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Review of  The Second Glot International State-of-the-Article Book


Reviewer: Larry L. LaFond
Book Title: The Second Glot International State-of-the-Article Book
Book Author: Lisa Lai-Shen Cheng Rint Sybesma
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Phonology
Semantics
Syntax
Book Announcement: 16.23

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Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 14:08:25 -0600
From: Larry LaFond <llafond@siue.edu>
Subject: The Second Glot International State-of-the-Article Book

EDITORS: Cheng, Lisa; Sybesma, Rint
TITLE: The Second Glot International State-of-the-Article Book
SUBTITLE: The Latest in Linguistics
SERIES: Studies in Generative Grammar 61
PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter
YEAR: 2002

Larry L. LaFond, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

INTRODUCTION

This volume brings together fifteen articles that provide an overview of
some of the most important linguistic developments during the last decade.
The intent of each paper is to capture the prominent themes and issues
related to its area of focus, describe progress that has been made,
indicate questions still to be answered, and supply an extensive
bibliography for those interested in further study. Earlier versions of
each of the papers in this volume appeared in GLOT INTERNATIONAL as 'State-
of-the-Article' contributions, although each of those earlier versions
were updated and revised to include further developments since the time of
their original publication. The papers in this volume assume a generative
perspective and focus on semantics and syntax, though a few papers are
also included that relate to phonology, morphology and first language
development. The papers stand on their own, without any introduction or
framing by the editors.

SYNOPSIS

Lightfoot's 'The development of grammars' opens the series of articles.
Lightfoot first considers the nature of the experience that triggers the
development of grammars in children, discussing several recent error-
driven models (where learners converge on a grammar that matches up with
environmental input, within a space defined by UG) and how cue-based
theories differ from those input matching models. Lightfoot then looks at
extensions of the cue-based acquisition approach to diachronic change in
grammars. In the process, he argues for cue-based approaches to
acquisition and against lexicalist theories of grammar, an independent
theory of change, and the incorporation of historicist elements into UG.

Two papers on semantics follow Lightfoot's paper: Authier's 'Semantics and
the Generative Enterprise' and Portner's 'The semantics of Mood.' Authier,
through an examination of quantifier scope, bare output conditions, and
the mapping from LF to logical representations, argues against the notion
that generative grammar has little to say about meaning-related phenomena.
Authier suggests that while the range of semantic phenomena that have been
examined within a generative framework only partially overlaps with the
concerns of model-theoretic semanticists, the phenomena which have been
studied have yielded important issues and conditions for interpretation,
enough so that a more clearly articulated theory of the syntax-semantics
interface is needed. Portner discusses the core phenomenon of mood as
viewed within traditional grammar and then expands the discussion to other
senses of the term. He outlines some of the central data that research on
mood has attempted to address: the distribution of mood in root clauses,
the distribution of subjunctives in embedded clauses, and embedded
indicatives. He then outlines the major differences between theoretical
analyses and concludes with a summary of future directions.

Portner is followed by de Swart's 'Three approaches to discourse and
donkey anaphora' and a second paper related to quantifiers,
Bobaljik's 'Floating quantifiers: Handle with care.' De Swart compares
the option of saying that the anaphoric pronoun in donkey anaphora cannot
be interpreted in terms of regular coreference or binding with two other
options: one, that interprets indefinite NPs as variables and use
unselective binding to allow them to be bound by other quantifiers in the
discourse, and another, that views the licensing problem as a problem
with the definition of the binding domain. Bobaljik's discussion provides
historical perspective on floating quantifiers up through the 1980s as a
background to discussing work done since then on stranding and the
semantics of floating quantifiers. Bobaljik concludes that caution should
be used in regarding floating quantifiers as tests for underlying
constituent structure, but that they are connected to predication and that
their distribution is attributable to movement and/or binding.

Carlson's 'No lack of determination,' de Hoop's 'Partitivity', and
Szabolcsi and den Dikken's 'Islands' present additional areas of syntactic
and semantic interfaces. Carlson focuses on interpretations of Bare
Plurals, looking specifically at the question of whether Bare Plurals have
a single, unified meaning (one which appears to be different in different
contexts), or whether they have more than one unified meaning. Carlson
concludes that general agreement exists that existential and generic
readings of Bare Plurals should find some commonality in analysis, and
that specificity and scope are important issues for indefinite readings.
Beyond this, however, Carlson sees a 'bewildering variety of proposals'
related to the source of existential quantification in some Bare Plurals.
Partitive elements also make certain sets or entities accessible for
quantification; so argues de Hoop in her article which describes the
similarities between different types of partitivity. De Hoop sees a
distinction between ordinary partitives (where quantification involves
restricted or contextually bound sets) and pseudo-partitives, faded
partitives, and partitive Case (where the set available for quantification
is unrestricted or unbounded.) Finally, Szabolcsi and den Dikken's
article on 'Islands' presents a brief discussion of strong islands and a
more extensive discussion of weak islands, highlighting how the advent of
Relativized Minimality has affected theories in this area. The authors
believe that many island conditions are semantic in nature and that the
semantic approaches that currently hold the most promises are algebraic
and dynamic versions of Scope Theory.

Four papers on syntax, albeit from widely different perspectives follow.
The first, Progovac's 'Structure for coordination' divides nicely into
three parts: a section introducing coordination data, one that surveys
analyses of coordination that do not treat conjunctions as heads of
conjunction phrases, and one that surveys analyses that do. Progovac
concludes that conjunctions are functional heads of Coordination Phrases,
that in VO languages the first conjunct stands structurally apart from the
rest of the Coordination Phrase, and that the conjunction and the non-
initial conjuncts form a structural unit. Müller's 'Optionality in
optimality-theoretic syntax' takes on a perplexing issue for most
syntactic theories: syntactic optionality. In the process, Müller not
only succeeds in showing various optimality-theoretic approaches to
optionality (pseudo-optionality, ordered global or local ties, conjunctive
or disjunctive ties, neutralization, etc.), but also provides a
description of optimality-theoretic approaches to syntax as well as what
challenges optionality continues to pose for those working within this
framework. Rosen's 'The syntactic representation of linguistic events'
discusses differing approaches to representing the relationship between
events in the world and how these events become encoded in language.
Rosen's paper summarizes a large body of research aimed at event
classification, discusses three main theoretical approaches to event
representation -- lexical, semantic, syntactic -- and then indicates major
unanswered questions for this field. Rosen concludes that events are
represented, in some way, in all three of the above components of the
grammar, but that relationship between the components has yet to be
successfully explained.

Manzini's 'Syntactic approaches to cliticization,' serves as the final
syntax-related paper and the first of three papers related to phonological
theory, and as bridge between the two fields. Although clitics are a
prosodic conception, the survey provided by Manzini adopts a syntactic
perspective. Beginning with Kayne's (1975) view of cliticization as a
movement rule, Manzini then reviews developments in the 70s and 80s, and
later analyses of clitics as inflectional heads, concluding that the
current need is for a clear structural map of clitic positions and the
parameters that account for them. Manzini also includes a discussion of
morphological and prosodic treatments of clitics.

Two final papers on phonology, Rice's 'Featural markedness in phonology:
variation' and van Oostendorp's 'Schwa in phonological theory' deal,
respectively, with general and specific phonological issues. Rice queries
how 'markedness' might be defined and what role markedness plays in a
phonological system. Rice discusses feature specification and feature
classes, phonological diagnostics for markedness, variation in markedness
(related to position, inventories, contrast, and phonetic space), and
traditional diagnostics for markedness, frequency and implication. Rice
also includes a section which nicely exemplifies markedness in structural
theories, Optimality Theory, and phonetic cue-based theories. A more
specific issue is taken up by van Oostendorp's article that considers
schwa as an excellent test case for phonological theories. Three types of
schwa are defined and considered by van Oostendorp: one alternating with
zero (epenthetic-schwa), one alternating with a full vowel (reduction-
schwa), and a 'rest' case (stable-schwa). Van Oostendorp discusses the
representation and behavior of each of these schwas, concluding that a
fully developed theory of syllable structure, metrical structure,
segmental structure and the relationship between these parts is still
needed.

Harley and Noyer's 'Distributed Morphology' is the final contribution of
the book. A few of the earlier articles included brief discussion of
interfaces between morphology and other components of grammar, but this
article is the only one focused specifically on morphosyntax. Throughout
their paper, Harley and Noyer provide some review of the substantial body
of literature that has arisen since Distributed Morphology (Halle and
Marantz 1993) made its appearance in the early 1990s, however they
concentrate their efforts on a presentation of Distributed Morphology's
theoretical assumptions, its architecture, and illustrations of its
implementation. They attempt to show Distributed Morphology's
contributions to grammatical theory and provide a solid introduction to
the work that is going on within Distributed Morphology. Harley and Noyer
suggest that, going forward, the most important issues for this theory of
grammar will relate to a reassessment of the inventory and bases for
syntactic categories, a clearer description of universal morphosyntactic
features, and a number of remaining questions related to Distributed
Morphology's novel operations: impoverishment, fission, and morphological
merger.

EVALUATION

Any volume which purports to review the most important achievements of the
past decade will be subject to criticism by those who disagree with its
conceptualization of what the most important issues or most pressing
research questions are. The last decade has seen significant work done in
a great number of linguistic areas that do not find their way into this
volume on the 'latest in linguistics.' This is, perhaps, a forgivable
transgression, given that no single volume could be expected to cover the
full breadth of linguistic issues during an era, and particularly given
that the focus of this series is on generative approaches to grammar.
Nevertheless, one might reasonably expect a more extensive discussion of
minimalism, generative approaches to second language acquisition, recent
developments in construction grammar, or the inclusion of a broader range
of issues that arise within generative grammar. Future volumes of this
nature could consider the possibility of not including multiple articles
on semantics, phonology, or any other single area of linguistics, if the
presence of multiple articles on a single area comes only at the expense
of exclusion of a broader range of current topics in linguistics. That
the current volume leans most heavily towards semantics and interfaces
between semantics and syntax will satisfy only a particular readership.

It is an interesting feature of the book that there is no introduction or
preview to frame the articles, no biographical information given about the
authors, few acknowledgements, and virtually no foot or endnotes. Some
might view these as failings, but presented as it is, the book gives the
sense of presenting just the ideas, the questions, and references in an
uncluttered and useful way. I found it particularly useful that some
authors (for example, Bobaljik, Harley and Noyer) separated the specific
bibliography for their area of focus from other references that happened
to be mentioned in their papers. This provides a solid, targeted reading
list for students or researchers working within the area of interest.

Some of the papers are more successful than others in helping non-
specialists get a feel for the kind of work that is being done in a
specific area. For example, the papers by Lightfoot, Portner, Müller, and
Rice provide excellent, readable introductions to the issues in their
respective fields. I would not hesitate to steer students to these papers
to get a broad introduction to those research areas. Some of the other
papers, while still very complete in presenting current issues, are less
accessible to those who have not had formal training in that area. For
example, fully understanding de Swart's discussion of dynamic binding
requires more than a rudimentary knowledge of propositional logic.
Nevertheless, the bibliographies at the end of each of the articles make
the volume invaluable, in fact, this feature alone makes the book useful
for researchers and graduate students exploring the issues raised in this
volume.

In general, this book provides a good overview of the state of (some
areas) of linguistic inquiry at the start of this millennium. Readers
will encounter interesting findings and ample evidence that linguistic
research during the last decade has uncovered many of the questions yet to
be answered. As nearly all of the authors in this volume point out, there
is a still a need to delve more deeply into the host of unanswered
questions. Each article here, probably appropriately, succeeds in being
more a call to future work than a solution to a current problem.

REFERENCES

Halle, M and H. Marantz. (1993). Distributed Morphology and the pieces of
inflection. In: The View from the Building 20, K. Hale and S. J. Keyser
(eds.), 111-176. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Kayne, R. (1975). French Syntax: The transformational cycle. Cambridge:
MIT Press.




 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER


Larry LaFond holds an MA in Applied Linguistics from Old Dominion
University and a Ph.D in Linguistics from the University of South
Carolina. He is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Southern
Illinois University Edwardsville. His current research interests include
interactions between discourse and syntax in L2 learning and the second
language acquisition of motion events in English.


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