LINGUIST List 8.309

Sun Mar 2 1997

Books: Morphology/Phonology, Semantics

Editor for this issue: Susan Robinson <suelinguistlist.org>




Additional information on the following books, as well as a short backlist of the publisher's titles, may be available from the Listserv. Instructions for retrieving publishers' backlists appear at the end of this issue.

Directory

  • Kristi Long, New book-Morphology/Phonology
  • Kristi Long, New book-Semantics

    Message 1: New book-Morphology/Phonology

    Date: 14 Feb 97 11:04:20 +0100
    From: Kristi Long <kristi_longgarland.com>
    Subject: New book-Morphology/Phonology


    MORPHOLOGY/PHONOLOGY

    Noyer, Rolf; Features, Positions and Affixes in Autonomous Morphological Structure; 0-8153-2759-5; cloth; 428 pages; $89; Garland Publishing

    The first extensive, cross-linguistic study within Distributed Morphology, this work presents a theory of the spell-out of syntactic structures as phonologically realized inflected words. Although the characteristics of well-formed words largely emerge from the interaction of forces distributed throughout the grammar (syntactic movement and the arbitrary resources of language-specific vocabulary), a residue of autonomous morphology remains, including morphosyntactic feature neutralization (Impoverishment), local re-ordering of affixes, and locally selected affix templates. The study presents a detailed synchronic and diachronic investigation of the Afroasiatic prefix conjugation from Old Akkadian to contemporary dialects of Arabic and Berber. Disjunctive ordering of morphological rules cannot simultaneously effect both position class and unique exponence effects, as in standard word-and-paradigm approaches. An original synthesis of morpheme-based and paradigm-based models is proposed in which syntactic nodes fuse or fission into their phonological signals by means of vocabulary-driven spell-out, with little or no extrinsic ordering of morphological rules. A set of feature co-occurrence restrictions or filters is provided which determines the alphabet of inflectional categories. Languages with rich inflection provide positive evidence to the learner to unlearn certain filters; otherwise, filters automatically Impoverish morphosyntactic representations, explaining the systematic absence of forms which might otherwise be constructed by freely operating word-formation rules. The filter theory of Impoverishment is exemplified with a thorough cross-linguistic study of person and number, including a comparative study of the inherent number systems of the Kiowa-Tanoan languages. The proposed theory is then tested against complex multiple-argument verbal agreement systems in Warlpiri and Nunggubuyu (Australian), Kiowa-Tanoan, and Ket (Siberia).

    E-mail: infogarland.com

    Message 2: New book-Semantics

    Date: 14 Feb 97 11:06:53 +0100
    From: Kristi Long <kristi_longgarland.com>
    Subject: New book-Semantics


    SEMANTICS

    Condoravdi, Cleo A.; Descriptions in Context; 0-8153-2871-0; cloth; 214 pages; $50; Garland Publishing

    Standard semantic theories of indefinite descriptions, including both those that analyze them as inherently existentially quantified and those that analyze them as non-quantificational, variable-contributing elements , predict that indefinites always have existential force if outside the scope of any operator, that they assert rather than presuppose existence, and that they are not essentially context-sensitive. In this work the author shows that bare plural indefinite descriptions in English, in one of their readings, do not have existential force, that even in the absence of any operator, they presuppose rather than assert existence, and that they are crucially context-sensitive. This reading, called the "functional reading," is argued to constitute a distinct interpretation that cannot be subsumed under the regular generic or existential interpretation. The author develops an analysis that captures the similarities and differences between indefinites with the functional reading and definites within the framework of dynamic semantics. The universal quantificational force, the existential presupposition, and the context-sensitivity associated with the functional reading follow from the felicity conditions. Bare plural indefinite descriptions are associated with and general principles governing informational accommodation and contextually salient functions invoked to guarantee felicity. More generally, this work can be seen as an argument in favor of (i) a dynamic theory of meaning, as opposed to the classical truth-conditional theory; (ii) a presuppositional analysis of descriptions; and (iii) a strong interaction between semantics and pragmatics, whereby background knowledge directly affects interpretation in a way that cannot be factored away as a Gricean effect.

    E-mail: Infogarland.com
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