Book Notices

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Review of Contrastive studies in construction grammar

(posted January 31st, 2012)

Contrastive studies in construction grammar. Ed. by Hans C. Boas. (Constructional approaches to language 10). Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. vii, 244. ISBN 9789027204325. $135 (Hb).

Reviewed by Natalia Levshina, University of Leuven

This book contains several contrastive analyses of constructions in English and other languages. Assuming a meaning-based (onomasiological) approach, the studies demonstrate similarities and differences in the encoding of the same meaning in contrasted languages. The volume is a significant milestone in the development of the constructionist theory and practice, which tends to focus on one language (most commonly English).

In the introductory chapter, the editor outlines the general aims and principles of this contrastive enterprise. The existing construction grammars have displayed a remarkable lack of interest in crosslinguistic comparisons and generalizations, probably as a reaction to formalist syntactic theories and the pursuit of a universal grammar. Questioning this, the editor proposes the detailed bottom-up meaning-based approach, which will ‘eventually allow scholars to systematically compile an inventory of constructions with equivalent semantic-functional counterparts in other languages’ (2). The ultimate goal of the approach is to identify crosslinguistic generalizations in the form of implicational universals and grammaticalization paths.

The first part of the volume contains a few articles that contrast English constructions with other Indo-European languages. The corpus-based study of English and Swedish comparatives by Martin Hilpert demonstrates that comparatives, though strikingly similar, display many surprising peculiarities at the phonological, morphosyntactic, semantic, and pragmatic levels. An article by Francisco Gonzálves-García compares the English and Spanish accusative-with-infinitive constructions and finds crosslinguistic differences in the division of labor between semantic and information structure factors, and also in the degree of productivity of the constructions. In her contribution ‘Conditional constructions in English and Russian’, Olga Gurevich demonstrates that the choice between two Russian conditional constructions allows for the encoding of the speaker’s viewpoint, whereas English conditionals can indicate different degrees of the epistemic stance.

In the second part of the book, the approach is extended to non-Indo-European languages. In his contribution ‘Results, cases, and constructions’, Jaakko Leino finds that the correspondences between the English and Finnish argument structure constructions are constrained by typological, cultural, construal-based, and idiomatic differences. In their empirical contrastive study of the caused-motion and ditransitive constructions in English and Thai, Napasri Timyam and Benjamin K. Bergen find that the constructions are marked by different semantic and pragmatic constraints, although the latter reflect the universal mechanisms of language. The article ‘On expressing measurement and comparison in English and Japanese’ by Yoko Hasegawa, Russell Lee-Goldman, Kyoko Hirose Ohara, Seiko Fujii, and Charles J. Fillmore investigates measurement expressions in English and Japanese. The tertium comparationis of the contrastive analysis is the semantic information from the English and Japanese FrameNet. The final article in the volume by William A. Croft, Jóhanna Barðdal, Willem Hollmann, Violeta Sotirova, and Chiaki Taoka revises the well-known typological classification of complex event constructions by Leonard Talmy. As a result of a fine-grained analysis of a few complex event exemplars in different languages (e.g. English, Dutch, Icelandic, Bulgarian, and Japanese), the authors devise a universal implication scale that constrains language variation in expressing these events.

The broad range of languages and constructions discussed make this book a valuable contribution to the descriptive and theoretical inventory of construction grammar. The studies also demonstrate convincingly that constructions as form-meaning pairings are viable units of analysis, which allow for crosslinguistic generalizations.


Review of Register, genre, and style

(posted January 30th, 2012)

Register, genre, and style. By Douglas Biber and Susan Conrad. (Cambridge textbooks in linguistics.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. ix, 344. ISBN 9780521677899. $41.

Reviewed by Natalia Levshina, University of Leuven

This book provides a theoretical framework and methodological tools for analyzing registers, genres, and styles in English, with a particular focus on the register. Based on the teaching experience of the authors, the book offers copious examples of register analysis, as well as activities and practical guidelines that can be used by senior undergraduates and graduate students in their own research.

The book consists of nine chapters, two large appendices, a list of references, and a subject index. In the first chapter, the authors introduce the fundamental concepts of register, genre, style, situation, and variety. The differences and commonalities between these notions are explained in detail. The first part of the book, which consists of Chs. 2 and 3, provides the analytical framework for studying registers. Ch. 2 explains how to conduct a situational analysis, and contains a list of important situational characteristics, whereas Ch. 3 shows how to link these situational properties with linguistic features and interpret them functionally.

The second part of the book contains a detailed description of different registers, genres, and styles. Spoken interpersonal registers (conversation, university office hours, and service encounters) are dealt with in Ch. 4, followed by a discussion of written registers (newspaper writing, academic prose, and fiction) in Ch. 5. Ch. 6 offers a historical perspective and shows the evolution of a few written varieties from early modernity up to the present day, whereas Ch. 7 presents an overview of emerging electronic forms of communication, such as e-mail, internet forums, and text messages. The final part of the book adds a broader theoretical and methodological perspective. It introduces multivariate analysis as the main tool of empirical research of registers (Ch. 8) and contrasts the notion of register with related sociolinguistic and functional categories, such as dialects, sociolects, speech, and writing (Ch. 9). Each chapter ends with a set of activities for overview, reflection, and analysis. It also offers project ideas for large-scale studies. The book has two appendices: an overview of register studies and a collection of activity texts.

In consideration of the authors’ outstanding achievements in the realm of register studies, the book is a perfect example of how the results of academic research can be converted into a ready-to-use toolkit. The book is richly illustrated with examples of texts taken from various corpora. The lists of linguistic and situational features of registers, based on the extensive empirical research, can be applied immediately in a new project. To summarize, the book provides theoretically and methodologically advanced, yet accessible, insight into the intricacies of register, genre, and style.


Review of Eighteenth-century English

(posted January 30th, 2012)

Eighteenth-century English: Ideology and change. Ed. by Raymond Hickey. (Studies in English language.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. xviii, 426. ISBN 9780521887649. $106 (Hb).

Reviewed by Josep Soler-Carbonell, University of Oxford

This edited volume contains invaluable information on eighteenth-century English, with chapters encompassing more formal linguistics and variationist studies together with other contributions looking at the subject of discussion from a more sociocultural point of view. Both perspectives are fruitfully put into dialogue, providing a remarkably positive outcome overall. The volume contains sixteen chapters with excellent contributions by experts from institutions from a variety of countries: Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It is, therefore, a truly international project on an important period in the history of English. The first chapter is preceded by a table of contents, a list of figures, a list of maps, a list of tables, notes on contributors, and a preface. At the end of the book, preceding a list of references, there is a twenty-page timeline for the eighteenth century with a useful summary of the most important historical events affecting the history of English, ranging from the late seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century.

As the subtitle indicates, there are broadly two main strands that are followed in the book: the ideological, on one hand, and the more formal linguistic, on the other. The majority of the chapters encompass both strands within themselves, while some of them are more inclined toward either one or the other. It can be highlighted that the book offers original insights resulting from complementary views on important aspects such as linguistic ideologies, prescriptivism, and norms of correctness and politeness. Other topics covered in this book include the role of women in eighteenth-century grammars (Chs. 3 and 6), regional aspects of eighteenth-century English (Ch. 12 on Scotland and Ch. 13 on Ireland), and the influence of writers, journalists, grammarians, and lexicographers in public debates about language and their role as linguistic authorities.

This book is a rich source of data and information on eighteenth-century English, providing an account of how actual forms of the language coexisted with ideas of it at a very important period in its history. This is why, as the editor himself concludes at the end of his chapter on Irish English, research on this particular period of time is so informative and yields so many relevant insights, not only for English language in Ireland, but also from a more general point of view. Moreover, the book is a good model as well of how to carry out research in historical sociolinguistics, whether from a more ‘socio’ perspective or a more ‘linguistic’ one, and how to reconcile both approaches.


Review of Language myths and the history of English

(posted January 14th, 2012)

Language myths and the history of English. By Richard J. Watts. (Oxford studies in sociolinguistics.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. vii-338. ISBN 9780195327618. $29.95.

Reviewed by Josep Soler Carbonell, University of Oxford

This is a brilliant book in the field of historical sociolinguistics, a model that can be used as a reference for how to conduct research in this particular area. It contains twelve chapters and is clearly written, which makes it a useful source for pedagogical purposes as well.

The main theme of the book revolves around the concept of ‘myth’: how myths are formed by ‘conceptual metaphors’ and how they help to construct particular language ideologies. If these ideologies are powerful enough to become part of a dominant discourse, then a discourse archive, in a Foucauldian sense, is formed. The aim of the book is not to provide yet another history of the English language, as the author repeatedly states, but rather to deconstruct specific myths that, during the history of English, have formed the basis of a dominant discourse on what modern English is.

There is a series of myths that the author deals with in each chapter, quite independently from each other, but because they are interrelated to a certain extent (some more than others), they can be grouped into three main sets. First of all, there are myths that appeared in the latter half of the nineteenth century within the context of the establishment of the nation-state. Using the author’s own labels, these include the longevity of English myth, the ancient language myth, the unbroken tradition myth, the polite language myth, and the legitimate language myth. Another set of myths that has resonance in other languages throughout history, and thus appears to be universal, includes the pure language myth, the perfect language myth, the contamination through contact myth, the decay and death myth, the barbarians myth, the immutability myth, the good climate/soil myth, and the pure language of the South and the corrupted language of the North myth (the latter being specific only to England). Finally, the last set of myths derives from more modern times: the English as a creole myth and the English as a global language myth.

The beliefs driven by myths need to be taken into account carefully, in particular if they are to be part of hegemonic discourses about language. To prove that that is the case and that they may thus bring about important consequences to more practical and applied terrains, the author discusses in detail the question of English in Switzerland and the misguided language policies derived from a blind belief in English as the global language. As the author himself concludes, even if there will always be lay conceptualizations of language built on mythical beliefs, as there have always been, as sociolinguists, we need to know as much about the myths as possible. This volume provides a remarkable way to look at and analyze them.


Review of An introduction to Proto-Indo-European

(posted January 13th, 2012)

An introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the early Indo-European languages. By Joseph Voyles and Charles Barrack. Pp. viii, 647. Bloomington, IN: Slavica, 2009. ISBN 9780893573423. $49.95.

Reviewed by Mark J. Elson, University of Virginia

Following a first chapter presenting terminology, methodology, and a survey of the phonology and morphology of Proto-Indo-European, each chapter of this useful book provides a synchronic phonology and historico-synchronic morphology of one of the ancient Indo-European languages, and includes as well an inventory of the sound changes, with attention to relative chronology, which relate the language to Proto-Indo-European. There are, in addition, exercises and a short text for each language, with each word of the latter parsed. The book is intended for students, its goal being to provide the necessary background for transition to more detailed treatments, which are often inaccessible to beginners. The languages included are Gothic (41–120), Latin (121–214), Greek (215–310), Old Irish (311–92), Old Church Slavic (393–472), Sanskrit (473–562), and Hittite (563–612). The book concludes with references (613–20) and word indices (621–47).

There are features of this book which some will criticize. Perhaps foremost among them is the theoretical structure that the authors introduce in the first chapter for the presentation of data. This structure, to the extent it qualifies as a coherent framework, is best described as early generative, including four components termed levels: deep, transformational, morphological, and phonological. The authors’ brief commentary (2–6) reveals that the deep and transformational levels are essentially syntactic. It is difficult to see their relevance because syntax plays no role in this book. The morphological and phonological levels as the authors conceive them require nothing more than a basic knowledge of the traditional morpheme, phoneme, and associated concepts (e.g. allomorph, phonological feature, allophone). There is a description of the comparative method (6–7), but no discussion of the important associated concept of sound change and its relevance to the realization of morphemes. The authors may believe they have attended to these concepts in their theoretical structure under the headings, respectively, of phonological rule and morphological rule. If so, however, there is a concomitant, albeit tacit, likening of reconstructions to synchronically motivated underlying representations, an equation that will not suit all users of this book.

Another difficulty is the impression given that a proto-language is always related more or less directly to its attested daughters, which ignores the generally accepted assumption that other proto-languages may intervene. In the case of Slavic, for example, the authors’ presentation, despite their division of the period preceding Old Church Slavic into stages (393–94) and the comment that some of the changes affected ‘the Slavic area’ (363), suggests a direct connection between sound changes like the first palatalization of velars and Old Church Slavic, obscuring the fact that such changes are best understood as having occurred within Common Slavic, a reconstructed period of common development that takes reconstructed Proto-Slavic as its point of departure. Finally, and despite the claim of the authors, there is no significant analysis in the presentation of the ancient morphologies. There is only an inventory of forms paradigmatically arranged and accompanied by their reconstructed etyma morphologically, divided according to their Indo-European constituents. Language-specific details of the evolution of the inherited nominal and verbal systems are left virtually unattended.

Instructors will nevertheless recognize the potential of this book in linguistic curricula which offer specialization in Indo-European linguistics. The difficulties are relatively superficial, and easily remedied by the use of any currently available general introduction to historical linguistics in combination with language-specific clarification and amplification provided in the classroom.


Review of Elementary Kurmanji grammar

(posted January 12th, 2012)

Elementary Kurmanji grammar. By Ely Bannister Soane. (Lincom gramatica 71.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2010. Reprint of 1919 edition. Pp. 197. ISBN 9783862901654. $84.

Reviewed by Elly van Gelderen, Arizona State University

This book is a reprint of the 1919 edition, printed in Baghdad at the Government Press. There is no preface or explanation for why the book was reprinted, which would have been helpful to know. The author wrote many articles and books about Kurdish and is well-known for his book To Mesopotamia and Kurdistan in disguise (Cosimo Inc, 2007); he also wrote Grammar of the Kurmanji or Kurdish language (Luzac and Co., 1913).

Kurdish, an Indo-European language of the Iranian branch, forms a dialect continuum with three standardized varieties, one of which is Kurmanji. The elementary grammar was meant to be a guide for officers with duties in southern Kurdistan; the dialect is that of Sulaimaniyah. This book can still be of use as a grammar for people learning introductory Kurdish. It begins with a brief description of the sounds and then discusses characteristics of the noun (the singular, plural, and diminutive), provides a word list of about forty words and two sets of exercises. This pattern of short grammatical explanation followed by new vocabulary and exercises repeats itself. The series of grammatical points, vocabulary, and exercises are followed by an English–Kurmanji word list of seventy-four pages and two appendices.

The grammatical topics that S deals with are the five cases of the noun, derivational suffixes, independent and enclitic personal pronouns, other pronouns, adjectives, and numerals, as well as eleven pages of paradigms for the auxiliaries ‘to be’ and ‘to become’, five pages on the absence of the verb ‘to have’, eight pages on the first conjugation (the transitive verb), fourteen pages on the other four conjugations (the intransitive, causal, and passives), compound verbs with chun ‘to go’ and keshan ‘to pull’, the adverb, conjunctions, and prepositions. There are two pages on syntax and idioms and a chart on the constructions of the sentence. The intricacies of the languages look to have been viewed as residing in the morphology and not in the syntax.

Some of the grammatical points that S describes are interesting but often raise more questions; this is to be expected from a short grammar. Kurmanji is split ergative language; that is, the past tense verb (but not the present tense one) agrees with the object of the transitive verb in the same way as it does with subjects of intransitives. There are only hints of this in a description of the pronominal system. S makes an interesting point that the diminutive -aka, which he considers a number, ‘has largely lost its meaning’ and is used as a euphonic (3). In such a case, it would be beneficial to have a little more insight from texts. In short, in studying a language, it is always helpful to have the use of a multitude of grammars, written for different audiences. This book serves this purpose for learners of Kurdish.


Review of Dialect and literacy

(posted January 11th, 2012)

Dialect and literacy: An examination of language. By Lucy Silver. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace, 2011. Pp. 309. ISBN 1439266867. $15.

Reviewed by Michael Cahill, SIL International

This book, self-published, is a potpourri, covering everything from language origins to all major branches of linguistics to dialects to a history of writing and current literacy, citing scholars from Piaget to Montessori to McLuhan. The larger purpose of the book is unclear, but one of its salient themes contrasts literacy and spoken language.

Fourteen chapters are grouped into four larger sections. The first (‘Communication, thought, imagery and language’) focuses on the relation of intelligence to language, explores basic subdisciplines of linguistics, and discusses first-language acquisition. The second section (‘Writing and civilization’) provides an interesting account of the history of writing, including a brief history of the English language, and also traces the development of the English alphabet.

The third section (‘The development of literacy’) makes the often-overlooked point that scripts of the world are often tied to religious systems, not language families. The author discusses educational systems throughout the centuries. Definitions of levels of literacy are useful, as well as statistics on the current state of education in the United States. The chapter on the history of American education, including the challenges of student diversity, leads naturally to discussion of the role of dialects in the classroom.

The following section (‘The oral connection’) examines African-American and Hispanic English (‘Spanglish’) speech in detail, stylistically, grammatically, and phonologically. The concluding chapter revisits social stratification and dialects, and raises the question of how electronic media (e.g. Twitter) are redefining literacy in terms of being closer to speech than previous written norms.

This book could be described as ambitious. It is difficult to find a book that covers so broad a range of topics in linguistics, theoretical and applied, but the book lacks focus. The author presents a lot of valuable information about language and literacy but does not connect this information systematically. One particularly positive point of this book is its many charts, some of them of the author’s own devising. These include pages of Greek and Latin roots and affixes which have descended into English, pages of Germanic and Latinate sources for modern English words, and charts of cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Mayan logograms, runes, and symbols used in many orthographies today.

The layman or undergraduate will find this book interesting and informative. However, the book contains a significant number of errors. In the first section, we find an uncritical acceptance of ‘ape language’, saying ‘our [ape] cousins can learn to use symbols at the level of a two-year-old human’ (17), an English phoneme chart (43) with at least three errors, and a listing of both /e/ and /ei/ as English phonemes (44, 65). Later, the author claims that only five percent of the world’s languages have ever been put in writing (87), refers to cuneiform as a language rather than a script (89), and claims that /i,u,a/ are common to all human languages (100). In spite of details such as these, the book is enjoyable to read.


Review of Grammar in use across time and space

(posted January 10th, 2012)

Grammar in use across time and space: Deconstructing the Japanese ‘dative subject’ construction. By Misumi Sadler. (Studies in discourse and grammar 20.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007. Pp. xiv, 212. ISBN 9789027226303. $158 (Hb).

Reviewed by Linda A. Lanz, College of William and Mary

Misumi Sadler’s book presents an extensive corpus study of the Japanese dative subject construction in which a core argument receives non-canonical case marking. The first Japanese dative subject study to use natural spoken discourse data in addition to written data, it aims to fill gaps in our understanding left by previous studies, which relied solely on constructed examples. First and foremost is the goal to explicate the discourse properties of the so-called dative subject and determine to what extent it is influenced by genre. This goal stems from S’s observation that the dative subject construction so hotly debated by syntacticians is rare in actual speech. Ultimately, S seeks to provide a usage-based account of dative NPs in Modern Japanese discourse, drawing from both discourse-pragmatic and syntactic data.

Ch. 1 introduces the dative subject construction, presents shortfalls of previous approaches in an extensive literature review, and defines the author’s theoretical approach. The dative subject construction is one in which a core argument takes dative case. S questions assumptions about the transitivity of the dative subject construction and the subjecthood of the dative-marked NP, rejecting, for example, the subject honorification test for subjecthood. S notes that based on natural discourse data, subject honorification fails as a reliable test. Finally, because linguists often claim that speech is primary while at the same time largely relying on written or constructed data, S uses a corpus of speech and natural written narrative rather than constructed data.

Ch. 2 describes the types of spoken and written data used as well as the methodology S adopts. Her Modern Japanese data are a corpus of twenty-six natural conversations and twelve contemporary Japanese novels, and her methodology is rigorous in both selection of data and coding of tokens. Both sets of data are coded for features such as register, person, sex (of speaker/author), and age (of speaker/intended reader). In Chs. 3 and 4, S examines the dative subject in Modern Japanese spoken and written discourse, respectively. S separates her written data into two groups: written narrative and written conversation.

In Ch. 5, S presents diachronic data on the origin and development of the dative subject construction, using Old Japanese and Classical Japanese texts from the seventh to the twentieth centuries. She begins with the assumption that dative subjects arose when the dative marker ni broadened its semantic scope from stative locative NPs to include human referents via metonymy. S is as rigorous with her pre-modern texts as she is with her modern data, with one small exception: S counts all tokens of ni in pre-modern Japanese as a case marker, ignoring the multiple diachronic sources of Modern Japanese ni (such as the Old Japanese defective verb n-i ‘to be-INF’).

Ch. 6 reiterates the results of the previous chapters and works them into a coherent data-oriented theory of the dative subject construction. In this, S succeeds admirably, demonstrating that the dative subject construction is highly pragmatically oriented in Japanese discourse. Not only is it exceedingly rare in spoken Japanese, but previous researchers made many faulty assumptions about its usage, for which S presents data to address in detail.

This book is an excellent example of adopting a usage-based approach in syntax. S has demonstrated the necessity of natural data in syntactic description and, in doing so, has contributed greatly to corpus linguistics, Japanese syntax and semantics, and diachronic linguistics.


Review of Corpus and sociolinguistics

(posted January 9th, 2012)

Corpus and sociolinguistics: Investigating age and gender in female talk. By Bróna Murphy. (Studies in corpus linguistics 38.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. xviii, 231. ISBN 9789027223128. $143 (Hb).

Reviewed by Irene Theodoropoulou, Qatar University

This book is about sociolinguistic variation in a corpus of casual Irish English conversations among adults. Ch. 1 discusses age as an under-researched sociolinguistic variable, relative to other identities such as gender and ethnicity, and argues for a corpus-based approach based on the following two criteria: (i) reliability of corpora, given that they contain real language used by real people in natural settings, and (ii) a combination of quantitative and qualitative treatment of data, translated into running concordance searches, identifying the frequency of use of specific items, and exploring the associations between language and social contexts.

Ch. 2 contextualizes age-related research by reviewing key studies in the fields of discourse analysis, conversation analysis, variationist sociolinguistics, and variational pragmatics. Ch. 3 focuses on how to build and use a corpus for age-related research by attending to issues, including the size of the corpus, descriptive and interpretative issues, and transcription issues. This chapter contains a thorough description of the corpus and its methodology. Chs. 4 and 5 focus on variation at the level of discourse: Ch. 4 illustrates that variation in hedging (i.e. a linguistic strategy used to mitigate assertiveness) is constrained by conversation type (e.g. sensitive issues versus neutral topics), relationship, and life stage rather than chronological age. Ch. 5 argues that vague category markers, namely assumed categories due to shared social space, are multifunctional forms with interpersonally defined roles, whose variation is constrained by life stage.

Chs. 6 and 7 delve into variation at the level of grammar. Ch. 6 shows that the sociolinguistic variation in amplifiers, such as very, really, and so, is explained on the basis of the participants’ life stage. Moreover, very is seen as a marker for older ages, while really marks younger adults, and so is used before adjectives by all groups of adults. Ch. 7 argues that boosters (i.e. lexical items that assertively express a viewpoint) are used primarily by an older female population as an index of their empowerment, stemming from worldly knowledge and life experience they have acquired throughout their lifespan.

Ch. 8, dealing with lexis, establishes that there is a qualitative difference in the use of taboo language by adults. While older groups prefer religious references whose pragmatic meaning has eclipsed their original meaning, younger groups prefer stronger expression found in expletives, and middle-aged people tend to avoid the use of taboo language. Ch. 9 summarizes the findings of this study, states its limitations, and makes a case for treating age as an important macro-sociolinguistic factor in variationist pragmatics studies.

Overall, the basic asset of this book is its robust methodology, which has yielded useful patterns for sociolinguistically interpreting different phases of one’s adult life. Nonetheless, there seems to be a mismatch between what the book claims to do and what it actually does. Despite its explicit focus on a synchronic sample of Irish English, and thus its claim to describe language variation only, the discussion especially in the otherwise well-written Ch. 8 implies that there is semantic drift in taboo language, a claim that implies language change.


Review of Analysing variation in English

(posted January 8th, 2012)

Analysing variation in English. Ed. by Warren Maguire and April McMahon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp. xiii, 332. ISBN 978052189669. $99 (Hb).

Reviewed by Susanne Wagner, Chemnitz University of Technology

This book contains contributions from different research areas unified by the common aim of variation analysis and its practical application. The book is suitable for doctoral students, but it really targets researchers looking for new ideas beyond their area of expertise.

The introduction covers the central questions of the book: how to collect, analyze, store, and present data showing variation; and how to compare and validate different methods of analysis.

Erik R. Thomas’s comprehensive yet concise overview of sociophonetic methods includes such topics as traditional dialectology, modern surveys, transcription, and computer-supported acoustic analysis. He identifies discreteness and binarity as particularly problematic, stressing the importance of employing mixed models for the integrated analysis of variables. In the following chapter, Isabelle Buchstaller and Karen Corrigan look at different methods for investigating morphosyntactic variation, such as reformulation tasks, grammaticality judgement tasks, magnitude estimations, and pictorial elicitation. They identify magnitude estimation as a robust way of making intuitions succeed. An important caveat is that different settings may require very different methods.

Alexandra D’Arcy’s chapter on corpora seems geared more towards undergraduate students than researchers. It is also noteworthy that the choice of corpora is generally very eclectic; despite a general North American bias in the selection of corpora and references, the large Brigham Young University (BYU) corpora are not included. The only dynamic corpus mentioned is the Bank of English (COBUILD). In the following chapter, Hermann Moisl presents a rather advanced look at cluster analysis. The author emphasizes the advantages of the method but also discusses problems involved with using this (or any) method without knowing how it works.

Warren Maguire and April McMahon show how to quantify similarities and differences on all linguistic levels—from traditional isoglosses and feature bundles via honeycomb maps to Levenshtein distance on a phonetic level and trees of distance. Their emphasis is on interaction between types of measurement and other practical or theoretical concerns. They hope for an extension of these methods, employed mostly in lexis and phonetics, to other levels of analysis, particularly morphosyntax. In the chapter that follows, Chris Montgomery and Joan Beal use starburst charts to illustrate perceptual dialectology in England, a field so far neglected.

Part 2 establishes a link between linguistic variation and other fields. Patrick Honeybone looks at variation and linguistic theory, emphasizing the role of the individual in theory formation, and discusses such popular theories as rule-based phonology, optimality theoretical phonology and syntax, and principles and parameters syntax. Gregory R. Guy discusses traditional notions of variation and change, which were revolutionary at the time of their inception and are now commonplace in variationist studies (e.g. orderly heterogeneity, inherent variability, real and apparent time, S-curve, age-grading, incrementation and stabilization). He also stresses the link between research on variation and change and historical linguistics. Touching upon a yet underrepresented area, Frances Rock looks at the role of variation in forensic linguistics. She emphasizes factors important in both fields, such as the role of style and style shifting.

In her chapter on variation and identity, Emma Moore discusses ‘variationists’ current identity crisis’ (219) and stresses the importance of the historical context to understand the social meaning of linguistic variables, particularly emphasizing the need to combine methods. In the most exceptional chapter of the volume, Rob McMahon looks at variation and (genetic) populations. Parallels exist, for example, in terms of differentiation or dissecting variation into different subsystems. The book’s final chapter, by Graeme Trousdale, centers on the role of standard and non-standard varieties of English in national curricula, stressing the problematic status of ‘standard English’ and whether a variety other than the standard could be successfully used for instruction. He also calls for collaboration between (academic) linguists and teachers.