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Review of  Perspectives on Semantics, Pragmatics, and Discourse: A Festschrift for Ferenc Kiefer


Reviewer: Andrzej Zychla
Book Title: Perspectives on Semantics, Pragmatics, and Discourse: A Festschrift for Ferenc Kiefer
Book Author: Robert M Harnish István Kenesei
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
Semantics
Book Announcement: 13.6

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Review:

Istvan Kenesei and Robert M. Harnish, eds, (2001)
Perspectives on semantics, pragmatics, and discourse: a
Festschrift for Ferenc Kiefer, (Pragmatics and Beyond, New
Series), John Benjamins Publishing Co.; 348 pp.; ISBN 90
272 5109 6 (Eur.) / 1 58811 053 2 (US); hardback. The book
includes bibliographical references and three indexes
(name, language, and subject).

Reviewed by Andrzej Zychla, Teachers' Training College of
English, the University of Zielona Gora, Poland.


The book is a collection of 17 papers dedicated to Ferenc
Kiefer on his 70th birthday. The renowned Hungarian
linguist, whose main interests focus on presuppositions
and modality, has also written on the syntax, morphology,
and phonology of a number of languages (a selected
bibliography of Kiefer's works is included in the volume).

The title suggests that the book should appeal solely to
semanticists, pragmaticists and discourse analysts, and,
indeed, the majority of contributions are aimed at those
audiences. There are a couple of papers, though, that are
relevant to general linguists, lexicographers and corpus
analysts (e.g. Wierzbicka's paper on Leibnizian
linguistics or Jajicova, Panevova and Sgall's paper on the
Czech National Corpus).

All the contributions have been divided into four, more
general, parts. The introductory matter outlines each
paper briefly and I made some use of those short reviews
while preparing my own comments on each contribution. Let
me now discuss the individual papers as they appear within
their respective sections:


Part I Pragmatics in grammar.

Casper de Groot, 'Functional Grammar and the non-lexical
expression of absence,' an analysis of the grammatical
expression of absence based on linguistic data from a
number of European languages. The author classifies
absence as a special form of deixis, with the event being
displaced from the location specified in the sentence
(i.e. the 'deictic centre'). Four characteristics of, as
he terms it, 'the Absentive' (itself a relatively
underrepresented phenomenon in linguistic literature) are
discussed and then accounted for in a framework of a
functional approach.

Henk van Riemsdijk, ' Far from simple matter: Syntactic
reflexes of syntax-pragmatics misalignments,' it would
be ideal it there was a theory offering autonomous terms
for syntax, semantics and pragmatics: the paper discusses
examples of sentences whose pragmatic meaning influences
syntax to such an extent, that it is no longer possible to
represent them as canonical trees without some necessary
adjustments. The author provides a few examples and
suggests that instead of deletion (the former proposals),
such duplicate structures should be posited on the analogy
of botanical grafts (a theory of grafts is the author's
proposal; he himself admits that it is still rather
sketchy but it already looks very promising). In that way
the principal meaning of the example sentences, as well as
the hedges, can be analysed more effectively.

Wolfgang U. Dressler and Lavinia Merlini Barbaresi,
'Morphogramatics of diminutives and augmentatives: On the
priority of pragmatics over semantics,' the authors claim
the superiority of pragmatics over semantics based on the
analysis of diminutives and augmentatives (their
derivational affixes, mainly). The authors question the
widespread opinion that all pragmatic meaning of those two
phenomena corresponds to the concept of 'smallness' or
'bigness'; they suggest an additional pragmatic feature of
'fictive' (more specifically: 'non-serious') that these
groups of adjectives possess. The evidence is taken from
cross-linguistic data, early language-acquisition, and
diachrony.

Bernard Comrie, 'Love your enemies: Affective
constructions in two Daghestanian languages,' this paper
shows that functionally identical constructions may differ
significantly in terms of their semantic structure (even
in closely related languages such as Tsez and Bezhta,
discussed in the text). The text focuses on affective
verbs and imperatives and suggests a more thorough
analysis of the Tsezic and Nakh-Daghestian languages so
that all the additional questions raised might be
resolved.


Part II Semantic compositionality and pragmatics

Dieter Wunderlich, 'Two comparatives,' the linguistic
data in this analysis is predominantly from Hungarian and
the author's interest lies in the two different syntactic
strategies to express comparison in that language (clausal
and phrasal ones) and whether they differ semantically.
The choice of two ways of comparing helps Hungarian to
avoid the syntactic clumsiness present in other languages.

Barbara H. Partee and Vladimir Borschev, 'Some puzzles of
predicate possessives,' this paper is similar to the
previous one in that its authors ponder whether there is
any significant difference in analysis between genitive
phrase John's in possessives like John's team and
predicate possessives like That team is John?s. Examples
of interesting puzzles presented (some of which yet to be
resolved).

Zoltan Gendler Szabo, 'Adjectives in context,' the author
examines the semantics of certain groups of adjectives to
suggest that context (both linguistic and non-linguistic)
should be considered as an important factor that may
influence meaning. The Context Thesis, that the author
suggests, reads: 'The content of an expression depends on
context only insofar as the contents of its constituents
do'.

Kent Bach, 'Semantically speaking,' the paper claims that
the notion of 'what is said' in uttering a sentence (vs.
what is implicated) is theoretically important. This
semantic and compositional conception is contrasted with
some pragmatic notions and then defended against
objections based on psychological, epistemological and
linguistic evidence for intrusion of pragmatic factors
into what is said. Further problems formulated.


Part III Logical structures and universals in semantics
and pragmatics.

Johan van der Auwera and Bert Bultinck, ' On the lexical
typology of modals, quantifiers, and connectives,' this
paper continues the tradition of the authors working on
the semantic and pragmatic parallels between modals,
quantifiers and connectives and it explores the
similarities between those at the cognitive and the
lexical-semantic levels. The relations are then depicted
in a three-layered scalar square.

Noel Burton-Rogers, 'Grelling's paradox: Its significance
for linguistic theory,' the author, having subscribed to
Ryle's dissolution of the Grelling's paradox, discusses
its significance to general linguistics (the notions of
use and mention and the type/token distinction and its
relation to representation in general).

Robert M. Harnish, 'Frege on mood and force,' the author
suggests a unified and 'extended' interpretation of
Frege's scattered remarks on mood and communication, which
helps to avoid certain problems evoked by the 'minimalist'
interpretation. His critical examination involves simple
sentences, as well as more complex ones. Seven conditions
of adequacy on a theory of mood suggested (based on
Frege?s ideas, among others).

Anna Wierzbicka, 'Leibnizian linguistics,' though the
author is clearly in favour of 'Leibnizian' approach, she
notices that it is not fully incompatible with the more
dominant 'Cartesian' linguistics. Wierzbicka finds some of
Leibniz's ideas particularly appealing: a) there exists an
innate universal alphabet of concepts that can be employed
to construct the semantic representations of any sentence
in any language; b) our primary concern should be the
study of words (not sentences); c) we should focus on
meaning and translation (rather than syntax). Wierzbicka
reports on the results of 'Natural Semantic Metalanguage'
(NSM) project listing about 60 primitive concepts (i.e.
'universal' words that can be found in all languages of
the world) arrived at through trial and error procedures
(the list has grown significantly from the original 14
primitives suggested in 1972).


Part IV Dialogue and thematic structure

Kerstin Jonasson, 'Naming conventions, focalization, and
point of view in Balzac's La Peau de chagrin,'
focalisation is 'the way in which protagonists are
introduced and referred to in the course of a narrative'.
The author takes the first part of one of Balzac?s novels
as her corpus and analyses the techniques used by the
great writer to arouse the empathy of the reader towards
some of his characters.

Monika Doherty, 'Discourse theory and the translation of
clefts between English and German,' the author is
concerned with clefts, sometimes the only device available
to express focus within a sentence. The close inspection
shows the way in which the stressed elements stand in
contrast with the preceding context. The author also makes
certain assumptions about the processing strategies that
clefts seem to activate.

Eva Hajicova, Jarmila Panevova and Petr Sgall,
'Tectogrammatics in corpus tagging,' an interesting
account of the syntactic tagging of the Czech National
Corpus. This is the second, much more 'manual', stage of
the procedure is demonstrated, the first being concerned
with mainly surface (morphemic) annotation. Quite a lot of
work has still to be done manually (100,000 sentences have
been scrutinised so far) but a few important theoretical
issues need to be resolved before the tagging procedure is
finished.

Jens Allwood, 'Capturing differences between social
activities in spoken language,' statistical insights into
the linguistic properties of 25 different social
activities (gained from a one million corpus of spoken
Swedish tagged for the characteristics in question). The
paper is concerned only with the automatically derivable
properties (e.g. parts of speech and their sequence,
collocations, similarities). The numerical data thus
generated provide reliable material for further hypotheses
and analyses.

Bruce Fraser, 'An account of innuendo,' the author
considers the essence of innuendo and how the phenomenon
fits into linguistics. Some previous work on the subject
is reviewed and criticised. The author, unlike his
predecessors, suggests that innuendo is, quite
surprisingly, intended to be recognised.


****************************************************
Despite the book's (partly) occasional character, it
contains a number of very interesting contributions,
classified into relatively few, neatly specified sections.
The collection gives a good idea of the current state of
research in pragmatics, semantics and discourse analysis,
at times focusing even on the neglected aspects and
phenomena (e.g. Dressler and Barbaresi's paper exploring
the relatively unknown categories of diminutives and
augmentatives). The more general papers make its scope
very much universal and thus appealing to a slightly wider
readership.
****************************************************

About the Reviewer:
The author of this review is an assistant at the Teachers'
Training College of English at the University of Zielona
Gora, Poland. He defended his MA thesis (a critical
evaluation of one of the Polish bilingual dictionaries) in
1998. He is currently working on his PhD dissertation
(Defining strategies used by EFL teachers and their
possible implications for dictionary definitions). His
interests include: (meta)lexicography and applied
linguistics (language teaching methodology and
translation, both technical and literary). He is also in
charge of the ELT section of WSz PWN's official webpage
(one of the major publishing houses in Poland).



 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER: