"In this book, Richard Kern explores how technology matters to language and the ways in which we use it. Kern reveals how material, social and individual resources interact in the design of textual meaning, and how that interaction plays out across contexts of communication, different situations of technological mediation, and different moments in time."
EDITORS: Broekhuis, Hans; Corver, Norbert; Huybregts, Riny; Kleinherz, Ursula; Koster, Jan TITLE: Organizing Grammar SUBTITLE: Studies in Honor of Henk van Riemsdijk PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter YEAR: 2005
Reviewer: Andrew McIntyre, University of Leipzig
On page 669 of the book under review, Henk van Riemsdijk is claimed to have said that “every linguist should always have at least 15 squibs at hand”. I would agree, as long as the squibs stay “at hand” and do not end up on paper, unless the topic is genuinely self-contained or the basic idea so promising that it deserves to be stated in an un-worked-out form. Imagine a squib whose concluding words are “I have sketched an argument that all nouns derive from conjunctions. For space reasons, an illustration of how this works exactly and a rebuttal of potential counterarguments must be postponed to future work.” Even if the argument had been ingenious, the squib would have been a waste of paper, not so much because the central thesis is wrong but because it leaves too many obvious questions unanswered. I have not seen squibs as inane as this. However, I have seen some pointless squibs as well as useful ones, and the book under review contains both types of squib.
This 700-page book, a Festschrift for Henk van Riemsdijk, contains 71 squibs, most under ten pages, on diverse areas of linguistics (syntax, morphology, phonology, semantics, philosophy of language), as well as a bibliography of van Riemsdijk’s writings. Given the size of the book, I can only summarise each squib briefly. A few contributions with self-explanatory titles will be left unsummarised. I lack the space and polymathy for a critical evaluation of all the squibs, so it seemed fairer to evaluate none of them. Evaluating the articles would in any case have been unfair because the draconian page limit arising from the exigencies of the outdated format of commercial paper publishing cannot help but eat away at the authors’ standards of explicitness and adequate coverage. I say more on this in the final section of the review, where I also question the scientific usefulness of Festschrift publications.
The book’s homepage contains an errata list, correcting some serious mistakes. See under: www.degruyter.de/rs/bookSingle.cfm?id=IS-3110188503-1&fg=SK&l=E
Organisation of the review: 1. Syntax, morphology, semantics 2. Phonology SUMMARY
1. SYNTAX, MORPHOLOGY; SEMANTICS
''An intersubjective note on the notion of ‘subjectification’'' by Werner Abraham. Abraham discusses critically the notions of subjectification and intersubjectification, which have been influential in diachronic semantics, notably in analyses of modality. He suggests that these notions are not necessary, and that the development of the semantics of Germanic modals can be explained by purely linguistic phenomena, notably aspectual considerations.
''A note on non-canonical passives: the case of the get-passive'' by Artemis Alexiadou. The participle in ‘get’-passives is analysed as adjectival, not verbal. This accounts for several properties distinguishing it from ‘be’-passives (e.g. reduced accessibility of the suppressed agent to grammatical phenomena, possibility of reflexive interpretations, as in ‘get dressed’).
''Displaced and misplaced genitives'' by Josef Bayer. Bayer presents some attestations of German genitives appearing sentence-finally, separated from the DP where one would normally expect to find them. This is argued to be a problem for analyses replacing right adjunction with remnant movement, since the leftward movement of postnominal genitives lacks independent motivation in modern German. Given the well-known problems with rightward movement and adjunction, Bayer suggests that genitive extrapositions should not be handled by core grammar but by prosodic readjustment.
''Preposition stranding and locative adverbs in German'' by Dorothee Beermann and Lars Hellan. This squib discusses the syntactic and semantic conditions under which German allows preposition stranding constructions.
''Moving verbal complexes in Spanish'' by Reineke Bok-Bennema. Sentences like (1) are often taken to involve movement of a verb out of a verb complex. The author argues that this is wrong, that the adverb “apenas” is part of the verbal complex, as is seen from the ability of the complex to move as a unit.
(1) El problema se lo quiera apenas mencionar. the problem 3.dat 3.sg.mas.acc wanted hardly mention ‘He hardly wanted to mention the problem to him.’
''Unbearably light verbs versus finite auxiliary drop'' by Anne Breitbarth. Swedish constructions in which finite perfect auxiliary ‘ha’ can be omitted are compared with structures found in various Germanic languages which have been argued to involve a silent GO (cf. English ‘I want out’). It is argued that the two elliptical constructions should not receive the same treatment.
''Extraction from subjects: some remarks on Chomsky’s ‘On phases’'' by Hans Broekhuis. Broekhuis contests Chomsky’s (2005) new version of phase theory which assumes a loosening of the traditional subject island condition. The data involve Dutch topicalisation and ‘wat voor’-split.
''A Chinese relative'' by Lisa Lai-Shen Cheng and Rint Sybesma. Mandarin Chinese relative clauses with the relative pronoun ‘de’ are analysed as gapless relatives. ‘De’ functions like a generalised lambda operator which interacts with the event variable in the relative clause.
''Approximative ‘of zo’ as a diagnostic tool'' by Norbert Corver. Dutch ‘of so’ (roughly equivalent to ‘or something like that’) is argued to be a useful diagnostic for identifying any kind of maximal projection. Corver shows how the test provides evidence bearing on a number of controversial syntactic issues.
''A note on interpretable features and idiosyncratic categorial selection'' by Denis Delfitto. The squib discusses some properties of the s-selection of verbs selecting factive complements, such as “I regret it that I came”.
''Transparent, free... and polarised: the (poli)tics of polarity in transparent free relatives'' by Marcel den Dikken. The author discusses transparent free relatives (as in “I discussed <a> what he called <a> far from simple matter”).
''The inverse agreement constraint in Hungarian: a relic of a Uralic–Siberian Sprachbund?'' by Katalin É. Kiss. Kiss discusses two peculiar facts of Hungarian grammar: (a) that verb-object agreement is ruled out with non-3rd-person objects, and (b) that 2nd person object agreement is possible with 1st person subjects, but that a special irregular morpheme is inserted under these conditions. Part of the explanation is a constraint, needed also for other languages, barring object agreement if the subject is lower in the animacy hierarchy than the object, whereby the animacy hierarchy is sensitive to person and number differences. This is conjectured to support an affirmative answer to the question in the subtitle.
''Syntactic conditions on phonetically empty morphemes'' by Joseph Emonds. Emonds distinguishes between a lexicon and a syntacticon, the latter containing closed-class items whose meaning consists wholly of syntactically relevant features. Only the latter can be phonetically empty. Emonds proposes conditions on the licensing of the empty elements.
''Long-distance reciprocals'' by Martin Everaert. The author discusses the generalisation in the literature that there are no non-locally bound reciprocals, and notes some possible exceptions.
''The notion of topic and the problem of quantification in Hungarian'' by Zsuzsanna Gécseg and Ferenc Kiefer. The authors call into question the generalisation that Hungarian sentences begin with a topic followed by a distributive quantifier. They claim that the notion ‘topic’ should be replaced by that of ‘logical subject’ (which term is used non-standardly and not defined).
''Questions of complexity'' by Casper de Groot. This squib addresses two questions concerning differences between Hungarian spoken inside and outside Hungary: (a) Varieties outside Hungary tend towards a less morphologically complex, less synthetic morphology and (b) these varieties replace the prenominal non-finite relative clauses of Hungarian Hungarian with postnominal adpositional modifiers.
''Functional heads, lexical heads and hybrid categories'' by Liliane Haegeman. The squib critically assesses the tenability of the dichotomy between lexical and functional heads, specifically addressing the claim that Italian “sembrare” (‘seem’) has a lexical and a functional variant, based on discussion of restructuring phenomena with French “sembler” (‘seem’) and Dutch “scheinen/lijken” (‘seem’).
''Concatenation and interpretation'' by Martin Haiden. Haiden suggests a variant of minimalist structure-building which aims at a more principled derivation of properties of the syntax-semantics and syntax-phonology interfaces.
''As time goes by: a digressive discourse'' by Hubert Haider, Masyuki Oishi and Shigeo Tonoike. A discussion of questions of linearisation in syntax in informal dialogue form.
''There’s that: unifying existential and list readings'' by Jutta M. Hartmann. The list reading of existential sentences (as in “Who was there? – Well, there was the doctor and Mary”) are often treated as distinct from other uses of existential constructions, e.g. because of their not displaying definiteness effects. The author argues against this, and argues for a principled derivation of both readings.
''Extended projections – extended analogues: a note on Hungarian Pps'' by Veronika Hegedus. The squib discusses evidence from Hungarian (with side glances at German) in favour of the idea that PPs contain functional structure.
''Classifiers, agreement and honorifics in Japanese'' by Masaru Honda. The squib argues that Japanese honorifics are a type of agreement morpheme expressing a relation between classifiers (seen as projecting a phrase between N and D) and the verb.
''What stranded adjectives reveal about Split-NP Topicalization'' by Hanneke van Hoof. The squib discusses topicalisation constructions in German and Brabant Dutch in which a nominal is topicalised out of a DP, stranding quantifiers and adjectives.
''Past tense interpretations in Dutch'' by Angeliek van Hout. This contribution gives a semantic analysis of the three Dutch past tenses (the present perfect, periphrastic progressive, simple past) the aim of which is to explain why the first two are unambiguously (im)perfective while the latter seems ambiguous. The ambiguity of the latter is argued to be spurious; the perfective reading arises by conversational implicature. The analysis is supported by a comprehension study.
''Recursively linked Case-Agreement: from accidents to principles and beyond'' by Riny Huybregts. Huybregts argues that Comp trace violations found in some languages, rather than being arbitrary, result from principled considerations, ultimately to do with the failure of Case-Agreement chains to have their features valued.
''Enfoldment as Economy'' by Takashi Imai. The author proposes a notion of enfoldment, which is unfortunately not defined clearly, but, to exegete its meaning from the examples, amounts to the claim that a hierarchy of heads can share specifiers.
''On parameters and on principles of pronunciation'' by Richard S. Kayne. The squib argues that the localisation of parametric variation to functional elements may be tenable, despite apparent counterexamples. A related discussion concerns the distribution of unpronounced elements.
''What to do with 'those fools of a crew'?'' by Evelien Keizer. The binomial “of”-construction exemplified in the title is argued to be right-headed.
''Why indefinite pronouns are different'' by István Kenesei. The squib deals with differences between indefinite pronouns and other nominals in constructions involving adjectival modification (e.g. “some interesting books” vs. “something interesting”).
''Seeing the forest despite the tree'' by Hans-Peter Kolb. This squib discusses the notion of ‘segment’ in the context of a tree-building algorithm.
''When to pied-pipe and when to strand in San Dionicio Octotepec Zapotec'' by Hilda Koopman. Koopman discusses constraints on pied-piping in a wh-construction in SDO Zapotec, in which a wh-complement of a preposition appears to the left of the preposition which has also undergone wh-fronting.
''Free relatives as light-headed relatives in Turkish'' by Jaklin Kornfilt.
''Is linguistics a natural science?'' by Jan Koster.
''Two asymmetries between Clitic Left and Clitic Right Dislocation in Bulgarian'' by Iliyana Krapova and Guglielmo Cinque.
''On dative subjects in Russian'' by S.-Y. Kuroda. Kuroda discusses an apparent instance of a dative subject construction in Russian, arguing that the construction is not a good example of this phenomenon.
''On the nature of case in Basque: structural or inherent?'' by Itziar Laka. This squib argues that case in Basque is inherent.
''Examining the scope of Principles-and-Parameters Theory'' by David LeBlanc. LeBlanc examines some tenets of (P&P) theoretical linguists from the perspective of a computer scientist.
''Clitics and adjacency in Greek Pps'' by Winfried Lechner and Elena Anagnostopoulou.
''A minimalist program for parametric linguistics?'' by Giuseppe Longobardi. The author addresses the question as to what possible parameters are.
''A syntactic approach to negated focus questions in Bulgarian'' by Krzysztof Migdalski. The squib argues that the position of the Bulgarian interrogative complementiser “li” in relation to negation, clitics and finite verbs is syntactically determined.
''The case of midpositions'' by Natasa Milicevic. This squib deals with the syntax of midpositions (as in “problem after problem”, “piece by piece”), arguing against a coordination approach.
''Quechua P-soup'' by Pieter Muysken. This contribution deals with PPs in Quecha, of interest because the category P does not have overt instantiations.
''Semantic compositionality of the way-construction'' by Heizo Nakajima. This squib claims that the “way”-construction (“I fought my way into the building”) is derived compositionally, contrary to what is often claimed in the literature.
''Soft mutation at the interface'' by Ad Neeleman. Neeleman argues that Welch soft mutation is a case of lexical allomorphy conditioned by prosodic structure.
''What do we learn when we acquire a language?'' by Marina Nespor, Judit Gervain and Jacques Mehler.
''The object of verbs like help and an apparent violation of UTAH'' by Christer Platzack. Platzack discusses the fact that, in Germanic languages with rich case morphology, some verbs like “help”, “serve” take inherent dative. The loss of this specific marking from Old Swedish to Modern Swedish is accompanied by a reanalysis of the object from being a beneficiary to being a theme, in accordance with the Uniformity of Theta Assignment Hypothesis.
''A note on relative pronouns in Standard German'' by Martin Prinzhorn and Viola Schmitt. The authors discuss the differences between two types of relative pronouns in German, viz. “d-” and “welch-”.
''Agreeing to bind'' by Eric Reuland. A discussion of binding theory, taking into consideration the idea that indices have no role in grammar.
''Positive polarity and evaluation'' by Hendrik C. van Riemsdijk. This is a translation by the editors of a term paper written by van Riemsdijk in 1970. It discusses positive polarity items, using Dutch “wel” as an example.
''Phase theory and the privilege of the root'' by Luigi Rizzi. Rizzi discusses the privilege of the root (the non-pronunciation of material at the edge of the root category), applying the notion (seen from the perspective of phase theory) to the silence of matrix complementisers and German topic drop.
''On the role of parameters in Universal Grammar: a reply to Newmeyer'' by Ian Roberts and Anders Holmberg. The authors criticise Newmeyer’s proposal that parameters of Universal Grammar are not relevant to the acquisition of syntax.
''Welsh VP-ellipsis and the representation of aspect'' by Alain Rouveret. The squib discusses Welsh VP-ellipsis, which shares some properties with English VP-ellipsis, notably what appears to be a counterpart of “do”-support, though the apparent counterpart of “do” is argued to be a spellout of little-v and to have aspectual import.
''A new perspective on event participants in psychological states and events'' by Bozena Rozwadowska. This is a study of object experiencer verbs in Polish, with special reference to their event-structural properties.
''A glimpse of doubly-filled COMPs in Swiss German'' by Manuela Schönenberger. The author argues that Swiss German doubly filled Comp constructions are sensitive to prosodic considerations.
''Missing prepositions in Dutch free relatives'' by Chris Sijtsma. The squib discusses the problem of Dutch free relatives in contexts with verbs selecting prepositions (constructions well illustrated in English by “I relied on whomever you relied”), arguing that it is the preposition in the matrix clause that undergoes ellipsis. Like many other squibs, this one leaves the proper solution of the puzzle ‘as a challenge for retired linguistics professors’, p. 582.
''Cyclic NP structure and trace interpretation'' by Dominique Sportiche. Sportiche discusses a difference between A- and A’-movement in cases like the following:
(a) Which pictures of BILL does it seems to HIM [t look fuzzy] (b) Pictures of BILL seem to HIM to [t look fuzzy]
Here (a) allows coreference between the capitalised items while (b) does not (at least for Sportiche’s informants). These data are used to argue that traces are not always interpreted as copies of moved elements.
''Appositive and parenthetical relative clauses'' by Tim Stowell. Stowell argues that, while all appositive (non-restrictive) relative clauses are parenthetical, not all parenthetical relatives are appositive. It is for instance possible to get a restrictive interpretation for the bracketed parenthetical relative in “The guy next door (that I sold my car to) was arrested yesterday”.
''Overt infinitival subjects (if that’s what they are)'' by Anna Szabolcsi. The author discusses a construction in Hungarian in which a focus particle corresponding to English “too” requires an overt pronominal subject in infinitival clauses and resists overt subjects in the matrix clause.
'''Wanna' and the prepositional complementizers of English'' by Tarald Taraldsen. Taraldsen argues that constraints on “wanna”-contraction (“who does she wanna invite” vs. *“who does she wanna win”) are not sensitive to the presence/absence/PF-(in)visibility of wh-traces. He presents a novel account of this phenomenon not involving contraction in all cases, adducing evidence from Romance prepositional complementisers.
''A note on asymmetric coordination and subject gaps'' by Craig Thiersch. The author discusses a type of asymetric coordination in German in which one conjunct apparently contains a subject gap.
''The representation of focus and its implications: towards an alternative account of some ‘intervention effects’'' by Jean-Roger Vergnaud and Maria-Luisa Zubizarreta.
''Circumstantial evidence for Dative Shift'' by Edwin Williams. Williams argues against the use of an applicative head in double object constructions and in favour of dative shift.
''Why should diminutives count?'' by Martina Wiltschko. The squib discusses the fact that diminutives turn mass nouns into count nouns in many languages. The account involves treating the diminutives in question as a type of classifier.
''Adjacency, PF, and extraposition'' by Susi Wurmbrand and Jonathan David Bobaljik. The authors discuss the fact that German and Dutch do not allow a string of clause final verbs to be broken up by extraposed phrases. This is viewed as a PF constraint. A theory using the copy theory of movement is sketched which allows PF to be treated strictly as an interpretative component and does not require syntax to look ahead.
''A note on functional adpositions'' by Jan-Wouter Zwart. Zwart discusses a generalisation that functional adpositions (in the sense of adpositions lacking clear descriptive content) are always prepositions rather than postpositions.
''Against the sonority scale: evidence from Frankish tones'' by Ben Hermans and Marc van Oostendorp.
''Why phonology is the same'' by Harry van der Hulst. The author argues that phonology and (morpho)syntax are organised in parallel fashion.
“GP, I’ll have to put your flat feet on the ground” by Jonathan Kaye. A discussion of the autonomy of the phonetic component from the articulatory component, from the perspective of a variant of Government Phonology.
''Abracadabra, the relation between stress and rhythm'' by Anneke Neijt. The squib argues that stress and rhythm are distinct phenomena, which can condition each other, suggesting that they are subject to global constraints.
''A prosodic contrast between Northern and Southern Dutch: a result of a Flemish-French sprachbund'' by Roland Noske. The article focusses on prosodict differences between Northern and Southern Dutch, focussing on (a) syllabification in morphologically complex words, and (b) vowel reduction. It is suggested that the differences are due to language contact with French.
''Final sonorant devoicing in early Yokuts field-records'' by Norval Smith.
I wish to denigrate neither the editors’ hard and competent work, nor the efforts of the authors in fitting their (often interesting) ideas into ten pages, nor Henk van Riemsdijk’s entitlement to a resounding encomium, but I think it is time to query whether publications of this type are in the best interests of our science, at least if published with commercial publishers. A backdrop: I asked to review this book because some articles in it seemed relevant to projects of mine, and buying the book was a non-option given its price coupled with the fact that many articles weren’t relevant to my concerns. When I received it, I found that the contributions I was interested in could not be developed to any useful degree because of page limits. The page limits are understandable given constraints on traditional paper publishing. But why choose that format? The time invested in dealings with publishers could be put towards inquiring into avenues for internet publication, which could be used for other publications as well. Internet publication would get around the page limit problem. Moreover, libraries would not be forced to spend hard-won taxpayer money on a volume replete with ideas which their defenders were prevented from defending with fitting attention to detail. Finally, internet publication would solve the problem of the obstruction of the flow of information caused by the costs of traditional commercial publishing.
One can perhaps (and I insert this hedge advisedly) query whether Festschriften in *any* format are a valid use of scientists’ time and resources. Except in the case of very prolific (or saintly but career-wise naive) contributors, the invitation to publish in a Festschrift is inherently in danger of being an invitation to offload work that the author might not otherwise have bothered writing/publishing. Normally, scholars who have something important to say will say it in sources which have a wider readership and greater CV-enhancement value than Festschriften have. Presented with a Festschrift invitation, contributors could well be tempted to submit either unimportant work or good work which has been or will be published elsewhere, and neither option is a fruitful use of time and resources. These criticisms of Festschriften apply however much the beneficiary might have done for the science. There are other ways to express respect and thanks to them.
I hasten to add that the book under review contained many more worthwhile squibs than pointless ones, which is no small praise given the potential pitfalls of Festschriften just described.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Andrew McIntyre (www.uni-leipzig.de/~angling/mcintyre) has a postdoctoral research and teaching position at the University of Leipzig, Germany. He mainly works on issues of the syntax-semantics interface in the VP domain.