonology,
Syntax, and Semantic Interfaces.

In her introduction, Julia Herschensohn offers reflections on Romance linguistic
scholarship and provides an overview of the contents of the volume. For the
majority of the 19th and 20th centuries, Romance linguistics was identified with
diachronic studies, especially phonology and morphology. However, following the
advent of Chomskyan linguistics in the 1950s and the boom of generative studies
of the 1960s onward, the comparative nature of Romance linguistics expanded its
scope through other areas such as (morpho)syntax. It was in this environment
that the Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL) was created, holding
its first meeting at the University of Florida in 1971. Since then, the research
presented at this annual meeting has offered robust contributions to scholarship
not only on topics of diachronic change that go back to the 19th century, but
also on issues that occupy a central position within modern linguistic theory.
The papers in the current volume follow this tradition and cover a wide range of
diachronic and synchronic phenomena in languages ranging from as far East as
Romanian to as far West as Afro-Bolivian Spanish.

In the first chapter, Jurgen Klausenburger reflects upon the importance and
evolution of Romance linguistics as a discipline, since the five classic
scholars (or “giants”) of the field from the 19th century (François Raynouard,
Friedrich Diez, Gustav Gröber, Wilhelm Meyer-Lübke and Hugo Schuchardt) to its
current state and practice, culminating at each annual LSRL. Considering the
Romance linguist as a scholar whose primary interest centers on linguistics,
Klausenburger predicts that the field will continue to grow and use its vast
repository of diachronic and synchronic data in order to offer insights and its
contribution to modern linguistic theory.

In Part I, five papers on the morphophonology of Romanian, Galician, Spanish and
other varieties of Ibero-Romance are presented. Margaret E. L. Renwick
investigates the source of Romanian /ɨ/ (‘barred /i/’) in “On the origins of /ɨ/
in Romanian.” She provides a full diachronic account of this high central vowel
and argues that it split from central mid /ə/ in native words, while later
borrowings from Greek, Slavic and Turkish contributed to its phonemicization.
However, this vowel presents a very low type frequency in Modern Romanian, which
is corroborated by its high predictability before a nasal consonant.

In the third paper, “An acoustic investigation of nasal place neutralization in
Spanish: Default place assignment and phonetic underspecification,” Michael
Ramsammy analyzes the acoustic properties of place neutralized nasals in
Peninsular Spanish. His results support previous analyses indicating that
alveolarizing Spanish varieties neutralize word-final nasals to [CORONAL], while
velarizing dialects neutralize them to [DORSAL]. Preconsonantal nasal codas,
however, do not present categorical assimilation. Instead, Ramsammy’s
experimental results suggest that word-medial preconsonantal nasal codas should
be phonetically underspecified for place, which accounts for the great
variability and phonetic gradience observed in their realization across dialects
of Peninsular Spanish.

Christine Weissglass examines the realization of Spanish rhotics in the fourth
paper, “An acoustic study of rhotics in onset clusters in La Rioja.” The author
collected data from four subjects native to the region of La Rioja in northern
Spain and investigates the phonetic factors that shape the realization of
rhotics in initial consonant clusters, paying particular attention to cases of
assibilated pronunciations. Her results indicate that rhotics in this dialect
tend to have longer duration after voiced and velar consonants and the high
front vowel [i], while being shorter elsewhere. Contrary to previous claims of
assibilated rhotics in La Rioja Spanish, Weissglass finds very few instances of
such pronunciations and shows that the variety has approximants instead.

In the fifth paper, “Mid front vowel lowering before rhotics in Ibero-Romance,”
Travis G. Bradley explores the realization of /e/ before rhotic consonants in
five varieties of Ibero-Romance: Castilian Spanish, Aragonese, Astur-Leonese,
Judeo-Spanish and Central Catalan. Relying on acoustic and articulatory evidence
with an Optimality Theoretic analysis, Bradley proposes different rankings of
phonetically grounded constraints in order to account for the different patterns
of /e/-lowering in the aforementioned varieties.

The sixth paper also draws on Optimality Theory. In “Plural formation in
Galician,” Sonia Colina considers data from normative and dialectal Galician in
order to examine the allomorphic variation observed in plural formation for
consonant final words (i.e. words ending in nasal, lateral and rhotic
consonants). In Colina’s analysis, a ranked order of OT constraints grounded
both on phonetic and phonological patterns in Galician allows for the derivation
of plurals in the normative variety, while a reranking of such constraints
accounts for the variation attested in southern and eastern dialects.

Part II contains seven papers on syntactic aspects of Old and Modern French,
Peninsular and Afro-Bolivian Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese. In “On bare
subject relative clauses in Old French,” Deborah Arteaga presents an analysis of
restrictive relative clauses in Old French, such as ‘Car ne voi tertre nen soeit
rases’ (For I see no small hill (that) is not razed to the ground), which did
not contain the relative pronoun ‘qui.’ The author rejects considering such
examples cases of parataxis or juxtaposition of two independent clauses,
instead, adopting a Minimalist approach using the mechanisms of Merge, Agree,
Copy and Delete (Chomsky 2001) to account for bare subject relative clauses as
Inflectional Phrases (IPs) from which the subject has been removed, because of
identity with its antecedent in the main clause.

The eighth paper, “Directed motion in Medieval French,” by Michelle Troberg,
presents new data regarding directed motion verbs encoding path in Medieval
French. The author argues for a microparametric approach (as opposed to a
macroparametric approach) to account for the data, which reveals an interaction
between the lexical characteristics of verbs and those of prepositions during
small clause formation.

Edit Doron and Marie Labelle present an analysis of French “anti-causative” verb
constructions (e.g. (se) rougir, ‘to redden’) in the ninth paper, “An ergative
analysis of French valency alternations.” The authors propose that constructions
focused on the result (Res-AC), ‘se rougir,’ derive from the merge of ‘se’ under
an inactive Voice head, while constructions focused on the process (Proc-AC),
‘rougir,’ come from the use of active Voice with a v projection lacking a
specifier. Evidence from other languages such as Hebrew and Neo-Aramaic is also
provided in support of the analysis.

Spanish prenominal possessives (PNPs) are the subject of the tenth paper,
“Peninsular Spanish prenominal possessives in ellipsis contexts: A Phase-based
account,” by Luis Sáez. In Spanish, PNPs prohibit ellipsis of the head noun,
e.g. ‘los/*nuestros rojos’ (the/our red ones). The author then proposes that
PNPs arise from a genitive phrase that is external to the Determiner Phrase (DP)
and, thus, do not merge in D (Determiner), as it is possible in the cases of
ellipsis with definite articles.

Violeta Demonte, Héctor Fernández-Alcalde and Isabel Pérez-Jiménez contribute
the eleventh paper, “On the nature of nominal features: Agreement mismatches in
Spanish conjoined structures.” The authors examine unique constructions with
mismatched determiner agreement such as in ‘Un banquete y baile habían sido
anunciados’ (A banquet and ball had been announced). In order to account for the
agreement between the determiner and the first noun, and between the verb and
the plural conjoined Determiner Phrase, Demonte, Fernández-Alcalde and
Pérez-Jiménez propose the use of both concord and index features: while the
former determine Closest Conjunct Agreement in the Determiner, the latter calls
for the higher conjoined Determiner Phrase (i.e. plural) to account for verb
agreement.

In the volume’s twelfth paper, “On the nature of bare nouns in Afro-Bolivian
Spanish,” Javier Gutiérrez-Rexach and Sandro Sessarego explore the features of
definite, indefinite and bare nouns in the Spanish variety spoken by
African-Bolivians. The authors’ analysis of both generic and specific DPs in
this dialect contradicts the predictions of Chierchia’s (1998) Nominal Mapping
Parameter, thus warranting an alternative account that incorporates a concealed
determiner to allow for its attested range of interpretations.

In the last paper of Part II, “Negative imperatives in Portuguese and other
Romance languages,” Rerisson Cavalcante examines the mismatch between true
imperatives and preverbal negation, especially in Brazilian Portuguese (BP).
Unlike other Romance languages, BP displays no true imperatives, as it does not
present a clear distribution between negative and affirmative imperative verb
forms, and both indicative and subjunctive may be used when forming either
imperative. Cavalcante accounts for this by claiming that in BP an imperative
morpheme is not required to merge in the Complementizer (C) that is adjacent
with a given verb, which is the case in European Romance.

Part III features six papers regarding semantic interfaces. While the first
paper focuses on Italian, the remaining five represent important contributions
to the linguistic study of Romanian.

In “Another look at Italian generic sentences,” Alda Mari analyzes Italian
indefinite singular and definite plural generic statements. In order to account
for the differences in interpretation between the two, the author proposes a
covert abilitative model for the indefinite singular, which is associated with
imperfective and intensional characteristics. As for the definite plural, Mari
confers it variable status, associated with perfective and accidental features.

The last five papers focus on Romanian. Blanca Croitor and Carmen Dobrovie-Sorin
contribute “The agreement of collective DPs in Romanian”, analyzing the optional
plural agreement of the verb with collective Determiner Phrase (DP) subjects in
Romanian when a partitive quantifier, e.g. ‘o parte din’ (part of) modifies
them. Following Higginbotham’s (1994) proposal of mass and plural
Determiner-quantifiers, they claim that quantification is set under amounts of
minimal parts, which represent atomic entities in collective nouns. The use of
partitive quantifiers, thus, changes the semantics of a noun denoting entity
into a sum of several minimal parts denoting entity.

In the sixteenth paper, “A multidominance account for conjoined questions in
Romanian,” Dafina Ratiu examines conjoined questions such as ‘who and what
bought’ in Romanian. The author analyzes these types of questions with a
biclausal (instead of a monoclausal) account in which one single and shared
Inflectional Phrase (IP) is pronounced.

Ion Giurgea centers his analysis on Romanian pronouns, auxiliaries, mood
particles, negation and adverbs (clitics) in his paper “The Romanian verbal
cluster and the theory of head movement.” His principal contribution lies in
putting forth an explanation of the unusual head order patterns of such Romanian
clitics, which do not fit in the general typological rule of morphological
linearization.

In the penultimate paper, “New challenges in the area of semantic dependencies:
The Romanian epistemic constraint,” Anamaria Fǎlǎus examines the variation found
in semantically dependent indefinites, centering her analysis on the special
status of Romanian determiner ‘vreunʼ (some, any). She adopts Chierchia’s (2006)
approach on polarity-sensitivity in order to put forth her account, arguing that
the occurrence of ‘vreun’ in intensional contexts is contingent upon epistemic
alternatives and their contribution to sentence meaning.

Donka F. Farkas discusses polarity particles such as yes/da and no/nu in the
final paper of the volume, “Polarity particles in English and Romanian.” Farkas
argues that such particles depend upon a topic proposition generated by their
antecedent in order to be considered as appropriate responses to polar
questions, assertions and imperatives. She further compares Romanian and English
regarding the distribution of these particles in reactions to imperative forms,
both in morphological and pragmatic terms.
EVALUATION
Romance Linguistics 2010 faithfully represents the kind of research being
conducted in the field of Romance linguistics nowadays and unfolding annually in
LSRL meetings. It depicts an active area of linguistic investigation using its
wealth of data to advance modern linguistic theory. The nineteen papers gathered
in the present volume present new scholarship not only on topics of diachronic
change, but also on synchronic issues of languages from the geographical ends of
the Romance territory. Moreover, the book maintains the tradition of the LSRL
meetings since 1971 by gathering works on multiple languages and subfields. As
outlined by Jurgen Klausenburger in his ‘state-of-the-discipline’ introductory
article, the chief concern of Romance linguists is to advance linguistics, which
is precisely what the contributors in this edited volume achieve with their
papers.

Work in other subfields such as sociolinguistics and pragmatics would have been
welcome and enriched the book’s generative orientation, complementing insights
of other theoretical frameworks. Nevertheless, the volume maintains five-star
quality not only with works on well-studied languages such as French and
Spanish, but also with the inclusion of less-commonly studied varieties such as
Afro-Bolivian Spanish and a third of the papers on Romanian linguistics, which
sets it apart from previous LSRL volumes. The contributions in Romance
Linguistics 2010 work in unison and mirror Klausenburger’s description of the
field. They reveal a growing area of research in which diachronic and synchronic
data abound and provide one of the best laboratories for testing new theoretical
insights. For covering a wide range of topics and keeping the high standard
outcome of an annual LSRL meeting, it earns its place in every Romance
linguist’s library.

REFERENCES
Chierchia, Gennaro. 1998. Reference to kinds across languages. Natural Language
Semantics 6:339-405.

Chierchia, Gennaro. 2006. Broaden your views. Implicatures of domain widening
and spontaneous logicality of language. Linguistic Inquiry 37:535-590.

Chomsky, Noam. 2001. Derivation by phase. In M. Kenstowicz (ed.), Ken Hale: A
life in language, 1-52. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Higginbotham, James. 1994. Mass and count quantifiers. Linguistics and
Philosophy 17:447-480.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER
 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
André Zampaulo is a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish and Portuguese Linguistics at The Ohio State University specializing in phonetics & phonology and language change, with a particular interest in the evolutionary pathways of the Spanish and Portuguese sound systems. He expects to defend his dissertation on the evolution of palatal consonants in those languages by Spring 2013.