LINGUIST List 23.2093

Tue May 01 2012

Review: General Linguistics; Lang. Documentation: Herschensohn (2011)

Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons <jsalmonslinguistlist.org>



Date: 01-May-2012
From: Andre Zampaulo <zampaulo.1osu.edu>
Subject: Romance Linguistics 2010
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EDITOR: Herschensohn, JuliaTITLE: Romance Linguistics 2010SUBTITLE: Selected Papers from the 40th Linguistic Symposium on RomanceLanguages (LSRL), Seattle, WashingtonSERIES: Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 318PUBLISHER: John BenjaminsYEAR: 2011

André Zampaulo, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, The Ohio State University

SUMMARYThe edited volume Romance Linguistics 2010 gathers a selection of paperspresented at the 40th Linguistics Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL XL)hosted by the University of Washington in Seattle on March 26-28, 2010. Afterthe editor's introduction and its first paper, "Theory and practice in RomanceLinguistics today: The importance of the annual LSRL," by Jurgen Klausenburger,the book presents eighteen papers organized in three parts: Morphophonology,Syntax, and Semantic Interfaces.

In her introduction, Julia Herschensohn offers reflections on Romance linguisticscholarship and provides an overview of the contents of the volume. For themajority of the 19th and 20th centuries, Romance linguistics was identified withdiachronic studies, especially phonology and morphology. However, following theadvent of Chomskyan linguistics in the 1950s and the boom of generative studiesof the 1960s onward, the comparative nature of Romance linguistics expanded itsscope through other areas such as (morpho)syntax. It was in this environmentthat the Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL) was created, holdingits first meeting at the University of Florida in 1971. Since then, the researchpresented at this annual meeting has offered robust contributions to scholarshipnot only on topics of diachronic change that go back to the 19th century, butalso on issues that occupy a central position within modern linguistic theory.The papers in the current volume follow this tradition and cover a wide range ofdiachronic and synchronic phenomena in languages ranging from as far East asRomanian to as far West as Afro-Bolivian Spanish.

In the first chapter, Jurgen Klausenburger reflects upon the importance andevolution of Romance linguistics as a discipline, since the five classicscholars (or "giants") of the field from the 19th century (François Raynouard,Friedrich Diez, Gustav Gröber, Wilhelm Meyer-Lübke and Hugo Schuchardt) to itscurrent state and practice, culminating at each annual LSRL. Considering theRomance linguist as a scholar whose primary interest centers on linguistics,Klausenburger predicts that the field will continue to grow and use its vastrepository of diachronic and synchronic data in order to offer insights and itscontribution to modern linguistic theory.

In Part I, five papers on the morphophonology of Romanian, Galician, Spanish andother varieties of Ibero-Romance are presented. Margaret E. L. Renwickinvestigates the source of Romanian /ɨ/ ('barred /i/') in "On the origins of /ɨ/in Romanian." She provides a full diachronic account of this high central voweland argues that it split from central mid /ə/ in native words, while laterborrowings from Greek, Slavic and Turkish contributed to its phonemicization.However, this vowel presents a very low type frequency in Modern Romanian, whichis corroborated by its high predictability before a nasal consonant.

In the third paper, "An acoustic investigation of nasal place neutralization inSpanish: Default place assignment and phonetic underspecification," MichaelRamsammy analyzes the acoustic properties of place neutralized nasals inPeninsular Spanish. His results support previous analyses indicating thatalveolarizing Spanish varieties neutralize word-final nasals to [CORONAL], whilevelarizing dialects neutralize them to [DORSAL]. Preconsonantal nasal codas,however, do not present categorical assimilation. Instead, Ramsammy'sexperimental results suggest that word-medial preconsonantal nasal codas shouldbe phonetically underspecified for place, which accounts for the greatvariability and phonetic gradience observed in their realization across dialectsof Peninsular Spanish.

Christine Weissglass examines the realization of Spanish rhotics in the fourthpaper, "An acoustic study of rhotics in onset clusters in La Rioja." The authorcollected data from four subjects native to the region of La Rioja in northernSpain and investigates the phonetic factors that shape the realization ofrhotics in initial consonant clusters, paying particular attention to cases ofassibilated pronunciations. Her results indicate that rhotics in this dialecttend to have longer duration after voiced and velar consonants and the highfront vowel [i], while being shorter elsewhere. Contrary to previous claims ofassibilated rhotics in La Rioja Spanish, Weissglass finds very few instances ofsuch pronunciations and shows that the variety has approximants instead.

In the fifth paper, "Mid front vowel lowering before rhotics in Ibero-Romance,"Travis G. Bradley explores the realization of /e/ before rhotic consonants infive varieties of Ibero-Romance: Castilian Spanish, Aragonese, Astur-Leonese,Judeo-Spanish and Central Catalan. Relying on acoustic and articulatory evidencewith an Optimality Theoretic analysis, Bradley proposes different rankings ofphonetically grounded constraints in order to account for the different patternsof /e/-lowering in the aforementioned varieties.

The sixth paper also draws on Optimality Theory. In "Plural formation inGalician," Sonia Colina considers data from normative and dialectal Galician inorder to examine the allomorphic variation observed in plural formation forconsonant final words (i.e. words ending in nasal, lateral and rhoticconsonants). In Colina's analysis, a ranked order of OT constraints groundedboth on phonetic and phonological patterns in Galician allows for the derivationof plurals in the normative variety, while a reranking of such constraintsaccounts for the variation attested in southern and eastern dialects.

Part II contains seven papers on syntactic aspects of Old and Modern French,Peninsular and Afro-Bolivian Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese. In "On baresubject relative clauses in Old French," Deborah Arteaga presents an analysis ofrestrictive relative clauses in Old French, such as 'Car ne voi tertre nen soeitrases' (For I see no small hill (that) is not razed to the ground), which didnot contain the relative pronoun 'qui.' The author rejects considering suchexamples cases of parataxis or juxtaposition of two independent clauses,instead, adopting a Minimalist approach using the mechanisms of Merge, Agree,Copy and Delete (Chomsky 2001) to account for bare subject relative clauses asInflectional Phrases (IPs) from which the subject has been removed, because ofidentity with its antecedent in the main clause.

The eighth paper, "Directed motion in Medieval French," by Michelle Troberg,presents new data regarding directed motion verbs encoding path in MedievalFrench. The author argues for a microparametric approach (as opposed to amacroparametric approach) to account for the data, which reveals an interactionbetween the lexical characteristics of verbs and those of prepositions duringsmall clause formation.

Edit Doron and Marie Labelle present an analysis of French "anti-causative" verbconstructions (e.g. (se) rougir, 'to redden') in the ninth paper, "An ergativeanalysis of French valency alternations." The authors propose that constructionsfocused on the result (Res-AC), 'se rougir,' derive from the merge of 'se' underan inactive Voice head, while constructions focused on the process (Proc-AC),'rougir,' come from the use of active Voice with a v projection lacking aspecifier. Evidence from other languages such as Hebrew and Neo-Aramaic is alsoprovided in support of the analysis.

Spanish prenominal possessives (PNPs) are the subject of the tenth paper,"Peninsular Spanish prenominal possessives in ellipsis contexts: A Phase-basedaccount," by Luis Sáez. In Spanish, PNPs prohibit ellipsis of the head noun,e.g. 'los/*nuestros rojos' (the/our red ones). The author then proposes thatPNPs arise from a genitive phrase that is external to the Determiner Phrase (DP)and, thus, do not merge in D (Determiner), as it is possible in the cases ofellipsis with definite articles.

Violeta Demonte, Héctor Fernández-Alcalde and Isabel Pérez-Jiménez contributethe eleventh paper, "On the nature of nominal features: Agreement mismatches inSpanish conjoined structures." The authors examine unique constructions withmismatched determiner agreement such as in 'Un banquete y baile habían sidoanunciados' (A banquet and ball had been announced). In order to account for theagreement between the determiner and the first noun, and between the verb andthe plural conjoined Determiner Phrase, Demonte, Fernández-Alcalde andPérez-Jiménez propose the use of both concord and index features: while theformer determine Closest Conjunct Agreement in the Determiner, the latter callsfor the higher conjoined Determiner Phrase (i.e. plural) to account for verbagreement.

In the volume's twelfth paper, "On the nature of bare nouns in Afro-BolivianSpanish," Javier Gutiérrez-Rexach and Sandro Sessarego explore the features ofdefinite, indefinite and bare nouns in the Spanish variety spoken byAfrican-Bolivians. The authors' analysis of both generic and specific DPs inthis dialect contradicts the predictions of Chierchia's (1998) Nominal MappingParameter, thus warranting an alternative account that incorporates a concealeddeterminer to allow for its attested range of interpretations.

In the last paper of Part II, "Negative imperatives in Portuguese and otherRomance languages," Rerisson Cavalcante examines the mismatch between trueimperatives and preverbal negation, especially in Brazilian Portuguese (BP).Unlike other Romance languages, BP displays no true imperatives, as it does notpresent a clear distribution between negative and affirmative imperative verbforms, and both indicative and subjunctive may be used when forming eitherimperative. Cavalcante accounts for this by claiming that in BP an imperativemorpheme is not required to merge in the Complementizer (C) that is adjacentwith a given verb, which is the case in European Romance.

Part III features six papers regarding semantic interfaces. While the firstpaper focuses on Italian, the remaining five represent important contributionsto the linguistic study of Romanian.

In "Another look at Italian generic sentences," Alda Mari analyzes Italianindefinite singular and definite plural generic statements. In order to accountfor the differences in interpretation between the two, the author proposes acovert abilitative model for the indefinite singular, which is associated withimperfective and intensional characteristics. As for the definite plural, Mariconfers it variable status, associated with perfective and accidental features.

The last five papers focus on Romanian. Blanca Croitor and Carmen Dobrovie-Sorincontribute "The agreement of collective DPs in Romanian", analyzing the optionalplural agreement of the verb with collective Determiner Phrase (DP) subjects inRomanian when a partitive quantifier, e.g. 'o parte din' (part of) modifiesthem. Following Higginbotham's (1994) proposal of mass and pluralDeterminer-quantifiers, they claim that quantification is set under amounts ofminimal parts, which represent atomic entities in collective nouns. The use ofpartitive quantifiers, thus, changes the semantics of a noun denoting entityinto a sum of several minimal parts denoting entity.

In the sixteenth paper, "A multidominance account for conjoined questions inRomanian," Dafina Ratiu examines conjoined questions such as 'who and whatbought' in Romanian. The author analyzes these types of questions with abiclausal (instead of a monoclausal) account in which one single and sharedInflectional Phrase (IP) is pronounced.

Ion Giurgea centers his analysis on Romanian pronouns, auxiliaries, moodparticles, negation and adverbs (clitics) in his paper "The Romanian verbalcluster and the theory of head movement." His principal contribution lies inputting forth an explanation of the unusual head order patterns of such Romanianclitics, which do not fit in the general typological rule of morphologicallinearization.

In the penultimate paper, "New challenges in the area of semantic dependencies:The Romanian epistemic constraint," Anamaria Fǎlǎus examines the variation foundin semantically dependent indefinites, centering her analysis on the specialstatus of Romanian determiner 'vreunʼ (some, any). She adopts Chierchia's (2006)approach on polarity-sensitivity in order to put forth her account, arguing thatthe occurrence of 'vreun' in intensional contexts is contingent upon epistemicalternatives and their contribution to sentence meaning.

Donka F. Farkas discusses polarity particles such as yes/da and no/nu in thefinal paper of the volume, "Polarity particles in English and Romanian." Farkasargues that such particles depend upon a topic proposition generated by theirantecedent in order to be considered as appropriate responses to polarquestions, assertions and imperatives. She further compares Romanian and Englishregarding the distribution of these particles in reactions to imperative forms,both in morphological and pragmatic terms.

EVALUATIONRomance Linguistics 2010 faithfully represents the kind of research beingconducted in the field of Romance linguistics nowadays and unfolding annually inLSRL meetings. It depicts an active area of linguistic investigation using itswealth of data to advance modern linguistic theory. The nineteen papers gatheredin the present volume present new scholarship not only on topics of diachronicchange, but also on synchronic issues of languages from the geographical ends ofthe Romance territory. Moreover, the book maintains the tradition of the LSRLmeetings since 1971 by gathering works on multiple languages and subfields. Asoutlined by Jurgen Klausenburger in his 'state-of-the-discipline' introductoryarticle, the chief concern of Romance linguists is to advance linguistics, whichis precisely what the contributors in this edited volume achieve with theirpapers.

Work in other subfields such as sociolinguistics and pragmatics would have beenwelcome and enriched the book's generative orientation, complementing insightsof other theoretical frameworks. Nevertheless, the volume maintains five-starquality not only with works on well-studied languages such as French andSpanish, but also with the inclusion of less-commonly studied varieties such asAfro-Bolivian Spanish and a third of the papers on Romanian linguistics, whichsets it apart from previous LSRL volumes. The contributions in RomanceLinguistics 2010 work in unison and mirror Klausenburger's description of thefield. They reveal a growing area of research in which diachronic and synchronicdata abound and provide one of the best laboratories for testing new theoreticalinsights. For covering a wide range of topics and keeping the high standardoutcome of an annual LSRL meeting, it earns its place in every Romancelinguist's library.

REFERENCESChierchia, Gennaro. 1998. Reference to kinds across languages. Natural LanguageSemantics 6:339-405.

Chierchia, Gennaro. 2006. Broaden your views. Implicatures of domain wideningand spontaneous logicality of language. Linguistic Inquiry 37:535-590.

Chomsky, Noam. 2001. Derivation by phase. In M. Kenstowicz (ed.), Ken Hale: Alife in language, 1-52. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Higginbotham, James. 1994. Mass and count quantifiers. Linguistics andPhilosophy 17:447-480.

ABOUT THE REVIEWERAndré Zampaulo is a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish and Portuguese Linguisticsat The Ohio State University specializing in phonetics & phonology andlanguage change, with a particular interest in the evolutionary pathways ofthe Spanish and Portuguese sound systems. He expects to defend hisdissertation on the evolution of palatal consonants in those languages bySpring 2013.

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