By Sari Pietikäinen, Alexandra Jaffe, Helen Kelly-Holmes, Nik Coupland
Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users"
AUTHORS: Andrew Radford, Martin Atkinson, David Britain, Harald Clahsen, & Andrew Spencer TITLE: Linguistics SUBTITLE: An Introduction SERIES: 2nd Edition PUBLISHER: Cambridge University Press YEAR: 2009
Michael Shelton, Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics, Occidental College
SUMMARY This textbook is a thorough introduction to generative approaches to linguistics. It is unique in its organization in that it divides its discussion of theory into three broad categories: ''sounds,'' ''words,'' and ''sentences.'' Within each division, a description of theory is presented first, followed by research in applied/related disciplines that support the previous theoretical concerns. Each section of the book is followed by short collections of exercises and recommendations for further reading. In this review, I will outline the specific organization of the text and follow with a critical evaluation of its contents.
In the introduction to their text, the authors state that the major perspective adopted in the book is that language is a cognitive system that can be studied both as part of a psychological structure as well as an aspect of social structure. It is immediately clear to the informed reader that the authors follow the Chomskyan approach to theoretical linguistics. They also raise interest in language acquisition, psycho/neurolinguistics and sociolinguistics as these fields can inform the theories of Universal Grammar described in the later chapters of the book. The remainder of the introduction identifies five related fields which will be examined throughout the rest of the textbook: linguistics (theoretical), developmental linguistics, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, and sociolinguistics. In the subsection on theoretical linguistics, the authors present the competence/performance distinction, as well as general concepts related to phonology and syntax. They introduce the concepts of Phonetic Form (PF) and Logical Form (LF) and present Universal Grammar (UG) as the principal goal of linguistic study, in addition to the study of individual language grammars. In their subsection on developmental linguistics the innateness hypothesis is discussed, including Chomsky's language acquisition program and the poverty of the stimulus. The subsection on psycholinguistics presents the general concept of language processing with a simplified model of language comprehension. Terminology such as aphasia, specific language impairment (SLI), Broca's and Wernicke's areas, and imaging techniques are discussed in the subsection on neurolinguistics. In their subsection on sociolinguistics, the authors present language use as characterized by variation among speakers based on societal factors and situational contexts (e.g. Labov's apparent-time approach).
After the introduction appears Part I, the first large division of the book. It is entitled ''Sounds'' and is divided into seven sections. Section 1 is an introduction that motivates the study of the phonological system and introduces the subsequent sections. Section 2, 'Sounds and suprasegmentals,' begins with a discussion of the difference between phones and graphemes and introduces the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). A traditional presentation of articulatory phonetics of English follows. In example words, British English is the preferred dialect for transcription, although the authors do include examples from other dialects in exercises and example data in later sections. The reader then finds a discussion of suprasegmental features, including a clear discussion of the differences between stress, accent, tone, and intonation. Section 3 concerns sound variation, focusing principally on sociolinguistic change. Beginning with linguistic and then sociological variables, the authors offer an engaging discussion of sociolinguistic variation via examples of famous studies such as Trudgill's work on standard-nonstandard variants in Norwich (1974), Milroy's research on social networks in Belfast (1987), Eckert's studies of jocks and burnouts in Detroit (2000), and Labov's investigation of rhotics in New York (1972). Section 4 concerns sound change, beginning with consonantal processes such as flapping, spirantization, and yod-dropping, and then moving to vowel change including merger/split and chain shifts. Broader issues such as regularity in sound change and lexical diffusion follow. The final subsection, suprasegmental change, discusses historical stress shifts in English that have led to stress-marked noun/verb distinctions. Section 5 is entitled 'Phonemes, syllables and phonological processes.' It begins by introducing the phoneme and discussing distribution. Here the syllable is discussed in detail including how to diagram syllables, phonotactic constraints, the sonority principle, and the maximal onset principle. The subsection on phonological processes introduces the concepts of underlying representation (UR) and surface representation (SR). A subsection on phonological features presents distinctive features, underspecification, natural classes, and how to read phonological rule notation. Finally, a very short discussion of Optimality Theory (OT) concludes section 5. Section 6 discusses first language (L1) phonological acquisition. This section begins by describing the early milestones in phonological development and introduces experimental techniques in infant research, such as sucking rates, head turns, and heart rate studies. The authors conclude this section with a generative theory of phonological acquisition (dual-lexicon model), which accounts for child phonological processes such as prevocalic voicing, fricative stopping, and vowel/consonant harmony. This subsection also describes concepts such as despecification, feature spreading, and Stray Erasure. The final section in Part I discusses speech perception and production. Experimental methods such as identification and discrimination tasks present speech perception. Speech production is presented with a discussion of error analyses, such as spoonerisms, anticipations, perseverations, and substitutions. These errors are motivated in a discussion of forward planning and the scan-copier model. This section concludes with a subsection on other aspects of phonological processing, which discusses poetics and alphabet development.
Part II, ''Words,'' is an introduction to morphology and the mental lexicon. This segment of the book is also divided into seven sections. After an introductory section (8), sections 9-12 introduce theoretical perspectives, and the following sections (13-16) discuss acquisitional, psycholinguistic, and sociolinguistic concerns, as well as an informative section on language disorders. Section 9, 'Word classes,' presents the reader with a discussion of morphological categories. This section covers lexical and functional categories, word formation, and derivational morphology. Section 9 ends with a discussion of inflection and inflectional categories. Focusing on the principal morphological properties of English verbs, this subsection examines agreement, tense, aspect, transitivity, and active/passive voice. 'Building words,' section 10, is a traditional introduction to morphology, defining morphemes, bound/free morphemes, roots and affixes. After the introduction of basic terminology, section 10 continues by examining derivational and inflectional processes with a discussion of the implications of these processes for the lexical representation of words. Other morphological aspects of English, such as compounding and clitics, are considered next. Here the reader learns about recursion and structural ambiguity. Section 10 concludes with a discussion of allomorphy, including the phonological/lexical conditioning of allomorphs, suppletion, and the Separation Hypothesis. Section 11, 'Morphology across the languages,' is a very informative section that takes the reader outside of English to view other morphological processes that are found in the world's languages. Discussing processes in languages such as Turkish, Latin, Chukchee, and Tagalog, this section introduces the reader to isolating, agglutinating, inflectional, and polysynthetic languages and processes. Inflectional classes are also discussed, including case/number endings, declensions, conjugations, and syncretism. This section ends with the difference between concatenative and non-concatenative morphology, with examples of processes such as reduplication, ablaut, umlaut, circumfixation and infixation. Section 12 breaks away from morphology proper to discuss semantics and the structure of the lexicon. It begins with entailment and follows with semantic relationships such as hyponymy, synonymy, antonymy, and complementarity. This section ends with the presentation of semantic distinctive features and a very short introduction to prototypes. Section 13 introduces the reader to the acquisition of morphology. Following a short description of early child speech, the reader finds a review of influential studies in L1 morphological acquisition, including the wug test and Brown's ordering of verbal morphology. Next the authors discuss developmental processes such as overregularization and how children's intuitions regarding morphology, such as novel compounds, reflect the organization of their morphological systems. The following subsection returns to semantics to discuss developmental processes such as overextensions, which are discussed in relation to distinctive features and taxonomic relationships. Section 14 introduces lexical processing and the mental lexicon. Serial-autonomous and parallel-interactive processing models start the discussion. The authors introduce activation and priming through examples of processing studies. They argue that serial-autonomous models are reliant upon phonology for processing, whereas parallel-interactive models arguably allow more access to contextual information. The following subsection examines Levelt's model as exemplary of the representation of words in the mental lexicon. This section differentiates between lexemes and lemmas, lemma-level and form-level encoding, and introduces a small set of speech errors, specifically blends, substitutions, and word exchanges. Section 14 concludes with another brief mention of prototypes and semantic 'distance' in the lexicon. Lexical disorders are discussed in section 15, which offers a detailed discussion of aphasia and SLI. This section presents the symptoms of Broca's and Wernicke's aphasia as well as related consequences, such as telegraphic speech and frequency, categorization-level, and similarity effects. Lastly, this section examines the inflectional systems of SLI subjects. The final section of Part II is entitled 'Lexical variation and change.' Section 16 explores cross-linguistic and cross-dialectal variation. Concepts such as borrowings (including resulting phonological and morphological changes), calques, and register are discussed within the context of language/dialect contact. From a historical perspective, the text discusses semantic broadening and narrowing over time, as well as amelioration and pejoration. The final subsection examines variation and change in morphology with examples from African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and East Anglian English, as well as empirical studies of phonological variation of '-ing' endings across dialects of English. In this reviewer's opinion, this final section reads more like a discussion of sociolinguistic variation of phonology rather than morphology. Nonetheless, it rounds out an informative section on variation that the curious reader will find both entertaining and informative.
Part III concerns the sentence-level of linguistic inquiry and comprises an in-depth introduction to generative syntax. This is the largest section of the book, divided into eleven sections. After the introduction, sections 18-23 cover theoretical syntax, and sections 24-27 introduce acquisition of syntax, sentence processing, syntactic disorders and pragmatics, respectively. Section 18 introduces the concept of the clause and presents the reader with basic terminology to discuss syntactic categories and functions. Included in this discussion are constituents, a detailed description of case with English pronouns, finiteness, and clause functions. Section 19 is an introduction to X-Bar Theory. It begins by introducing merger and the basic concepts of phrase structure, such as heads and phrase projection. The authors then motivate Tense Phrase (TP) through a discussion of infinitival subordinate clauses. The remainder of this section discusses tests for constituency such as coordination, spec-head agreement, case assignment in English, and the selectional properties of verbs. Section 20 is a detailed section which motivates and discusses the main properties of empty categories. An empty head for TP is argued for in various contexts including African American Vernacular English (AAVE), gapping structures, tag questions, do-support, and bare infinitive clauses. Next are two short subsections introducing PRO and covert complements. The final subsection of section 20 introduces complementizer phrases (CP) and determiner phrases (DP) and asserts that all nominals are D-projections and all clauses are C-projections. Section 21 introduces movement. It covers basic examples of head and operator movement, introducing important concepts such as traces and the Economy Principle. Yes-no questions are also examined, with polarity items offered as evidence for a covert yes/no operator in Spec-CP. This section concludes with examples of other types of movement such as topicalization and passivization. Section 22 introduces parameters with a discussion of syntactic variation, such as inversion in AAVE and null subjects in Early Modern English. This section ends with a crosslinguistic comparison of head direction in English and German. Section 23 closes the introduction to syntactic theory by discussing sentence-level semantics and LF. The authors present arguments for covert movement at LF via a discussion of structural ambiguity, thematic roles, and truth conditions. Very clear tree diagrams offer the reader examples of movement throughout this section and introduce concepts such as coindexation, bound variable interpretation and the Crossover Principle. Section 24 examines aspects of child syntactic development couched within Principles and Parameters Theory (PPT). In this section, the authors argue that the acquisition of syntax is limited principally to setting parameters. Examples of child syntax are considered, such as null subjects and non-finite clauses in child English. After examples of null heads in child DPs, the final subsection argues for underspecification of functional categories in child speech. Section 25 begins with a definition of sentence parsing. Next it examines processing studies that offer support for the previously mentioned syntactic theories. Example experiments include click studies and probe-recognition tasks for recency effects in filler-gap dependency. The processing of structural ambiguities is examined next, focusing on attachment preferences, garden-path sentences and center-embedding. The discussion returns to aphasia and SLI in section 26, this time from a syntactic perspective. Here agrammatism is described as a deficit in the interpretation/construction of functional projections, while paragrammatism is only mentioned briefly as it is considered a condition concerning lexical access not syntactic processing. Based on multiple examples from German, the authors close this section by describing SLI as an impairment of the inflectional system. The last section of Part III is entitled 'Using sentences' and comprises a traditional introduction to pragmatics. In this final section, the reader learns basic concepts such as deixis, prosody in relation to topic/focus, presuppositions, speech acts, the Cooperative Principle and Gricean maxims, implicature, Relevance Theory, and turn-taking in conversation analysis.
EVALUATION This textbook, as admitted by the authors in their introduction, is strictly an introduction to Chomskyan linguistics. The reader finds very few references to any linguistic accounts other than traditional generative grammar. This makes the text a perfect fit for use in intermediate-level courses on generative linguistics. However, for those readers/instructors who are looking for a broader introduction to the field, the lack of alternative viewpoints and approaches may be disappointing. For example, while the authors include a description of articulatory phonetics, which later feeds into their discussion of generative phonology, no description of acoustic features is included. While the text does include examples of a historical nature throughout, no mention of large language families, e.g. Indoeuropean, are found. Perhaps due to comments from the first edition, it appears that the authors have made attempts to include some presentation of alternative frameworks, such as their discussion of OT in phonology. However, these sections feel disjointed from the remainder of the text, as though they were being presented as an afterthought, rather than as an important line of research in current linguistic studies. As frequency has been shown to play a large role in language use and representation, some reference to usage-based theories as well would make the text a more thorough introduction. Similarly, unlike most other introductory linguistics textbooks (e.g. Fromkin et al. 2007, Bergmann et al. 2007, Curzman & Adams 2009, Finegan 2008) this text offers no contextualization of linguistics within the broader discussion of language studies, such as animal vs. human communication or Hockett's design features. This is likely due to the narrow focus adopted by the authors.
Perhaps the most attractive feature of this textbook is its organization into three predominantly independent, although smoothly transitioned, sections on sounds, words and sentences. This book differs from most introductory texts in that areas of research such as acquisition studies, psycho/neurolinguistics, sociolinguistics and diachronic change are not compartmentalized into separate chapters. Rather each level of linguistic inquiry is discussed first from a theoretical perspective which is then supported by and reinforced with studies from related fields. This approach gives the reader a strong understanding of both theoretical and applied research within phonology, morphology, and syntax. A possible limitation to this structuring of the text is that it proves difficult to examine these related fields individually. For example, if readers are interested in child language in general, they must consult three separate chapters of the book. However, in this reviewer's opinion, this nontraditional approach to the organization of an introductory text helps the reader better understand the various branches of linguistic research and the interdisciplinary nature of related fields.
A matter of concern related to the organization of the text, however, is its intended audience. As the theoretical scope of the text is narrow, so too is the intended audience. I would be surprised if this textbook could easily be incorporated into a true introductory linguistics course at the undergraduate level or be read by the layman with a casual interest in linguistics. While the title and organization of the book suggest that the text is intended for use by novices in the classroom, the authors indicate in their notes for course organizers and class teachers that the book is more appropriate for graduate students, students of more specialized courses in phonology, morphology, or syntax, or for students who have completed an introductory course which is at a somewhat lower level than what they are aiming at in this text. I agree that the most appropriate use for this text is probably in a more specialized graduate-level course, or as a basic reference for students who would appreciate a fundamental review of introductory generative grammar. This may also be the most practical application of the text given its length and in-depth discussion of the material. It would be very difficult to incorporate the entire text in an introductory course at any level. However, as individual courses of study, or as a reference, the three divisions of the text offer sound introductions to the theory and methods of research in each field.
Another strong point of this text is its exercises. The authors have included a large amount of empirical studies in the practice sections that give the student the opportunity to work with real data. One aspect that I found particularly appealing is that the individual exercises at the end of each section are referenced within the text itself. After each concept is introduced, the reader is referred to specific exercises at the end of the chapter that concern the topic under discussion. In this way readers may make use of the exercises as they read, not only once they reach the end of a lengthy section. One problem with some examples in the text, both in exercises as well as within the discussion of the material itself, are the examples from American English. As a native speaker from the United States, I was surprised by transcriptions of American English exhibiting non-rhotic pronunciation and unnatural sounding vowels (ex. 8, p. 46), lexical items that are listed as typical of this dialect which I do not recognize (p. 227), and sentence structure that is crucial to understanding the exposition of syntactic theory that appears ungrammatical to my intuitions (ex. 237b, 450a). For a North American student who is just beginning to learn to transcribe and to understand generative theory, these examples and the adoption of British English as the preferred dialect throughout could make this text more difficult without extra support from the instructor. At the same time, it is clear that the authors are very aware of their diverse audience and have included examples from not only standard British and American dialects but also standard New Zealander, Australian, and South African varieties as well as nonstandard dialects in the U.S. and Britain. This range of inclusion is impressive.
If we compare this text to other introductory texts, a few more observations also arise. First, after exploring the ancillary sections at the end of the book, it is surprising to find no glossary. While principal concepts are found in bold-face with clear definitions throughout the text, a centralized reference for readers at the end of an introductory text would be a very welcome addition to the next edition. Two useful sections in this text are the appendices which include the IPA chart and a chart of the distinctive phonological features of English. However, the IPA chart is unfortunately not the most recent revision, something perhaps overlooked for the second edition of the text. The book's bibliography contains an adequate listing of sources that are pertinent to the material discussed throughout the text, although many researchers whose work is discussed in the chapters are listed without specific citation or reference and are absent from the bibliography. Students who would like to read further on many of the basic studies described in the book will have to find the references on their own. The inclusion of the specific sources used as examples throughout the text would greatly improve this text's bibliography. Two final observations that stand out when comparing this introduction to similar texts is the discussion of sign languages and lexical processing. First, sign languages are quickly dismissed by the authors in the first chapter when they state that ''their serious study requires the introduction of a considerable amount of specialized terminology for which we do not have space in an introductory book of this kind.'' Given the extremely specialized terminology included throughout this text, it is unlikely that the inclusion of sign languages would have proved too technical. On the contrary, many texts do include reference to sign language phonology, morphology, and syntax, which offers examples of comparison between modalities. This would be a possible addition to this book, especially given the growing amount of bimodal research in the field. Lastly, the presentation of lexical processing is less a discussion of lexical activation and more one of syntactic processing with certain implications for the organization of the lexicon. The models are described with regards to their ability to use contextual cues to interpret words out of sentences, which is an area usually studied under parsing strategies. A discussion of the levels of representation in processing models and the interaction between them, the more traditional approach to the study of processing words in the lexicon, seems to be lacking.
The previous limitations notwithstanding, this text is a uniquely-organized, solid introduction to Chomskyan linguistics. The semi-autonomous sections of this book have multiple possible applications in graduate-level courses or as an appealing reference book. While not appropriate for true novices or for a broad introduction to language and linguistic studies, this text offers a stable foundation in the prominent generative framework.
REFERENCES Bergmann, A., Currie Hall, K., & Ross, S. M., (Eds.). (2007). Language files 10. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press. Curzman, A., & Adams, M. (2009). How English works: A linguistic introduction. New York: Pearson/Longman. Eckert, P. (2000). Linguistic variation as social practice: The linguistic construction of identity in Belten High. Oxford: Blackwell. Finegan, E. (2008). Language: Its structure and use. Boston: Thomson/Wadsworth. Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., & Hyams, N. (2007). An introduction to language. Boston: Thomson/Wadsworth. Labov, W. (1972). Sociolinguistic patterns. Oxford: Blackwell. Milroy, L. (1987). Language and social networks. Oxford: Blackwell. Trudgill, P. (1974). The social differentiation of English in Norwich. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Michael Shelton received his Ph.D. in Hispanic linguistics from The
Pennsylvania State University. He currently teaches general linguistics,
Hispanic linguistics and Spanish language at Occidental College in Los
Angeles, CA, USA. His principle research interests are experimental
approaches to phonology, the cognitive representation of phonological
structure, and language processing.