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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EDITORS: Anastasia Smirnova and Matthew Curtis TITLE: Issues in Slavic Syntax and Semantics PUBLISHER: Cambridge Scholars Publishing YEAR: 2008
Natalia V. Fitzgibbons, Department of Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
This volume grew out of 3rd and 4th Graduate Colloquia on Slavic Linguistics at Ohio State University in 2006 and contains seven papers in various areas of Slavic syntax and semantics. The editors, Anastasia Smirnova and Matthew Curtis, are Ph.D. students in the Linguistics and Slavic and East European Languages and Literature Departments at Ohio State University, respectively.
1. Paweƚ Rutkowski's paper investigates the noun-adjective (N-A) classifying pattern in Polish from a diachronic syntactic prospective. He agrees with Brajerski (1959, 1963) that the N-A pattern was adopted in Old Polish from Latin, but proposes that this adoption proceeded via the following route of structural change: the Old Polish appositive structure with deletion under identity in (a) got reanalyzed as a single determiner phrase (DP) in Modern Polish at around the middle of 15th century (b):
(a) [DP [DP [NP N] [DP [NP A N]] -> (b) [DP [CLASSP N [NP A t]]]
The author connects this reanalysis to activation of the functional projection 'classifier phrase' (ClassP) in Modern Polish; the head noun raises to the head of ClassP for feature checking, which results in the N-A word order. The author also examines the influence of the N-A pattern on the Lithuanian DP.
2. Boštjan Dvořák and Ilse Zimmerman explore Slovenian embedded imperatives, as in the following example:
Prosi, da posadite palmo. ask.PRES.3SG that plant.IMP.2PL palm.ACC 'She asks you to plant the palm.'
They begin by providing general information on Slovenian embedded imperatives, such as their geographical distribution, morphological characteristics and embedding types.
The authors then assume the sentence structure in Wratil (2005), where CP stands for 'complementizer phrase', TP stands for 'tense phrase', PolP stands for 'polarity phrase', and vP and VP stand for 'verb phrase': CP (MoodP) (TP) PolP vP* VP. They also assume that imperative meaning is associated with an empty functional category which resides either in the complementizer head C (in root imperatives) or in MoodP (in the case of embedded imperatives). The imperative verb undergoes movement to these positions for feature checking purposes. Thus, in root clauses the imperative is a sentence mood but in embedded clauses it is a verbal mood supplementing the optative paradigm. The authors also discuss the interpretation of embedded imperative verbs and their pro subjects.
3. Oxana Skorniakova takes on the question of the nature of the subject of Russian impersonal sentences and argues that it is an expletive. She goes on to propose that in colloquial Russian, this expletive is sometimes overtly realized as 'ono' 'it', as in the example below:
Tak ono i vyš-l-o. so it.NEUT turn.out.PASS.NEUT 'And so it turned out.'
The author shows that 'ono' passes several subjecthood tests (agreement, reflexivization, raising, and replacement) and concludes that it must be a pronominal element.
4. Agnieszka Łazorczyk discusses the process of deriving imperfective predicates from perfective ones, or secondary imperfectivization in Slavic, from the semantic point of view. She argues against analyzing secondary imperfectivization as a property of viewpoint aspect and instead proposes to analyze it as a process that resolves a clash between Aktionsart and viewpoint aspect. On the basis of data from Old Church Slavonic and Modern Bulgarian, she argues that secondary imperfective is an atelicizer device that removes incompatibility between imperfective viewpoint aspect and telicity.
5. Anastasia Smirnova explains in detail how the temporal interpretation of subjunctive complements in Bulgarian is derived, showing that the temporal location of the embedded subjunctive event is an inference from the semantic type of the embedding verb and the tense of the embedding verb.
6. Verdana Mihaliček examines the morphological and syntactic properties of phrases realizing INSTRUMENT and ACCOMPANIMENT roles in Serbo-Croatian and argues that Serbo-Croatian should be added to the long list of languages for which Lakoff and Johnson's (1980) Companion Metaphor does not hold.
Companion Metaphor: With few exceptions, this principle holds in all languages of the world: the word or grammatical device that indicates ACCOMPANIMENT also indicates INSTRUMENTALITY (1980: 135).
The author shows that for the two roles, there are three markers in Serbo-Croatian: INSTR(umental) case, 's ' + INSTR case, and 'uz' + INSTR case, and for different kinds of events different markers are preferred. Namely, where both 's' + INSTR and INSTR can be used, INSTR is preferred, and where 'uz' and INSTR can be used, they are preferred to marking with 's'. The author goes on to offer functional explanations for these preferences.
7. Galina Dukova-Zheleva investigates polar questions with focus in Bulgarian. She argues that the analysis in Romero and Han (2001) captures only the polar questions with neutral interpretation in Bulgarian, but not questions with focus, which have an answer set that is not generated by Romero and Han.
Paweƚ Rutkowski's paper is original and interesting because it draws together synchronic, diachronic and language contact considerations to explain a phenomenon that is rare in Slavic languages. This makes the paper an important contribution, even though the analysis is a bit stipulative.
Boštjan Dvořák and Ilse Zimmerman explore a phenomenon that is very rare crosslinguistically and receives little discussion in the literature. They provide essential information that anyone working on embedded imperatives in Slovenian will be looking for.
Oxana Skorniakova's claim that 'ono' in the examples in question is an overt expletive is interesting because it bears, among other things, on Bošković's (2010) crosslinguistic generalization that article-less languages lack (uncontroversial) overt expletives. However, it would be too soon to consider it established that 'ono' is an overt expletive. The author provides evidence showing that 'ono' is the subject in the sentences under discussion, but it is not the same as providing evidence that it is an expletive. For example, the author observes that 'ono' binds a reflexive in the following sentence (the gloss and translation are the author's):
ONO konečno opravdae-t SEBJA esli ty kupiš' dom seijčas, it.NEUT of course pay.3SG.PRES self if you buy house now
a potom prodaš' ego dorože. but later sell it expensive 'Of course, it will be worth it if you buy a house now and sell it later for more.'
This example is very surprising if ONO is indeed an expletive and SEBJA is indeed a reflexive that needs to be bound, as in the Russian sentence 'Maša uvažaet sebja' (Maša respects herself). Strictly speaking, expletives are not expected to bind anaphors. Expletives receive no interpretation, and the essence of binding is to determine reference; binding deals with interpretation (for discussion, see Chomsky 1995, for example).
The Russian examples in the paper are drawn mainly from classical literature; it would be interesting to do a corpus search to have an estimate of how 'ono' in modern colloquial Russian compares to 'ono' in that literature.
Agnieszka Łazorczyk's treatment of secondary imperfectivization as a semantic repair strategy is an interesting and novel solution. As a reader who enjoyed this paper, I just have one wish: it would have been helpful for non-Slavic linguists reading this paper if the author started with examples illustrating Slavic imperfective, perfective, and secondary imperfectivization before diving right into the discussion of details.
Anastasia Smirnova's analysis is very thorough and well supported by data, which makes this paper useful for anyone working on embedded tenses in Slavic.
Verdana Mihaliček's paper stands out in this volume as the only paper written from the functional point of view. It presents interesting data and an insightful discussion of this data; a couple errors that should have been corrected by proofreading do not inhibit understanding. The author shows very convincingly that the Companion Metaphor does not cover all realizations of INSTRUMENT and ACCOMPANIMENT in Serbo-Croatian because different kinds of instruments and accompaniments have different preferred realizations (and it is not clear how exactly to define INSTRUMENT and ACCOMPANIMENT in the first place).
Galina Dukova-Zheleva's paper was not ready for publication: the reader will notice multiple errors that should have been corrected by editing and proofreading.
The book is primarily intended for scholars working on Slavic syntax and semantics; those not working on this language group will find some of the papers difficult to follow because familiarity with Slavic languages is presupposed and glosses or important examples are sometimes lacking. On the whole, although not all the papers are of the same high quality and depth of content (which is natural for a collection of papers from graduate colloquia), the book impresses the reader by the diversity of topics and languages and the look -- the cover and the text itself are beautiful.
Bošković, Ž. 2010. On NPs and Clauses. Ms., UCONN
Brajerski, T. 1959. Wyjaśnienie prof. Brajerskiego 'Język Polski' 39: 222-231.
Brajerski, T. 1963. O szyku zaimka dzierżawczego w funkcji przydawki. T. Milewski, J. Safarewicz, and F. Sƚawski (eds.), Studia linguistic in honorem Thaddaei Lehr-Spƚawiński. Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 347-352.
Chomsky N. 1995. The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Lakoff, G. and M. Johnson. 1980. Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Romero, M. and C.-H. Han. 2001. On certain epistemic implicatures in yes/ no questions. In R. van Rooy and M. Stokhof (eds.), Proceedings of the Thirteenth Amsterdam Colloquium. Amsterdam: ILLC/ Department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam, 168-173.
Wratil, M. 2005. Die Syntax des Imperativs. Eine strukturelle Analyse zum Westgermanischen und Romanischen. Studia grammatika 62. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Natalia Fitzgibbons is a limited-term assistant professor at Concordia
University, teaching a variety of undergraduate courses. Her research
interests include syntax, semantics, syntax-semantics interface, and