LINGUIST List 16.2953

Wed Oct 12 2005

Books: Phonology/Historical Ling, English: Schlüter

Editor for this issue: Megan Zdrojkowski <>


        1.    Julia Ulrich, Rhythmic Grammar: Schlüter

Message 1: Rhythmic Grammar: Schlüter
Date: 06-Oct-2005
From: Julia Ulrich <>
Subject: Rhythmic Grammar: Schlüter

Title: Rhythmic Grammar
Subtitle: The Influence of Rhythm on Grammatical Variation and Change in English
Series Title: Topics in English Linguistics 46
Published: 2005
Publisher: Mouton de Gruyter

Book URL:

Author: Julia Schlüter, University of Paderborn
Hardback: ISBN: 3110186071 Pages: xi, 393 pages Price: U.S. $ 132.30 Comment: for orders placed in North America
Hardback: ISBN: 3110186071 Pages: xi, 393 pages Price: Europe EURO 98.00

This groundbreaking book highlights a phonological preference, the
Principle of Rhythmic Alternation, as a factor in grammatical variation and
change in English from the early modern period to the present. Though
frequently overlooked in earlier research, the phonetically motivated
avoidance of adjacent stresses is shown to exert an influence on a wide
variety of phenomena in morphology and syntax.

Based on in-depth analyses of extensive electronic databases, the book
presents 20 exemplary studies from different structural categories. Among
them are much-debated as well as novel issues, including the double
comparative worser, 'predicative only' a- adjectives, variant past
participles, the placement of the degree modifier quite, the order of
conjuncts in binomials, the negation of attributive adjectives and sentence
adverbs, variable adverbial marking, the use or omission of the infinitive
marker, and the a- prefix before - ing forms. The studies provide
qualitative and quantitative evidence of the importance of rhythmic
alternation in synchronic variation as well as diachronic change, without
neglecting interactions with a set of competing functional tendencies.
Thus, the book contributes essential aspects to the description and
explanation of the phenomena considered, calling for a fundamental revision
of current thinking about the interface between phonology and morphosyntax.
In addition, the empirical findings are brought to bear on theoretical
discussions of more general interest, yielding a critical assessment of the
merits and limitations of two nonmodular linguistic theories: Optimality
Theory and spreading activation models. The latter type is developed into a
comprehensive conception integrating functional factors such as the
Principle of Rhythmic Alternation in an overarching framework for language
variation and change.

The wide range of subject areas covered makes the volume essential reading
and a source of inspiration for linguists with interests as diverse as the
phonology-morphosyntax interface, English grammar, the history of English,
functional linguistics, Optimality Theory, as well as neuro- and

Julia Schlüter is Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of
Paderborn, Germany.


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Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
                            Historical Linguistics
                            Linguistic Theories

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Written In: English (eng )

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