Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2005 12:38:10 +0900 From: Guido Oebel Subject: Deutsche Wortbildung in Grundzügen
AUTHOR: Motsch, Wolfgang TITLE: Deutsche Wortbildung in Grundzügen SUBTITLE: 2. überarbeitete Auflage SERIES: Schriften des Instituts für deutsche Sprache 8 PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter YEAR: 2004
Guido Oebel, Saga (Faculty of Culture & Education) and Kurume University (Institute of Foreign Language Education) Western Japan
The publisher's announcement of this book states that it "describes the most important patterns for the analysis and creation of German derivations and compounds. Word formation patterns are viewed as rules belonging to the lexicon of a language that include all the systematic syntactic, semantic morphological and phonological information necessary for using complex words. The focus is on semantic patterns, which describe the possibilities of the semantic change of primary words from derivations and compounds."
Motsch's second revised version of his book first published in 1999 still differs essentially from other treatments of word formation through its strictly lexical approach and emphasis on the semantic bases of regularities. The author stresses particularly the considerably restricted possibility of formulating strict rules and reliable predictions on possible word formations. As Motsch himself considers this fact as manifesting inherent word characteristics rather than the weakness of linguistic analysis, he claims that his analysis has been carried out as precisely as possible.
Motsch acknowledges that the description in this book borrows from other significant works dealing with German word formation, such as The German Word Formation of the Innsbruck Research Centre affiliated with the Institute for the German Language (Institut für Deutsche Sprache) and from Fleischer and Barz (1992). Motsch deliberately refrains from discussing different approaches of description in order to keep his main goal, the description of patterns in word formation, from being unnecessarily overloaded. However, at the end of each chapter, he provides references to related works dealing with word formation. The four descriptive chapters are followed by a bibliography, an index, and a list of the most essential elementary predicates.
Chapter 1 constitutes a synopsis of the theoretical outlines, while the following three main chapters deal with the formation of verbs, adjectives and nouns. Despite their parallel organisation, the part-of-speech specifications are clearly distinguished. First each part-of-speech is characterized both semantically and grammatically, corresponding to those features of importance for morphology, e.g., the semantic categorisation of nouns, the syntax of adjectives, and the separability or inseparability of complex verbs. After that comes a detailed description of patterns with illustrating examples and a synopsis of the respective word formation patterns, along with, as mentioned above, a brief selection of related references.
Patterns are formulated on two different levels: first Motsch establishes semantic patterns of e.g., the adjective, applying: - transformations ('Umkategorisierungen': from noun to adjective, 177-183; from verb to adjective, 183-190; from adverb to adjective, 190-192; from adjective to phrasal adjective, 193-195), - relations to objects, so-called denominal adjectives ('Relationen zu Gegenständen', 'denominale Adjektive', 195-200), - modification of deadjectival adjectives and adjectival compounds ('Modifikation deadjektivischer Adjektive und Adjektivkomposita', 269-287), - word negation (287-295), and relations to events, so-called deverbal adjectives ('Relationen zu Geschehen', 'deverbale Adjektive', 295-307) (cf. Barz 2001: 55).
These semantic patterns are described as predicate-argument-structures of which their structural-morphological specificity as derivates, e.g. 'bar'- adjectives such as 'ess-bar' (ed-ible) and 'wasch-bar' (wash-able) or compounds, e.g. 'fähig'-adjectives such as 'regierung-s-fähig' (able to govern) and 'arbeitsfähig' (able/fit to work), is part of the morphological analysis of the respective pattern. Motsch completes the patterns under review by giving further details regarding the semantics of the basic adjectives analysed, the gradability and syntactic usage of word formation products (whereas words other than adjectives are dealt with corresponding to their specific grammar), syntactic alternative expressions as paraphrases, and the patterns' level of activity (inactive, weakly active, strongly active). Particularly worth mentioning is Motsch's analysis of so-called elatives such as 'stinkreich' (stinking rich) and 'funkelnagelneu' (brand-new) (pp. 279-285) which too often have not or only peripherally been considered in other books on German morphology (cf. Pittner 2000: 166).
The most obvious strong point of Motsch's book is that the author not only succeeds in a theoretically profound description of the morphological patterns of contemporary German but also adheres to a solid empirical foundation. Motsch's pattern description is mainly founded on analysing scientifically sanctioned text corpora. All in all, the author's attempt to describe German morphological patterns has been well accomplished. The target readership may be found among those interested in the interface between syntax and semantics or in what role word formation patterns play within the comprehensive grammar system. It is greatly to Motsch's credit that he explicitly refers to a reviewer's criticism (p. 165) of his earlier categorical rejection of noun-verb-compounds ('N+V-Komposita') resulting in the interim admission that his rigorous point of view might at least be open to question (52). Owing to their stringent explanation of fundamental concepts, the single chapters seem to be perfectly suitable for use in linguistic seminars on morphology; however, due to its relatively high price the book will probably be mainly bought as a reference work by university libraries (Pittner 2000: 166).
Reviews of Wolfgang Motsch's (1999) Deutsche Wortbildung in Grundzügen by: Barz, Irmhild (2001) Deutsch als Fremdsprache 38, 54-55. Demske, Ulrike (2001) Zeitschrift für Germanistische Linguistik 29:1, 75- 84. Pittner, Karin (2000) Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 19:2, 165-66.
Fleischer, Wolfgang & Irmhild Barz (1992) Wortbildung der deutschen Gegenwartssprache. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Guido Oebel (PhD in linguistics) is a native German currently teaching German as a Foreign Language (DaF) and FLL at Saga and Kurume University in Western Japan. His main areas of research are: DaF, DaZ (German as a Second Language), FLL with German as L3, sociolinguistics, adult education and especially autonomous learning and approaches, particularly 'Learning by Teaching' (LdL). In 2001, he established the first and so far sole officially certified TestDaF-Centre nationwide. In 2004, he succeeded in persuading Prof. Viereck to give a lecture on the Atlas Linguarum Europae (ALE) at Kyushu University. At present, Guido Oebel is engaged in editing for publication a Festschrift in honour of Prof. Viereck on the occasion of his retirement from his chair at Bamberg University.