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Review of  Romanische Sprachgeschichte / Histoire linguistique de la Romania

Reviewer: Kim Schulte
Book Title: Romanische Sprachgeschichte / Histoire linguistique de la Romania
Book Author: Gerhard Ernst Martin-Dietrich Gleßgen Christian Schmitt Wolfgang Schweickard
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Issue Number: 15.2201

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Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 20:41:12 +0200 (CEST)
From: Kim Schulte
Subject: Romanische Sprachgeschichte / Histoire linguistique de la Romania

EDITORS: Ernst, Gerhard; Gleßgen, Martin-Dietrich; Schmitt, Christian;
Schweickard, Wolfgang
TITLE: Romanische Sprachgeschichte / Histoire linguistique de la Romania
SUBTITLE: Ein internationales Handbuch zur Geschichte der romanischen
Sprachen / Manuel international d'histoire linguistique de la Romania
SERIES: Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft /
Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science 23.1
PUBLISHER: Walter de Gruyter (Mouton)
YEAR: 2003

Kim Schulte, University of Exeter

[Note: in the Name ''Vintila Radulescu'', ''a'' represents with Unicode
character 0103 'lower-case a with breve'.]

This is the first volume out of a set of three, of which the other two are
as yet unpublished. The full set, the 'International Handbook on the
History of the Romance Languages', will contain a total of sixteen
chapters, made up of 263 articles by approximately 300 different authors.
This volume contains an introduction and nine chapters, made up of 104
separate contributions. The articles are written in four different
languages: 57 in German, 26 in French, 14 in Spanish and 7 in Italian; the
introduction is published in both German and French.

This book is intended primarily for specialists in Romance philology, but
also for any linguist with an interest in (comparative) historical issues
and methodology, or in the history of linguistic thought. As a handbook,
it offers a wide range of relatively short articles that complement each
other, each focusing on a specific, limited aspect of the history or
historiography of the Romance Languages, providing an overview of the
basic facts and extant research in the respective area, pinpointing
shortcomings and issues that require further research, and providing
references to relevant literature.

One aim of the handbook is to illustrate, compare and discuss the
principles, methods and theoretical approaches that have been applied in
the historical analysis of the Romance Languages, and to link these up
with recent developments in the areas of sociolinguistics, variational
linguistics, communication theory, contact linguistics and corpus
linguistics, focusing particularly on the aspect of diachronic and areal

A further aim of the handbook is to provide a comprehensive overview of
the emergence and evolution of the Romance language areas (''Sprachräume''),
explicitly moving away from the analysis of individual (national)
languages towards a 'vertical' approach that does justice to the continuum
of varieties within the individual language areas, as well as providing
comparative insights into systematic parallels and contrasts found between
these areas by means of a thematic juxtaposition of articles dealing with
related issues in each of the various language areas.

Chapter 1, ''Methodological Foundations of the Historiography of the
Romance Languages'', deals with the question to what extent diachronically
relevant methods of analysis are also usefully applicable to the
synchronic analysis of the Romance Languages, and investigates the role of
Romance linguistics at the interface between general and language-specific
linguistic analysis.

A general historical overview of the historiographical methodology used in
Romance linguistics, written by the editors, is followed by a more
specific discussion of the possibilities and limitations we are faced with
in this area, by Michael Metzeltin and Nina Gritzky. Helmut Berschin
investigates the complex relation between synchronic and diachronic
analysis in historical Romance linguistics, Peter Blumenthal looks at the
relation between the internal and the external history of the Romance
languages, and Richard Baum discusses the concept of subdividing
linguistic history into discrete periods. Pierre Swiggers investigates the
position of Romance historical linguistics in the context of comparative
historical linguistics, highlighting the fundamental differences between
the historical analysis of documented and undocumented languages, and
Philippe Ménard discusses the potential problems arising from the use of
edited versions of linguistic documents. Jean-Paul Chauveau gives an
overview of the origins and evolution of linguistic geography and
discusses its usefulness and limitations in drawing diachronic
conclusions. Christoph Schwarze investigates the application and
applicability of popular descriptive models to historical Romance
linguistics, and Peter Koch discusses the role and limitations of
variational linguistics in the historiography of the Romance languages.
Ulrich Hoinkes deals with the issue of genetic classification of the
Romance Languages, which he shows to be far from clear-cut, and Daniel
Jacob looks at attempts to establish a typological classification of the
Romance Languages.

Chapter 2, ''History of the Reflection about the Romance Languages'', can be
subdivided into three main thematic blocks.

The first block is concerned with the history and etymology of the names
given to individual varieties within the various Romance language areas.
Vasile Arvinte deals with the Southeastern Romance area, Dieter
Kattenbusch with Italo-Romance and the varieties of the eastern Alps,
Jutta Langenbacher-Liebgott with Gallo-Romance, Johannes Kabatek with
Ibero-Romance, and Ioana Vintila Radulescu with Romance-based creoles.

The second block looks at the history of the linguistic study of the
Romance Languages, with Alexandru Niculescu focusing on Romanian, Thomas
Krefeld on the three Rhaeto-Romance varieties Friulian, Ladin and
Romansch, Sergio Lubello on Italian and Sardinian, Mechthild Bierbach and
Jean-Christophe Pellat on French, Maurizio Perugi on Occitan, August
Rafanell and Joan Solà on Catalan, Jenny Brumme on Spanish, Rolf Kemmler
and Barbara Schäfer-Prieß on Portuguese, and Ralph Ludwig on Romance-based

The third thematic group of articles is concerned with the history of the
study of etymology and lexical history of the Romance Languages. The first
two articles adopt a pan-Romance perspective; Max Pfister deals with the
history of the etymological study of the Romance Languages, while Andreas
Blank offers a historical survey of the study of Romance lexical history.
These are followed by language-specific surveys for Romanian (Victoria
Popovici), Friulian, Ladin and Romansch (Otto Gsell), Italian and
Sardinian (Wolfgang Schweickard), French and Occitan (Anne-Marguerite
Fryba-Reber), Catalan (Germán Colón), Spanish (Bodo Müller), Portuguese
and Galician (Alf Monjour), and for Romance-based creoles (Annegret

The final article in this chapter, by Alberto Varvaro, is to some extent a
synthesis of the preceding articles, as it investigates methodological
convergence and divergence in the historiography of the Romance languages.

Chapter 3, ''Aspects of the Organization of Research on the History of the
Romance Languages'', is concerned with the different means available to
Romance historical linguists to communicate and share their ideas. Angela
Schrott looks at history and impact of scholarly journals, Wolfgang Hillen
at bibliographies, and Rebecca Posner at learned societies, congresses
and conferences. Finally, Andreas Michel discusses the role of the
historical component in research and teaching of the Romance Languages.

Chapter 4, ''The History of the Romance Languages from an Interdisciplinary
Point of View'', is a thematic continuation of one of the aspects touched
upon in Chapter 1, namely the role and relevance of historical Romance
linguistics in other fields of academic study. The first four articles in
this chapter investigate the interdisciplinary impact of Romance
linguistics on the historical study of other language groups. Following
Christian Seidl's discussion of the contributions of Romance linguistics
to the discipline of Indo-European studies, Maria Besse looks at the ways
in which Romance philology has influenced the linguistic historiography of
German. This is followed by similar analyses of its influence on
historiography of the Slavic languages by Helmut Keipert, and of the
Anglo-Saxon Languages by Horst Weinstock.

The last two contributions in this chapter investigate the links
between the historical study of the Romance languages and disciplines
outside the domain of linguistic study: Franz Lebsanft covers the areas of
History and Social Sciences, while Theodor Berchem focuses on Literary

Chapter 5, ''Prehistory and the Emergence of the Romance Languages'', traces
the linguistic development from the origins of Latin to its eventual
fragmentation into the different Romance languages. Dieter Steinbauer
provides an account of what we know about the prehistory and history of
Latin; Christian Seidl discusses the varieties that existed within Latin;
the contribution by Arnulf Stefenelli investigates which varieties of
Latin the Romance Languages may be based on; Michel Banniard considers the
issue of determining when Latin became Romance, setting up an interesting
system of diachronic isoglosses. The focus then shifts to the influence of
linguistic strata in the diversification and evolution of Romance. A
discussion of the methodological foundations of strata-based research by
Thomas Krefeld is followed by separate accounts of the influence of sub-,
ad- and superstrates in the different Romance-speaking areas: Iancu
Fischer looks at substrate influence in the southeastern part of the
Romance-speaking world, Paolo di Giovine discusses sub-, ad- and
superstrate influences in Italo-Romance and the varieties of the eastern
Alps, Josef Felixberger investigates the same issue for Gallo-Romance, and
Maria Teresa Echenique Elizondo for Ibero-Romance.

The final section of this chapter is dedicated to the emergence and
evolution of linguistic boundaries within Romance. Emanuele Banfi
discusses this issue for the southeastern part of the Romance-speaking
world, Hans Goebl for Italo-Romance and the varieties of the eastern
Alps, Jacob Wüest for Gallo-Romance, and Christina Ossenkop for

The final four chapters in this volume form a logical and chronological
progression, covering the death, the survival, the geographical expansion
and the creolization of Romance varieties, respectively.

Chapter 6, ''The Linguistic History of the 'Romania submersa''', is a survey
of the Romance varieties that have not survived. Christain Schmitt deals
with the lost varieties of Africa, Bela Adamik with those of the former
Roman provinces of Moesia, Thracia and Pannonia (in the Balkans), Flavia
Ursini wuth those of the eastern Adriatic area, Wolfgang Haubrichs with
those of present-day German-speaking areas, Karl Horst Schmidt with the
lost Romance varieties of the British Isles before 1066, and Douglas
Kibbee with those after 1066.

Chapter 7, ''The External Linguistic History of the 'Romania continua''', is
a survey of the external histories of the Romance languages that emerged
from late Latin and have survived to the present day. Wolfgang Dahmen
deals with Romanian, Hans Goebl with the varieties of the central and
eastern Alps, Luca Serianni with Italian, Rosita Rindler-Schjerve with
Sardinian, Christian Schmitt with French, Philippe Martel with Occitan,
Joan Veny with Catalan, Antonio Martínez González and Francisco Torres
Montes with Spanish, Ramón Lorenzo-Vázquez with Galician, and Andreas
Wesch with Portuguese.

Chapter 8, ''The External History of the 'Romania nova''', is an extensive
survey of the external histories of secondary Romance varieties that have
emerged outside Europe, highlighting their parallels and divergences in
colonial and post-colonial linguistic development.

The first set of contributions investigates the development of French
varieties outside Europe, with André Thibault dealing with the French of
Canada, New England and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, Ingrid Neumann-Holzschuh
with French in the United States and in the Caribbean, Dalila Morsly with
North African French, Ambroise Queffélec with French in Subsaharan Africa,
and Sabine Erhart with French in Asia, the Indian and the Pacific Ocean.

This is followed by two contributions on Italian in North and East Africa,
with Joseph Cremona focusing on the Maghreb and Lutz Edzard on Libya and
East Africa.

The next set of contributions investigates the external history of Spanish
outside the Iberian Peninsula. Irene Pérez Guerra deals with Spanish in
the Caribbean, Martin-Dietrich Gleßgen looks at Mexico, Juan Ramón Lodares
Marrodán at the USA and Puerto Rico, Daniel Schlupp at Central America,
José Joaquín Montes Giraldo at Venezuela and Colombia, José Luis Rivarola
at the Andean countries Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, Nelson Cartagena at
Chile, Adolfo Elizaincín at Argentina and Uruguay, and Wolf Dietrich at
Paraguay. Javier Medina López deals with the external history of Spanish
in the Canaries and in Africa, and Celia Casado-Fresnillo looks at the
fate of Spanish in Asia, mainly in the Philippines.

The final set of contributions in this chapter looks at the external
history of Portuguese outside Europe. Joachim Born deals with Brazilian
Portuguese and its varieties, Jan Reinhardt covers lusophone Africa, while
David Jackson and Angela Bartens investigate some cultural and linguistic
aspects in the history of Portuguese in Asia.

Chapter 9, ''The Linguistic History of the 'Romania creolica''', is
concerned with the emergence, evolution and status of Romance-based
creoles. Guido Cifoletti deals with the history of 'Lingua Franca', Thomas
Klingler with that of French-based Creoles in Louisiana and the Caribbean,
Robert Chaudenson with French-based island creoles of the Indian Ocean,
Chris Corne with the French-based Creole of Saint-Louis in New Caledonia,
and Petra Thiele with Portuguese- and Spanish-based creoles.

Together with the following two (as yet unpublished) volumes, this
handbook will provide a comprehensive overview of the 'State of the Art'
and the history of Romance historical linguistics. It is this
comprehensiveness that makes it a particularly valuable reference work.

Due to the sheer number of different topics and aspects covered, it is
clear that individual articles must be relatively short and cannot discuss
the more problematic or controversial issues in very much detail; the
practice of simply pointing out any such issues and briefly summarizing
and referencing the different positions, generally in an unbiased way, is
fully satisfactory.

The order and organization of contributions is generally logical and
clear, with some exceptions. Chapter 3 is somewhat odd in terms of its
very narrow focus; the final contribution by Andreas Michel would have
been better placed in Chapter 1, and the three contributions dealing with
the history of scholarly journals, bibliographies, learned societies and
congresses could have been included as a thematic group in Chapter 2.

Chapter 9 seems a little arbitrary in the choice of topics that the
contributions focus on. While there are three separate, detailed articles
on French-based creoles, the whole range of Spanish and Portuguese-based
creoles is covered in a single, relatively short overview. Furthermore,
the Italian-based creole of Ethiopia does not appear in this chapter at
all, but instead in Lutz Edzard's article in Chapter 8.

Two gaps in this volume are the absence of contributions on Mozarabic in
Chapter 6 ('Romania submersa'), and on the history of Judeo-Spanish, which
could have appropriately been included in Chapter 8.

On a more general note, there is a certain degree of inconsistency between
the stated aim to move away from the traditional focus on national and
standard languages towards a more variationist approach on the one hand,
and the organization of certain chapters in this volume on the other. It
may make sense to stick to the traditional subdivisions for the purpose of
a historical survey of linguistic thought (Chapter 2), simply because
Romance linguists have thought along these lines for centuries. But in
Chapter 7 (''The External History of the 'Romania continua'''), the focus on
a small set of isolated, in their majority officially recognized languages
runs contrary to the very principle of variationist analysis that this
handbook is aiming to embrace.

Readers of this book may encounter certain practical difficulties. There
is no subject or name index, which would be helpful in a book of 1152
pages. (But there will be an index for all three volumes in the back of
Volume 3.) Page numbers in the Table of Contents are not in all cases
accurate, and on occasion there are discrepancies between the French and
the German version of contribution titles. The most crucial difficulty for
many readers, however, will probably be the range of languages the
contributions are written in. With articles in German, French, Italian and
Spanish, the target readership for this book is severely limited. This is
unfortunate, as the 'Handbook on the History of the Romance Languages'
(Vol.1) is, all in all, an excellent, comprehensive reference work that
every serious library should have a copy of.
Kim Schulte is lecturer at the University of Exeter, UK, where he teaches
Spanish, Portuguese and Romance linguistics. His research interests
include pragmatic causation in syntactic change in a comparative Romance
perspective, the evolution and emergence of non-finite structures, and
contact-induced language change.