LINGUIST List 9.1750

Wed Dec 9 1998

Books: Romance Ling/ Syntax

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  1. Andrea Doria, Sintassi Comparata dell'accordo participiale ramanzo

Message 1: Sintassi Comparata dell'accordo participiale ramanzo

Date: Sun, 06 Dec 1998 20:08:26 +0000
From: Andrea Doria <Andrea>
Subject: Sintassi Comparata dell'accordo participiale ramanzo

Sintassi comparata dell'accordo participiale romanzo
Rosenberg & Sellier, Torino, 1998
isbn 88-7011-719-7, 272 pages, Lit.65.000

Address of the publisher: via Andrea Doria 14, I-10123 Torino
(credit cards accepted)

This book offers a comprehensive account of Romance past participle
(PP) agreement in verbal periphrastics, a much-debated topic in
Romance linguistics as well as in theoretical syntax. Its main bulk
consists of a systematic inventory of agreement systems throughout
Romance (chs. 3-4), which is unprecedented as to both empirical
coverage and level of detail. Beside the standard languages, dialects
(especially, but by no means exclusively, Italo-Romance ones) are
considered thoroughly, based in part on first-hand data. One of the
basic points of this work is that no sensible account of PP agreement
can be arrived at without in-depth consideration of dialect
variation. More than sixty different systems are taken into account:
for virtually all of them the discussion is not limited to selected
syntactic constructions, but rather encompasses the whole set of
verbal periphrastics (both perfective and passive) consisting of
auxiliary + PP. Among the agreement systems analyzed here several have
not been previously described.

The presentation of Romance syntactic variation in chapters 3 and 4 is
preceded by two introductory chapters and followed by three more
theoretically oriented ones. Ch. 1 deals with traditional accounts of
PP agreement in Romance linguistics and shows why a fresh look at the
phenomena at issue is needed. Ch. 2 introduces the aims and method of
the present monograph, which is cast in the framework of Relational
Grammar. After the assessment of dialect variation in PP agreement
(chs. 3-4), ch. 5 shows that the analysis developed to account for it
naturally projects onto diachrony. The steps through which PP
agreement has evolved over time from Latin to Romance are shown to
closely match the parametric options evidenced by synchronic
geographic variation. Ch. 6 compares the achievements of the present
study with competing approaches to PP agreement developed within the
Principles and Parameters approach (or earlier versions of Generative
Grammar). One of the main results of this comparison is the
recognition of the fact that proposals put forward by generative
grammarians - in spite of seeming differences, due to the theoretical
machinery used - are very much in keeping with the descriptive
tradition discussed (and criticized) in ch. 1. Ch. 6 also contains a
discussion of PP agreement in the acquisition of Italian as a first
language. This domain of empirical data can be naturally unified with
dialectal and diachronic variation under the approach developed
here. Ch. 7 finally synthesizes the results and elaborates on the
internal articulation of the parametric conditions involved in PP
agreement throughout Romance varieties. The concluding table (29)
displays in half a page all the syntactically relevant information
that is both necessary and sufficient to exhaustively characterize PP
agreement through space and time across Romance. Finally, a list of
keywords for this book would have to include a number of related
issues that must be dealt with in connection with PP agreement and
which are in fact repeatedly touched upon in the seven chapters. Among
these, auxiliary selection and the contrast between agreement of PPs
and of adjectival predicates figure most prominently. Other topics
discussed range from the syntactic nature of clitics to the
representation of reflexives, impersonal constructions, and
existentials, to mention just a few.

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  • Summer Institute of Linguistics