LINGUIST List 11.608

Fri Mar 17 2000

Books: Syntax, Semantics, Historical Ling

Editor for this issue: Scott Fults <>

Links to the websites of all LINGUIST's supporting publishers are available at the end of this issue.


  • Jud Wolfskill, An Introduction to Semantics, G. Chierchia & S. McConnell-Ginet
  • Jud Wolfskill, Syntax & Semantics: The Syntactic Process, M. Steedman
  • Paul Peranteau, Historical Linguistics: Language History: An Introduction, A. Sihler

    Message 1: An Introduction to Semantics, G. Chierchia & S. McConnell-Ginet

    Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 16:59:35 -0400
    From: Jud Wolfskill <wolfskilMIT.EDU>
    Subject: An Introduction to Semantics, G. Chierchia & S. McConnell-Ginet

    The following is a book which readers of this list might find of interest. For more information please visit

    Meaning and Grammar An Introduction to Semantics second edition

    Gennaro Chierchia and Sally McConnell-Ginet

    This self-contained introduction to natural language semantics addresses the major theoretical questions in the field. The authors introduce the systematic study of linguistic meaning through a sequence of formal tools and their linguistic applications. Starting with propositional connectives and truth conditions, the book moves to quantification and binding, intensionality and tense, and so on. To set their approach in a broader perspective, the authors also explore the interaction of meaning with context and use (the semantics-pragmatics interface) and address some of the foundational questions, especially in connection with cognition in general. They also introduce a few of the most accessible and interesting ideas from recent research to give the reader a bit of the flavor of current work in semantics. The organization of this new edition is modular; after the introductory chapters, the remaining material can be covered in flexible order. The book presupposes no background in formal logic (an appendix introduces the basic notions of set theory) and only a minimal acquaintance with linguistics. This edition includes a substantial amount of completely new material and has been not only updated but redesigned throughout to enhance its user-friendliness.

    Gennaro Chierchia is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Milan. Sally McConnell-Ginet is Professor of Linguistics at Cornell University.

    7 x 10, 522 pp., 15 illus., paper ISBN 0-262-53164-X, cloth ISBN 0-262-03269-4

    Message 2: Syntax & Semantics: The Syntactic Process, M. Steedman

    Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 16:46:40 -0400
    From: Jud Wolfskill <wolfskilMIT.EDU>
    Subject: Syntax & Semantics: The Syntactic Process, M. Steedman

    The following is a book which readers of this list might find of interest. For more information please visit

    The Syntactic Process Mark Steedman

    In this book Mark Steedman argues that the surface syntax of natural languages maps spoken and written forms directly to a compositional semantic representation that includes predicate-argument structure, quantification, and information structure without constructing any intervening structural representation. His purpose is to construct a principled theory of natural grammar that is directly compatible with both explanatory linguistic accounts of a number of problematic syntactic phenomena and a straightforward computational account of the way sentences are mapped onto representations of meaning. The radical nature of Steedman's proposal stems from his claim that much of the apparent complexity of syntax, prosody, and processing follows from the lexical specification of the grammar and from the involvement of a small number of universal rule-types for combining predicates and arguments.

    The book covers topics in formal linguistics, intonational phonology, computational linguistics, and experimental psycholinguistics, presenting them as an integrated theory of the language faculty in a form accessible to readers from any of those fields.

    Mark Steedman is Professor of Cognitive Science in the Division of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Surface Structure and Interpretation (MIT Press, 1996).

    6 x 9, 328 pp., 11 illus., cloth ISBN 0-262-19420-1

    Language, Speech, and Communication series

    A Bradford Book

    Message 3: Historical Linguistics: Language History: An Introduction, A. Sihler

    Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 22:04:02 -0500
    From: Paul Peranteau <>
    Subject: Historical Linguistics: Language History: An Introduction, A. Sihler

    John Benjamins Publishing presents for your use:

    LANGUAGE HISTORY . An introduction. by Andrew L. Sihler (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

    Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 191 xvi, 299 pp. US & Canada: HB 1 55619 968 6 USD 70.00 / pb: 1 55619 969 4 USD $29.95 Rest of world: HB: 90 272 3697 6 NLG 140.00 / pb: 90 272 3698 4 NLG 60.00 Examination copies available

    This classroom-tested volume aspires to be a brief but technically and factually accurate exposition of linguistic description and history. Whether studied as prime subject or as background information, it should help students understand the assumptions and reasoning that underlie the contents of their handbooks and etymological dictionaries.

    This book should be a useful guide for anyone unfamiliar with (historical) linguistics who is studying the history of a language, and also for those who are enrolled in courses devoted to reading texts in old languages.


    Introduction 1. Changes in Pronunciation: Assimilation; Dissimilation; Addition of segments; Loss of segments; Metathesis; Other interactions between segments; Changes in manner of articulation. 2. Sound Laws: Merger; Primary split (conditioned merger); Secondary split (phonolo-gization); Sound laws; Efficient causes of sound change; Patternless changes. 3. Analogy: Leveling analogy; Recomposition; Contamination; Portmanteau words; Folk etymology; Morphological analogy; Hypercorrection. 4. Semantic Change: Changes in the number of features; Pejoration and melioration; Foregrounding of connotations; Figurative meanings (metaphor, metonymy); Changes resulting from changes in the structure of language, reinterpretation of ambiguities, and changes in the physical or social environment; Calques; The etymological fallacy. 5. Reconstruction: The comparative method; Reconstruction of features of morphology, semantics, and syntax; Internal reconstruction; The relationship between phonological restructuring and internal reconstruction. 6. External Aspects of Language: Language and dialect; Differentiation of languages; Languages in contact. 7. Written Records: The interpretation of written records; Transliteration; Borrowing; Multiple values of symbols; Chronology; Borrowing symbols; Comparative evidence; Typology, parallelism; Statements by contemporaneous authorities; Poetry.

    Appendix: Phonetics the mechanisms of speech and the classifications of speech sounds. Glossary; Glossary of Terms in German Bibliography Index

    John Benjamins Publishing Co. Offices: Philadelphia Amsterdam: Websites: E-mail: Phone: +215 836-1200 +31 20 6762325 Fax: +215 836-1204 +31 20 6739773