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  • Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2003: Selected Papers from ‘Going Romance’ 2003, Nijmegen, 20–22 November
  • Rodney Sampson
Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2003: Selected Papers from ‘Going Romance’ 2003, Nijmegen, 20–22 November. Edited by Twan Geerts, Ivo van Ginneken, and Haike Jacobs. (Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 270). Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. viii + 369pp. Hb €125.00; $188.00.

The present work is part of a regular series published by Benjamins presenting conference papers that apply recent advances in linguistic theory to topics of Romance [End Page 385] linguistics, both synchronic and diachronic. It contains eighteen papers that range over the gamut of Romance languages from Portuguese to Romanian. Curiously, however, instead of arranging the papers thematically, the editors have set them out, at times rather disjointedly, according to alphabetical order of author. Particular attention will be accorded here to contributions that address aspects relating to Gallo-Romance varieties or to their ancestor, Latin. Among the papers dealing with phonological topics, Walcir Cardoso (pp. 1–13) examines the treatment of phonological variation in Optimality Theory using data from Brazilian Portuguese and Picard, and it is proposed, not entirely originally, that the best way of handling variable phenomena is through the crucial nonranking of constraints. Tobias Scheer and Philippe Ségéral (pp. 235–67) explore the syllabic status of muta cum liquida sequences (for example, tr). On the basis of diachronic data from Gallo-Romance, they demonstrate that no single, predetermined interpretation, |tr, t|r or t r, is appropriate, but rather that these sequences may have a different syllabic status depending on the phonological structure of the language in which they occur. Turning to morpho-syntactic topics, we have David Embick and Morris Halle (pp. 37–62), who reconsider the status of the grammatical stem as ‘a privileged object’, arguing on the basis of verbal structure in Classical Latin that there is no need for such a unit in theoretical morphology. Karen Lahousse (pp. 161–76) explores noun-phrase subject inversion in French, and postulates a ‘focus VS’ type that subsumes strong focalization inversion (N’a téléphoné que ton ami) and elaborative inversion (Ont accepté notre proposition les députés . . . ). Juan Martín (pp. 177–96) draws on the feature-checking theory of case presented in Chomsky’s 1995 Minimalist Program to examine varying patterns of aspectual quantization and accusative case checking across a range of Romance languages, including French. In a closely argued paper Philippe Schlenker (pp. 269–309) considers the semantics of the French subjunctive and plausibly suggests that this mood does not appear in a natural class of contexts, but rather serves as a semantic default, complementing those contexts where other verbal forms (indicative etc.) occur. Finally, there are papers investigating aspects of acquisition. Among these, Tanja Kupisch (pp. 143–59) examines the acquisition of determiners in German amongst bilingual French-German and Italian-German children, and indicates that the simultaneous acquisition of a Romance language with similar determiner usage to German accelerates the acquisition process in German. This very diverse volume, which is completed by subject and author indexes, is nicely produced, although one paper on Romanian is confusing in that it suffers from the systematic omission of three crucial letter characters. The rich array of material presented here is likely to offer something of interest to all Romance linguists. [End Page 386]

Rodney Sampson
University of Bristol


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