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Review of  The Handbook of Hispanic Linguistics

Reviewer: Meghan Frances Dabkowski
Book Title: The Handbook of Hispanic Linguistics
Book Author: José Ignacio Hualde Antxon Olarrea Erin O'Rourke
Publisher: Wiley
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Subject Language(s): Spanish
Issue Number: 26.3025

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Review's Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry


The Handbook of Hispanic Linguistics, edited by José Ignacio Hualde, Antxon Olarrea, and Erin O’Rourke, includes forty peer-reviewed chapters by forty-eight contributing authors. The volume presents the state of research on linguistic topics spanning the major areas of linguistic structure: phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics; as well as sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and acquisition.

The first chapter, “Geographic and Social Varieties of Spanish: An Overview” by John M. Lipski, provides a summary of some of the major ways in which regional and social variation are manifested in Spanish. Lipski addresses dialect divisions in Spain and Latin America, while recognizing issues with delimiting varieties, and goes on to discuss the major variation patterns found in Spanish, including phonetic and phonological, intonational, morphosyntactic, and lexical differences. Lipski concludes with a summary that looks to the future of Spanish, and wonders about possible effects of technology and migration on dialect leveling on the one hand, and on awareness and maintenance of varietal features on the other hand.

“The Spanish-based Creoles”, by J. Clancy Clements, presents an overview of the creole languages with Spanish-based lexicons: Palenquero in Colombia, Papiamentu in Curação, and Zamboangueño in the Philippines. The author first discusses the lack of Spanish-based creoles, as compared to those based on English, Portuguese, or French, in light of McWhorter’s Afro-Genesis Hypothesis (2000). The chapter further addresses creole formation as an evolutionary process related to language acquisition, processing, and production, before giving brief sketches of the sociohistorical background for each of the three creoles. Next, Clements provides a comparison of some linguistic features in the noun phrase and the verb phrase. He concludes with a discussion of the role of the Principle of Uniformity in the formation of these creoles, but argues that frequency and perceptual salience also play a role, as does the Principle of Economy. Finally, he notes some promising developments for the future of creole studies, such as the abundance of new historical information and DNA testing.

Chapter 3, “Spanish Among the Ibero-Romance Languages”, by Christopher J. Pountain, addresses the historical development of Castilian Spanish, and the extent of the role played by contact with other language. First, Pountain considers the origins and expansion of Castilian, particularly with regard to “secondary” dialectalization in the Reconquest, and offers an overview of early standardization efforts both on the Iberian Peninsula and in the speech communities that made up the Spanish-speaking world. The author then focuses on the influence of other Ibero-Romance languages on Castilian, mostly by way of noting phonological and morphosyntactic influences on the Spanish spoken in areas with other languages, especially Catalan and Galician. Pountain also notes substantial influence of Castilian on Portuguese (both in Iberia and South America) and on Catalan.

Anna María Escobar’s “Spanish in Contact with Amerindian Languages” highlights the rich linguistic diversity present in the Americas. After noting some of the most common lexical borrowings from Amerindian languages into Spanish, the author separately discusses grammatical features of Spanish in contact with Quechua, Mayan languages, Guarani, Nahuatl, and Mapudungun, followed by a brief section in which she addresses the commonalities found across these varieties, especially the borrowing of grammatical markers, and certain phonological and morphosyntactic characteristics. Escobar closes with a sociolinguistic sketch focusing on indigenous movements and literacy rates of the areas in which these Amerindian languages are spoken, and some final remarks that consider the effects of migration and urbanization on the future of these contact varieties.

The fifth chapter, by Rebeka Campos-Astorkiza, “The Phonemes of Spanish”, describes the phonemes of Spanish and their distribution, with attention to the major dialectal variants. Traditional accounts are presented, along with recent research in laboratory phonology. First, the author addresses the vocalic inventory, noting that while traditional accounts have described stability across dialects, there is variation in vowel production across and within geographic varieties of Spanish. The consonantal inventory is described next, with two main sections on obstruents and sonorant. Campos-Astorkiza then discusses evidence for two quasi-phonemic contrasts: glides vs. high vowels and the phonemic status of [ʝ~ɟ]. She concludes by noting some areas in which laboratory phonology has made recent advances, and mentions some topics currently attracting attention, such as inter- and intra-dialectal rhotic variation.

Chapter 6, “Main Phonological Processes” by Fernando Martínez-Gil, presents four types of assimilatory processes found in Spanish, three partial: nasal and lateral assimilation, spirantization of voiced obstruents, and voicing assimilation of coda obstruents; and one complete: consonant assimilation in Andalusian and Cuban varieties. For each of these processes, he critically reviews the most influential derivational approaches as well as constraints-based optimality theoretic analyses.

Next, Sonia Colina’s “Syllable Structure” addresses the significance of the syllable as a unit of phonological organization. This chapter examines previous and current research on the role of sonority, syllabic constituency, syllabic restrictions on segmental content in onsets, nuclei, and codas, syllabification across word boundaries, and the interaction between syllabification and morphology. Colina discusses the contributions of rule-based accounts, but also shows that constraint-based frameworks like Optimality Theory (McCarthy and Prince 1993, McCarthy 2002) can account for most of the processes where syllable plays a role, including onset maximization, syllabification across word boundaries, syllable mergers, coda licensing restrictions, and plural epenthesis.

The eighth chapter, by José Ignacio Hualde, reviews research on “Stress and Rhythm” in Spanish. The author reviews general patterns of word-level and utterance-level stress before discussing some of the contributions of Metrical Theory (Liberman 1975, Liberman and Prince 1977) to our understanding of the interplay between stress and rhythm and questioning its assumptions regarding the degree to which stress and rhythm are integrated, based on research on word-level stress assignment and rhythmic patterns. Next, Hualde explores the questions of quantity sensitivity and related restrictions on stress assignment, as well as issues associated with compounds, unstressed words, and secondary stress assignment. He also reviews the acoustic correlates of stress, and finally discusses the complexity of phonetic and phonological research on rhythm.

“Intonation in Spanish”, by Erin O’Rourke, describes intonation in terms of its properties and their relation to meaning, and reviews the literature on intonation in Spanish, focusing, as the field has, on describing the common utterance type features widely found across varieties of Spanish. The author also reviews recent research related to language contact and dialect-specific intonation patterns, and finds support for contact as a source of variation. Additionally, she mentions current research dealing with the acquisition of intonation, both in one’s first and second language. O’Rourke concludes by suggesting that once the phonetics and phonology of contours have been adequately described, the field may advance by further investigating questions of contact and acquisition and sociolinguistic issues, as well as conducting detailed pragmatic analyses and comparative studies with other languages.

David Eddington’s chapter “Morphophonological Alternations” discusses the major morphophonological alternations in Spanish, based on the attention each has received in the literature: diphthongization, diminutive allomorphy, velar and coronal softening, and nasal and velar depalatalization. He first addresses diphthongization, arguing that its productivity may be largely due to analogy. Next, his description of diminutive allomorphy leads to the conclusion that it is largely predictable by the base’s final phone, gender of the form, and number of syllables. In relation to velar and coronal softening, he finds little evidence to support coronal softening, and concludes that velar softening is related to orthography. With regard to nasal and velar depalatalization, he argues that these processes have received a disproportionate amount of attention given his finding that depalatalization only occurs in borrowings where the palatal would occur word-finally.

In the next chapter, Soledad Varela examines “Derivation and Compounding”, beginning with a review of the types of derivation, and the processes of suffixation and prefixation, followed by a discussion of derivation and argument structure, affixation and aspect, and productive affix ordering. Then she considers various aspects of compounding: constituents, traditional classifications, and types of compounds and their properties, including verb-noun > noun, noun-noun > noun, adjective-adjective > adjective, noun-adjective/adjective-noun > noun, and noun-i-adjective > adjective, in which the two parts are linked by an –i-, as in the word pelirrizado. Varela subsequently provides discussion regarding the internal structure of compounds, their inflection and derivation, compounds and phrases, and productivity and recursivity.

In the twelfth chapter, “Morphological Structure of Verbal Forms”, Manuel Pérez Saldanya looks at verbal inflection in Spanish, in particular the morphological properties of the categories of person and gender, time, aspect, and mood, and conjugation. He reports that person and gender markers are very regular with the only exceptions being present indicative first person and imperative second person, while tense, aspect, and mood markers are less regular with some cases of allomorphy in several conjugations and persons. He concludes that the main irregularities encountered are due to changes in the root vowel or final consonant, while inflectional irregularities are sporadic.

Chapter 13, “Forms of Address”, by Bob De Jonge and Dorien Nieuwenhuijsen provides an account of forms of address in Old Spanish, Modern Peninsular Spanish, Modern Latin American Spanish, including their historical origins, and their specific usage characteristics in Spain and Latin America. For Spain, the authors discuss the geographical distribution of ‘vosotros’ and ‘ustedes’ for both formal and informal contexts, and the spreading of tú to contexts in which the speaker does not know the interlocutor. For Latin America, the authors examine the total lack of ‘vosotros’ and the use of ‘usted’ in some regions to express solidarity, but spend the most space on ‘voseo’, outlining its morphology, the appearance of pronominal ‘tuteo’ with verbal ‘voseo’, or vice versa, regional distributions of ‘tú’ and ‘vos’, and attitudes toward ‘vos’.

M. Carme Picallo’s “Structure of the Noun Phrase” addresses the morphosyntactic properties of noun phrases, examining approaches to the argument structure of derived and non-derived nouns, possible functional projections for derivation and inflection under the Determiner Phrase domain, and the interpretation and hierarchical ordering of adnominal adjectives. The author argues that operations assumed to take place under distinct theoretical models leave some gaps and asymmetries, and concludes by suggesting that a theoretical model is needed that takes into account all factors of nominal constituency.

“Indefiniteness and Specificity”, by Manuel Leonetti, presents significant advances in our understanding of the grammar of indefinite noun phrases, by addressing three topics: bare nouns, indefinite determiners, and specificity. He begins with an overview of bare nouns, presenting well-established assumptions about them: their behavior as property-denoting semantically incorporated expressions, their absence of generic readings, and constraints on their distribution. Next he presents the variety of indefinite determiners such as the article ‘un/unos’, epistemic and modal indefinites like ‘algún’, and adjectives like ‘cierto’ and ‘otro’. Finally, he discusses some grammatical phenomena related to specificity, especially adjective position, Differential Object Marking, clitic doubling, and fronting constructions.

In Chapter 16, on “Quantification”, Javier Gutiérrez-Rexach shows the richness and variation in the landscape of quantificational constructions in Spanish. He addresses an array of topics related to the syntax and semantics of quantification in seven sections dealing with: reference; constraints on determiner denotations; quantifier classes; scope, polyadicity, and plurality; dynamics; questions; and degree. Gutiérrez-Rexach notes that analysis of quantification in Spanish has grown in recent years and its richness of quantificational constructions has provided new insights to this area of research.

The seventeenth chapter, “Structure of the Verb Phrase”, by Jaume Mateu, deals with the syntactic and lexical semantic properties of verbs, starting with the assumption that the latter heavily determines the former. The author begins by comparing two major approaches to the lexicon-syntax interface: one based on thematic roles and the other based on predicate decompositions. Then he applies Hale and Keyser’s (2002) syntactic decomposition of VP to Spanish, and finds that argument structure and event structure are represented in a layered syntactic structure of the verb phrase. Mateu also presents a case study of contrasts between Spanish and English Path/Result structures in the verb phrase.

Karen Zagona’s chapter, “Tense and Aspect” offers an overview of the main concepts of verbal tense and aspect, and the temporal information encoded by them. In her overview of tense, she suggests that distinctions traditionally portrayed as pertaining to tense are actually relations between speech-time and reference-time, as described in Reichenbach’s framework (1947). Zagona then considers the properties of past and non-past tenses in more detail, and follows with a discussion of tenses in embedded clauses and contextual factors affecting their meaning. She finishes the chapter by addressing traditional and recent approaches to lexical and grammatical aspect.

“Mood: Indicative vs. Subjunctive”, by Ignacio Bosque, reports some main issues and controversies in the theoretical literature on Spanish verbal moods. After giving an overview of the indicative and subjunctive moods and their triggers, the author considers the possibility of a unified account of subjunctive meanings, and indicates that while broad semantic claims of unity leave much to be desired, restrictive syntactic claims of subordination are correct. Next he considers research on the relationship of mood to lexical selection, locality, scope, and finally, co-reference.

Héctor Campos deals with the classification of sentences in his chapter, “The Simple Sentence”. He notes that classifying sentences on the basis of the “attitude” of the speaker, as proposed by the RAE (2009, 2010), as opposed to their dependence on (or independence from) other units or the nature of their predicate, is the most effective criterion. His theoretical framework incorporates insights from syntactic, semantic and pragmatic research and relies on the concepts of sentential types, sentential force, and illocutionary force. He addresses in detail five main sentence types that emerge from this analysis: declarative, interrogative, exclamative, exhortative, and desiderative, as well as dubitative and probability sentences, and notes that future research could benefit from incorporating propositional modality into analyses of sentence types.

In “Clitics in Spanish”, Francisco Ordóñez addresses the morphosyntactic, and to a lesser extent, phonological properties of the unstressed pronouns known as clitics. The author notes that they are distinguished from stressed pronouns on the basis of coordination, modification, emphasis, and isolation. He then discusses their source, different distributional patterns, namely proclisis and enclisis, and their movement to an inflectional projection close to the verb. Ordóñez’s analysis of clitic doubling suggests that clitics’ initial structure is likely more complex than previously believed, and he concludes by noting the complexities in the morphology – syntax interaction observable in clitic combinations.

“Ser and Estar: The Individual/Stage-level Distinction and Aspectual Predication”, by José Camacho offers a summary of the distribution of the two main copular verbs, ser and estar, accompanied by proposals in the literature that account for this overlapping distribution using either aspectual properties of the copula or the predicates, or both. He concludes that while ser lacks any aspectual properties, estar agrees with its complements in an inchoative feature. He also highlights the role of semantic coercion for a subset of lexically marked predicates in order to explain non-canonical uses of ser and estar.

Chapter 23, “Passives and se Constructions”, by Amaya Mendikoetxea, examines the involvement of se in arbitrary constructions (impersonal/passive and middle constructions), as well as anaphoric constructions (reciprocal, (pseudo-) reflexive, unaccusative/inchoative). After reviewing the descriptive literature on se (si in Italian), the author discusses its status and its place in the clitic paradigm, and then gives an account of the syntax and semantics of arbitrary se constructions, followed by an account of anaphoric constructions. She concludes by hypothesizing about the possibility of a unified account of se/si, for Spanish as well as all other Romance languages.

The twenty-fourth chapter, by Ricardo Etxepare, addresses “Coordination and Subordination”. The author begins by reviewing the basic properties of the two clause linking strategies, and then discusses subordination in terms of mood, including intentional and polarity subjunctives and semantic factors in the selection of mood. Next, he examines infinitive dependents, focusing on temporal properties and selection, control infinitivals, and raising constructions, followed by an analysis of the status of the finite complementizer in which he assesses nominal properties of que-clauses, queísmo and dequeísmo, predicative and modifying uses of que-clauses, speech act dependents, and nonselected que-clauses. He then reviews research on coordination, including asymmetries in coordination, plurality, distributivity, and conjunction, and adversative coordination.

In “Wh-Movement: Interrogatives, Exclamatives, and Relatives”, Jerid Francom expands on earlier accounts of wh-movement that focused only on interrogatives. He restricts his analysis to wh-interrogatives, wh-exclamatives, and restrictive relative clauses, noting that they share lexical, syntactic, and semantic properties. Francom provides several examples of each type, and then addresses each separately, which leads to the main theoretical discussion about the major topics with which research on wh-movement is concerned: the landing site of wh-phrases, the nature of matrix and embedded complementizer phrases, and wh-phrase extraction across clause boundaries. He concludes noting that recent research combining applied and formal accounts has resulted in a better understanding of wh-movement.

Luis Eguren’s “Binding: Deixis, Anaphors, Pronominals” offers a generative account of deixis, situated within the Binding Theory framework (Chomsky 1981). The author begins by describing deixis, with a focus on demonstrative determiners and pronouns, and continues with an introduction to Binding Theory. Next, anaphors and pronominals are discussed in detail with regard to their distinctive syntactic properties. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the problem of complementary distribution, which Binding Theory predicts that anaphors and pronominals must have; however Eguren outlines some problematic cases for this prediction, namely binding in prepositional phrases and emphatic and distributive pronouns.

In “Empty Categories and Ellipsis”, Josep María Brucart and Jonathan E. MacDonald analyze ellipsis, in which elements that contribute to interpretation and remain syntactically present, are phonetically unrealized, resulting in gaps. The authors review the nature, licensing and interpretation of several constructions that are classified as ellipsis: empty nominal and pronominal categories, verbal ellipsis, including gapping, Tense Phrase ellipsis, sluicing, and null-complement anaphora. While acknowledging the differences between these constructions, the authors note the contributions of the analysis of each as a first step to a deeper understanding of the interpretation of ellipsis.

Chapter 28, “Word Order and Information Structure”, by Antxon Olarrea, offers a summary of the research on the relationship between syntax, informational content and prosodic phonology, with a focus on simple declaratives. As the author notes, Spanish has a relatively free word order, but derived word orders that differ from the neutral Subject Verb Object (SVO) give rise to non-neutral interpretations of constituents: as given or new information, or as part of a restricted set. Olarrea first addresses the properties of neutral SVO order, defines topic and focus, and then presents descriptions of the structures that codify topic and focus. The topicalizing constructions described are: hanging topic left dislocation, clitic left dislocation, clitic right dislocation, and one focalizing construction, focus fronting is described. Next, formal accounts for the structures are offered, and Olarrea concludes by mentioning several areas that had to be excluded for lack of space: cleft sentences, fronted quantifiers, and focalizing adverbs, and he also highlights the importance of recent and future research on focus and intonation.

“Speech Acts”, by Victoria Escandell-Vidal, reviews basic notions of language as action and interaction, as well as the main trends and findings in this area for Spanish. After a brief review of major concepts such as locutionary/illocutionary/perlocutionary acts, the author focuses on sentence type and illocutionary force. Before discussing imperatives, interrogatives, and exclamatives, she notes the importance of considering the pragmatic meaning of utterances as part and parcel of their grammatical description. She then turns to illocutionary force and politeness, followed by a discussion of cognition and inferential process. Escandell-Vidal concludes by emphasizing the contributions of pragmatic meaning to grammatical explanation, and calls for further research to better understand overlapping categories, and in particular, the inclusion of intonation in formal accounts.

The thirtieth chapter, “Discourse Syntax” by Catherine E. Travis and Rena Torres Cacoullos offers a usage-based, functional account of syntax in discourse. The authors present a sample of empirical studies of discourse focusing on different issues, including: information flow in the realization and distribution of NPs, transitivity as a scalar phenomenon, nonreferential uses of lexical NPs, constructions as the basic unit of grammar, and additionally provide a case study of first person subject expression in discourse. Travis and Cacoullous conclude by arguing that grammatical structure is expressed in and derives from usage patterns in discourse, and call for further research grounded in these patterns in order to improve our understanding of grammar.

In “Historical Morphosyntax and Grammaticalization”, Concepción Company Company addresses major morphosyntactic changes in the history of Spanish within the theoretical framework of Grammaticalization. She presents a traditional definition of grammaticalization along with a complementary one that defines grammaticalization as the conventionalization of tendencies emerging from the discourse. She then discusses the ways in which innovative forms emerge and advance, including a discussion of the role of markedness, the hierarchy of the favorability of contexts for grammaticalization, the role of context, and consequences and pathways of grammaticalization. Before concluding, Company Company presents some controversial issues regarding the nature of reanalysis and its relation to grammaticalization.

Conxita Lleó explores research on “First Language Acquisition of Spanish Sounds and Prosody” in Chapter thirty-two. She presents the central issues in field, such as the basic units of acquisition, cross-linguistic chronological ordering of acquisition, the role of frequency, and more. After reviewing several theoretical models of acquisition, Lleó discusses existing research on acquisition of sounds and prosody in Spanish, covering the acquisition of consonants and vowels in general and in different prosodic positions, as well as acquisition of: the syllable, the prosodic word, stress, rhythm, and intonation. She also briefly addresses bilingual acquisition in light of the previously mentioned topics, and concludes by calling attention to the importance of studies investigating frequency effects and potential insights that further research in this area could bring.

In “Spanish as a Second Language and Teaching Methodologies” Cristina Sanz summarizes the history and current methods of Spanish language teaching, influential research on foreign/second language pedagogy, and current issues in the field. The historical review begins noting the lack of publications dealing with methodology until the 1800s, when debates about traditional and natural methods began, and proceeds discussing advances up through the opening of the Instituto Cervantes. Sanz then presents sketches of three major approaches and the research on which they are based. These are: Task-based Instruction (known as the Communicative Method), Processing Instruction, and Content-based Instruction. She notes the significance of Task-based Instruction and also presents the newer perspectives of Processing Instruction and content-based approaches. Before concluding by noting progress and future challenges, Sanz gives an overview of theoretical underpinnings of pedagogical research, focusing on early nativist approaches, contributions of sociocultural theory, and issues regarding the role of input, pedagogical interventions, and individual differences in SLA.

Miquel Simonet’s chapter, “The L2 Acquisition of Spanish Phonetics and Phonology” focuses on the lesser-studied area of the second language acquisition of the sound system of Spanish. The author first presents general characteristics of second language phonetic learning and two influential models, the Speech Learning Model (Flege 1995) and the Perceptual Assimilation Model (Best 1995). For vowels, Simonet reviews studies that investigate production of Spanish vowels by native speakers of both Quichua and English, as well as studies concerned with perception of Spanish vowels by speakers of English and Dutch. With regard to consonants, the studies reviewed here explore production and perception of voiceless stops by English-speaking late learners of Spanish and Spanish-English bilinguals, variable production of spirantized /b d g/ by English-speaking late learners, and the production of liquids by English-speaking late learners and Catalan-Spanish early bilinguals. He concludes that SLM and PAM models can account for and improve with further research on many more sound categories, including the L2 acquisition of prosodic features.

Chapter 35, “Theoretical Perspectives on the L2 Acquisition of Spanish” by Silvina Montrul, presents research on second language acquisition of morphosyntax and lexical semantics in terms of two main theories of acquisition, Universal Grammar, which posits a special human capacity for language rooted in genetics, and emergentist approaches with the view that language and grammar emerge from interaction. Montrul looks specifically at accusative and dative object clitics, null objects, and transitivity alternations, and discusses how research grounded in each approach has accounted for each. In her assessment of the relative success of these analyses, she observes that emergentist approaches better account for early acquisition, while UG approaches better explain later stages of acquisition. She concludes that neither approach can fully explain the range of phenomena observed and advocates for a position somewhere in the middle.

In “Spanish as a Heritage Language”, María M. Carreira traces the development of the relatively recent field of the teaching of Spanish to U.S. Latinos who are bilingual to varying degrees. A brief history of the field is given, highlighting the move from a prescriptive approach in the early 20th century to a comprehensive approach in the 1970s and 1980s. Next is a discussion of developments in the 1990s and 2000s, which brought a greater focus on Spanish heritage language pedagogy. Carreira discusses the development of new resources, including pedagogical materials, and research advancements in age of onset of bilingualism, input, literacy and schooling and motivation, before discussing more recent progress such as research on heritage learner’s grammatical competence, effects of instruction, and sociolinguistic research on language maintenance. She concludes the chapter by noting the vast progress made in the last fifteen years, but calls for more focus on connecting research advances to classroom practices.

“Acquisition of Spanish in Bilingual Contexts” by Carmen Silva-Corvalán, focuses on grammatical aspects of Bilingual First Language Acquistion (BFLA) of Spanish by children with exposure to both languages before six months of age. She reports that, despite the presence of bilingualism in all countries where Spanish has official status, BFLA is an especially under-researched topic. Before discussing contextual factors in the development of child bilingualism, Silva-Corvalán outlines some main research questions for BFLA, such as the role of exposure and input, and the organization of the two systems. She then compares bilingual children’s language development to that of monolinguals and finds many similarities. Finally, after reviewing research methods in the field, the author presents some case studies of morphosyntactic development, concluding that development for the dominant language proceeds in much the same way as for monolinguals, whereas development in the weaker language is slightly delayed.

Manuel Carreiras, Jon Andini Duñabeitia, and Nicola Molinaro discuss the psycholinguistics of word and sentence processing in the next chapter, “Reading Words and Sentences in Spanish”. For word reading, the authors review research on alphabetical orthography, grapheme to phoneme mapping, syllabic processing, morphological processing, and the close co-existence of Spanish with other languages. For sentence reading, major findings are reported for the processing of anaphoric relationships, and the empty category PRO, as well as some research investigating the syntax-semantic interface using neurobiological data and in the early stages of processing. The major conclusion is that the study of Spanish has made great contributions to this field, which had previously relied on English data, and that further research on Spanish and other languages can lead to a more comprehensive theory of language processing.

“Language Impairments” by José Manuel Igoa addresses the particularities associated with Spanish that are not found in language impairments of speakers of other languages. The author presents research on spoken language impairments affecting the phonology, lexicon, and morphosyntax of the speaker, followed by relevant findings of neuropsychological research on reading and writing impairments. He also presents a brief review of some studies done on language impairment in bilingual Spanish speakers, and discusses investigation on the collection of disorders and delays that fall under the category of Specific Language Impairment. Igoa concludes that while the study of language impairments in Spanish speakers mostly confirms findings of previous research done on other languages, it also provides new evidence for some controversial issues, like the processing of tense-agreement functional categories.

The fortieth and final chapter, “Lexical Access in Spanish as a First and Second Language” by Albert Costa, Iva Ivanova, Cristina Baus, and Nuria Sebastián-Gallés addresses bilingual cognitive research on the lexical access stage of speech production. The authors review the literature on the representations of and processes and variables involved in lexical access generally, and in bilingual contexts, discussing not only the effects of speakers’ L1 on their L2 Spanish, but also effects of L2 on L1 Spanish. They notably address the bilingual disadvantage and some possible explanations for it, including cross-language interference and frequency effects. Next, they discuss bilingual lexical control in Spanish speakers, as well as effects of immersion on the activation of the two languages. The conclusion suggests that the bilingual disadvantage may in fact be evidence of more efficient systems of language control, which extend to other nonlinguistic areas of cognitive function.


The Handbook of Hispanic Linguistics is a remarkable compendium encompassing a wide range of scientific inquiry on the many facets of Spanish language structure and use. While presenting complex research, it remains clear and accessible, constituting a valuable resource for not only for linguistic scholars, but also for advanced Spanish learners, and anyone with an interest in the field.

The Handbook is notable for its breadth, covering a wide and diverse range of topics, including phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, historical linguistics and language change, L1 and L2 acquisition, language teaching methodologies, and more. A variety of approaches are represented as well: qualitative, quantitative, theoretical, empirical, and pedagogical, and where possible, authors of individual chapters discuss previous contributions to their topic by multiple approaches and frameworks.

Advanced scholars of Hispanic linguistics can greatly benefit from this volume, but it is also impressive in its accessibility. Authors of individual sections, among whom are many of the most well established specialists in the field as well as emerging scholars, do not assume highly advanced knowledge in their subjects and are careful to describe terminology and concepts that may be unfamiliar to a less-experienced reader.

Due to space limitations and the need for breadth, the contributions did not manage to offer an in-depth analysis of the topics. However, most of the chapters note areas that had to be excluded, in many cases providing references for these in their extensive reviews of the pertinent literature, and the compromise of depth for breadth is justified.

Overall, the “Handbook of Hispanic Linguistics” is a crucial volume that not only presents the state of the art of research on many aspects of the Spanish language, it also opens new discussion on different topics and provides venues for further research, ensuring its relevance for years to come. It is clear, accessible, sophisticated, and wide-ranging, and is therefore highly recommended for all scholars in Hispanic linguistics, as well as students of Spanish, and linguists interested more generally in any of the topics presented.


Best, Catherine. 1995. A direct realist view of cross-language speech perception. In Winnifred Strange (ed.), Speech perception and linguistic experience: issues in cross-language research, 171-206. Timonium, MD: York Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 1981. Lectures on government and binding. Dordrecht: Foris.

Flege, James. Second language speech learning: theory, findings, and problems. In Winnifred Strange (ed.), Speech perception and linguistic experience: issues in cross-language research, 171-206. Timonium, MD: York Press.

Hale, Kenneth L. and Samuel Jay Keyser. 2002. Prolegomenon to a theory of argument structure. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Liberman, Mark. 1975. The intonational system of English. MIT, Cambridge, MA dissertation.

Liberman, Mark and Alan Prince. 1977. On stress and linguistic rhythm. Linguistic Inquiry 8. 249-336.

McCarthy, John. 2002. A thematic guide to Optimality Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McCarthy, John and Alan Prince. 1993. Generalized alignment. In Geert Booij and Jap can Maarle (eds.), Yearbook of morphology, 79-153. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

McWhorter, John. 2000. The missing Spanish creoles: recovering the birth of plantation contact languages: Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Real Academia Española. 2009. Nueva gramática de la lengua española. Madrid: Espasa Libros.

Real Academia Española. 2010. Nueva gramática de la lengua española. Manual. Madrid: Espasa Libros.

Reichenbach, Hans. 1947. Elements of symbolic logic. New York: Macmillan.
Meghan Dabkowski is a PhD student in Hispanic Linguistics at The Ohio State University with a specialization in the phonetics and phonology of intonation and segmental sociophonetic variation. She is interested in the contribution of intonation to pragmatic meaning in Spanish and Portuguese, as well as variation and prosodic interaction in vowel weakening processes.

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