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Review of  Romance Linguistics 2007

Reviewer: Christopher D. Sams
Book Title: Romance Linguistics 2007
Book Author: Pascual José Masullo Erin O'Rourke Chia-Hui Huang
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
Language Acquisition
Subject Language(s): French
French, Old
Spanish, Old
Issue Number: 21.2456

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EDITORS: Masullo, Pascual José; O'Rourke, Erin; Huang, Chia-Hui
TITLE: Romance Linguistics 2007
SUBTITLE: Selected Papers from the 37th Linguistic Symposium on Romance
Languages (LSRL), Pittsburgh, 15-18 March 2007
SERIES TITLE: Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 304
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2009

Christopher D. Sams, Department of English, Stephen F. Austin State University


Romance Linguistics 2007 is a collection of papers which are based on
presentations at the 37th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL), held
in Pittsburgh in March of 2007. The aim of the conference and resulting
publication is to promote ''advances in theoretical research on Romance
Languages.'' The papers cover a wide variety of the subdisciplines of Romance
Linguistics such as phonetics, phonology, morphology, language acquisition,
typology, and historical linguistics. The papers are organized alphabetically by
the author's last name.


In Gabriela Alboiu's paper ''Null Expletives and Case: The View from Romance'',
she argues within the Minimalist framework that structural Case agreement (phi
features) which relies on the phrase head ''is not compulsory for either Case
licensing or for obtaining a Case value.'' She provides examples in Romanian,
Spanish, Ancient Greek, and both Old and Modern Italian.

Deborah Arteaga's paper ''On the Existence of Null Complementizers in Old French''
examines data from Old and Modern French to argue that rather than instances of
parataxis, null complementizers in Old French were ''lexically selected CPs with
an EPP feature in C'', and that the EPP feature of subordinate C was lost in the
evolution from Old French to Modern French.

''On the Lack of Transparency Effects in French'' by J.-Marc Authier and Lisa A.
Reed argues that Modern French ''has no transparency effects of the restructuring
kind'' and concludes that restructuring verbs fall into one of three parametric
categories: A) restructuring verbs are either lexical or functional, B)
restructuring verbs are lexical, and C) restructuring verbs are functional. They
claim that diachronic development in French can be categorized and accounted for
according to these parameters.

Travis G. Bradley's paper ''On the Syllabification of prevocalic /w/ in
Judeo-Spanish'' examines (using the faithfulness and markedness constraints of
Optimality Theory) some Judeo-Spanish dialects in which the labiovelar glide /w/
is realized as secondary labialization on a preceding consonant.

''Word Order and Minimalism'' was based on an outreach talk to non-specialists by
Heles Contreras. He suggests that it is the ''lack of ordering stipulations'', and
not a basic word order with accompanying 'movement' operations, that can account
for 'free' word order. He draws on examples from Spanish, Warlpiri, Portuguese,
and Italian.

In ''The Status of Old French Clitics in the 12th Century'', Jennifer Culbertson
argues that rather than being proclitics on simple, finite verbs, French clitics
in the 12th century were ''enclitics obeying independent constraints on positioning.''

Anamaria Falaus in ''Towards a Unified Account of Positive and Negative Polarity:
Evidence from Romanian'' presents empirical data supporting the claim that
negative polarity items and positive polarity are sensitive to the semantic
property antimorphy.

Based on his plenary lecture, Javier Gutiérrez-Rexach's ''Correlativization and
Degree Quantification in Spanish'' analyzes (paraphrasing from the abstract) the
syntactic and semantic properties of Spanish degree-relative constructions and
defends a movement analysis that is in line with recent cross-linguistic
research on correlatives.

''Imperfect Variation and Class Marking in the Old Spanish Third Conjugation'' by
Nicholas C. Henriksen follows Penny's 1972 work on Spanish root vowel
morphology. The papers examines data from four Old Spanish texts and assesses
the role of verb class in determining the Old Spanish imperfect endings ie vs. ia.

''Licensing Negative Fragments and the Interpretation of Comparison'' by Simona
Herdan explores how negative elements (such as 'never') are licensed in Romanian
elliptical and comparative/equative structures where no overt negation is
present. Her analysis relies on Bošković's (to appear) feature checking analysis.

Based on her plenary lecture ''Developing I-Language in L1 and L2'', Julia
Herschensohn addresses (based on Chomsky 1986) whether L2 grammars should be
classified as I-Language or E-Language. Examples come from French and Italian.

''Crypto-Variation in Italian Velar Palatalization'' by Martin Krämer is an
empirical study in which he devises a nonce word list and elicits native Italian
informants' judgments to gain an understanding of the synchronic status of
Italian velar palatalization. His results (analyzed in the Optimality Theory
framework) suggest that there is a uniform, yet ambiguous surface pattern which
is analyzed in different ways by different speakers.

Juan Martín's paper ''Antisymmetry and the Typology of Relative Clauses:
Syntactic and Morphological Evidence from Spanish'' examines two different types
of syntactic structures for Spanish relative clauses: the first ''is derived by
NP-raising where the relative clause is selected by the determiner'' (Kayne
1994), and the second type is a ''matching structure which involves operator

''Romance Paths as Cognate Complements: A Lexical-Syntactic Account'' by Jaume
Mateu and Gemma Rigau analyzes some Path constructions that ''appear to
contradict Talmy's (1991, 2000) typological predictions.'' The authors draw on
Hale and Keyser's (2000) analysis on 'P-Cognation' where phrasal verbs in
Italian and Catalan involve a lexical-syntactic patterns where the directional
particle that specifies the Path element has already been conflated with the
verb, i.e. the verb itself codes the meaning that is further specified by the
P(ath) particle.

In Rebecca E. Ronquest and Manuel Díaz-Campos' paper ''Discriminating Pitch
Accent Alignment in Spanish'', the authors present a study of perceptual data to
determine whether participants could distinguish between two pitch accents in
Spanish declaratives, and their findings suggest that listeners could not
distinguish between two pitch accent alignments.

''Proscriptions...Gaps...and Something in Between: An Experimental Examination of
Spanish Phonotactics'' by Michael Shelton, Chip Gerfen, and Nicolás Gutiérrez
Palma examines phonotactic sequences that are phonologically prohibited,
historical gaps, and fully-licit controls and argues that a more gradient
approach to syllable weight (rather than binary, i.e., light or heavy) can more
accurately describe that data.

Laura Spinu's paper ''Romanian Palatalization: The Role of Place of Articulation
in Perception'' examines Romanian speakers' perception of labial versus coronal
fricatives and concludes that Romanian speakers have a higher sensitivity to
plain-palatalized contrast in labials rather than coronals.

''Putting the Spanish Determiner Phrase in Order'' by M. Emma Ticio argues that
right specifiers, stylistic movements, and massive overt movements are not
needed to explain PP arguments within Spanish DPs. She proposes that different
properties and chain resolution at the phonological interface account for the
differences in hierarchical and surface orders.

In Irene Vogel and Laura Spinu's paper ''The Domain of Palatalization in
Romanian'', they demonstrate that word final /i/ in Romanian (usually pronounced
as a glide or a palatal property associated with the previous segment) is
(paraphrasing from the abstract) not a phonological process that affects the
right side of the word, but rather the context for the phenomenon is between the
Phonological Word and the Phonological phrase--a Composite Group.

''Rhotic Metathesis Asymmetries in Romance: Formalizing the Effects of
Articulation and Perception on Sound Change'' by Eric Russell Webb and Travis G.
Bradley examine rhotic metathesis as the traditional account of listeners
interpreting the elongated [low F3] formant does not account for all of the
cases since ''no single phonetic property unifies this class of rhotics.''

The final paper ''The Left Edge in the Spanish Clausal Structure'' by Maria Luisa
Zubizarreta examines the left-edge part of clauses in Standard Spanish as
compared to Italian and Caribbean Spanish. Standard Spanish has both VSO order
and subject inversion in informational questions, She argues that the left-most
edge in the I-domain is the projection of phi-P ('rich agreement').


Given the scope of the volume, I will keep my comments rather general. On the
whole, this volume deals with novel research and well-established theoretical
models. The papers are of great benefit to someone wishing to evaluate current
issues in Romance linguistics. Some of the papers offer new theories and data,
while others offer a look at well-known data in a new view.

The intended audience are Romance Linguists, but a very current and thorough
knowledge of both Minimalism and Optimality Theory is required to follow most of
the in-depth discussions.

In terms of organization, the volume would have benefited greatly from grouping
the papers by language or by subdiscipline rather than alphabetically by the
author's last name. In looking at the languages represented, the papers were
Spanish and French heavy, although it is refreshing to see so many papers
dealing with Romanian, which can be often overlooked. Not knowing the conference
program and the quality of the papers, it would have been nice to see Italian,
Catalan, and the non-present Portuguese better represented in the data. Another
innovation would have been better cohesion between the papers; some of the
papers overlapped material and could have cross referenced each other. The
formatting is also more or less consistent, although some of the articles opt
for tree diagrams and others the use of a bracket representation of syntactic
relations, which was very difficult to read in some cases.

It is also refreshing that many of the papers were so well researched and in
depth, but also mentioned more general typological implications where applicable.


Bošković, Željko. (To appear). ''Licensing Negative Constituents and Negative
Concord.'' Proceedings of the 38th North East Linguistic Society (NELS), Ottawa,
26-28 October 2007. Amherst, MA: GSLA Publications.
Chomsky, Noam. (1986). ''Knowledge of Language: Its Nature, Origin, and Use. New
York: Praeger.
Hale, Kenneth & Samuel J. Keyser (2000). ''Aspect and the Syntax of Argument
Structure.'' Ms., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
Downloadable at
Kayne, Richard. (1994). ''The Antisymmetry of Syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Penny, Ralph. (1972). ''Verb Class as a Determiner of Stem Vowel in the
Historical Morphology of Spanish Verbs''. Revue de Linguistique Romane 36.343-359.
Talmy, Leonard. (2000). ''Toward a Cognitive Semantics, vol.2. Cambridge, MA: MIT
Talmy, Leonard. (1991). ''Path to Realization: A Typology of Event Conflation.''
Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society
17.480-519. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Linguistics Society.

Christopher Sams earned a Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics (Romance Linguistics Specialization) from SUNY Buffalo in May 2009. He has taught courses in Spanish, French, Italian, English, and Linguistics. His research centers around linguistic typology, Romance Linguistics, and Forensic Linguistics.