Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 12:26:31 +0200 From: Luna Beard Subject: Reviewing Linguistic Thought: Converging Trends for the 21st Century
EDITORS: Marmaridou, Sophia; Nikiforidou, Kiki; Antonopoulou, Eleni; Salamoura, Angeliki TITLE: Reviewing Linguistic Thought SUBTITLE: Converging Trends for the 21st Century SERIES: Trends in Linguistics PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter YEAR: 2005
Luna Beard, Department of Afro-Asiatic Studies, Sign Language and Language Practice, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
The title of this book relates to the theme of the conference 'Reviewing linguistic thought: Perspectives into the 21st century' that was organized by the faculty of English Studies at the University of Athens in 2002. Both, in turn, relate to the widely acknowledged separation of twentieth century linguistics into different theoretical frameworks with distinct goals and focus areas. As the editors (2005:1) point out, research originating during the last part of the previous century in different parts of the academic community has actually promoted interaction in various ways. The aim of the 2002 conference was to address common directions.
The contributions included in the book indicate some converging trends for linguistics in the 21st century. It follows from the observations in the Introduction that the trends that are most prominently represented in this 429 page volume are united in two ways: (i) in their subversion of certain (generative) assumptions that have dominated 20th century linguistics, and (ii) in their concern for an interdisciplinary perspective in linguistic analysis. It is organized along these lines and consists of five parts.
The introduction to Part I provides a brief overview of the framework of Cognitive Linguistics, since the three papers included here draw on this theoretical perspective. The theme of this section is 'Relaxing level boundaries' and it is especially the dichotomy between semantics and pragmatics that is explored by Sweetser, Panther and Thornburg, and Cornillie.
The title of Part II is 'Focusing on level interaction'. It draws quite heavily on Greek data, as is the case in some of the other papers in the subsequent sections. Jaszczolt continues the semantics/pragmatics boundary dispute by giving an overview of the main viewpoints followed by a review of the current semantic and pragmatic approaches that make use of the notion of defaults. Jaszczolt argues in favor of the default modal status of expressions of futurity and also points to the need for distinguishing cognitive defaults from social/cultural defaults. In the second paper entitled 'Expressivity as an option of tense-aspect in language: The case of Modern Greek imperfective past', Kitis and Tsangalidis postulate a multi-level model of linguistic analysis for the description of the data presented. The analysis in the third paper is based on focus phenomena and word order variation in Greek. Here Georgiafentis shows how pragmatically motivated prosody interacts with the levels of phonology, syntax, and semantics.
All four papers in Part III 'Drawing on different theories' attempt to approach the analysis of their respective data from more than one vantage point in order to bring together different, but not necessarily contrasting, paradigms. The frameworks covered here are Gricean pragmatics, practice theory, frame theory, cognitive and functional perspectives and different traditions of contrastive linguistics. The starting point in Leeszenberg's 'Greek tragedy as impolite conversation: Toward a practice approach in linguistic theory' is once again the semantics/pragmatics boundary, here as in some of the other contributions, with reference to Gricean pragmatics. The advantages of a frame semantics approach to the study of generalized conversational implicatures is emphasized in Terkourafi's 'Pragmatic correlates of frequency of use: the case for a notion of minimal context'. In the third paper, 'Metaphor in Greek pain- constructions: Cognitive and functional perspectives', Lascaratou and Marmaridou argue that Halliday's functional analysis and cognitive semantics are methodologically compatible, specifically since they are both usage-based models. In 'Contrastive linguistics; A 21st century perspective', Kurtes examines the contribution of different linguistic approaches to the development of contrastive studies. She focuses specifically on the interrelatedness of contrastive linguistics, translation theory and error analysis and the European contrastive projects of the 1970's and 1980's.
The theme of Part IV, 'Exploring field interaction' refers to the relationship among fields such as semiotics, psychology and social studies and their contribution to linguistic theory. The phenomena examined in this section include language change, bilingualism, code- switching and politeness. Christidis opens the section with a broad theme, captured by the title 'The nature of language: Twentieth century approaches'. This is followed by papers by Enfield, Walters and Kallia.
The theme of the last section is 'Interdisciplinary perspectives on modularity'. There are two contributions included here: 'New directions for research on pragmatics and modularity' by Deirdre Wilson and 'Hearsay devices and metarepresentation' by Elly Ifantidou. The second contribution is closely related to the first one in that it explores how the mind-reading sub-module with its relevance- theoretic apparatus could apply to the interpretation and acquisition of two Modern Greek hearsay particles.
This volume thus offers a variety of contributions, perspectives and data. It is particularly well-structured in that, in addition to the general introduction, each of the five parts is also opened with an introduction that provides a brief overview of the theoretical perspectives and approaches that bind the various contributions in that section together. In this way the editors' views on converging trends for the 21st Century are also clarified.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Luna Beard is a researcher in the Department of Afro-Asiatic Studies, Sign language and Language Practice at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa.