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Building and Interpreting Possession Sentences

Neil Myler

A major question for linguistic theory concerns how the structure of sentences relates to their meaning. There is broad agreement in the field that there is some regularity in the way that lexical semantics and syntax are related, so that thematic roles (the different participant roles in an event: agent, theme, goal, etc.) are predictably associated with particular syntactic positions. In this book, Neil Myler examines the syntax and semantics of possession sentences, which are infamous for appearing to diverge dramatically from this broadly regular pattern. On the one hand, Myler points out, possession sentences have too many meanings; in any given language, the construction used to express archetypal possessive meanings (such as personal ownership) is also often used to express other apparently unrelated notions (body parts, kinship relations, and many others). On the other hand, possession sentences have too many surface structures; languages differ markedly in the argument structures used to convey the same possessive meanings. Myler argues that recent work on the syntax-semantics interface in the generative tradition has developed the tools needed to solve these puzzles. Examining and synthesizing ideas from the literature and drawing on data from many languages (including some understudied Quechua dialects), Myler presents a novel way to understand the apparent irregularity of possession sentences while preserving explanations of general cross-linguistic regularities, offering a unified approach to the syntax and semantics of possession sentences that can also be integrated into a general theory of argument structure.

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California Indian Languages

Victor Golla

Nowhere was the linguistic diversity of the New World more extreme than in California, where an extraordinary variety of village-dwelling peoples spoke seventy-eight mutually unintelligible languages. This comprehensive illustrated handbook, a major synthesis of more than 150 years of documentation and study, reviews what we now know about California’s indigenous languages. Victor Golla outlines the basic structural features of more than two dozen language types, and cites all the major sources, both published and unpublished, for the documentation of these languages—from the earliest vocabularies collected by explorers and missionaries, to the data amassed during the twentieth-century by Alfred Kroeber and his colleagues, and to the extraordinary work of John P. Harrington and C. Hart Merriam. Golla also devotes chapters to the role of language in reconstructing prehistory, and to the intertwining of the language and culture in pre-contact California societies, making this work, the first of its kind, an essential reference on California’s remarkable Indian languages.

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Calunga and the Legacy of an African Language in Brazil

Steven Byrd

Although millions of slaves were forcibly transported from Africa to Brazil, the languages the slaves brought with them remain little known. Most studies have focused on African contributions to Brazilian Portuguese rather than on the African languages themselves. This book is unusual in focusing on an African-descended language. The author describes and analyzes the Afro- Brazilian speech community of Calunga, in Minas Gerais. Linguistically descended from West African Bantu, Calunga is an endangered Afro-Brazilian language spoken by a few hundred older Afro-Brazilian men, who use it only for specific, secret communications. Unlike most creole languages, which are based largely on the vocabulary of the colonial language, Calunga has a large proportion of African vocabulary items embedded in an essentially Portuguese grammar. A hyrid language, its formation can be seen as a form of cultural resistance.

Steven Byrd’s study provides a comprehensive linguistic description of Calunga based on two years of interviews with speakers of the language. He examines its history and historical context as well as its linguistic context, its sociolinguistic profile, and its lexical and grammatical outlines.

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Camfranglais: The Making of a New Language in Cameroonian Literature

This study raises awareness to the emergence of a new genre in world literatureóhybridized literature. It rejects the assumption according to which literatures written in less commonly taught languages should be subsumed into one universally accessible global idiom. Instead, Vakunta challenges literary scholars and readers of literature to regard untranslatability as the key to cross-cultural engagement. The bookís multiple approaches and innumerable sources generate complex interdisciplinary connections and provide an excellent introduction to a complex literary phenomenon alien to literati resident outside the officially bilingual multicultural and multilingual Republic of Cameroon.

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China's English

A History of English in Chinese Education

Bob Adamson

This book traces the history of English education in the People's Republic of China from 1949 to the present day. It uses the junior secondary school curriculum as the means to examine how English curriculum developers and textbook writers have confronted the shifting ambiguities and dilemmas over five distinct historical periods.

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The Christian Hebraism of John Donne

Written with the Fingers of Man's Hand

By Chanita Goodblatt

The complex relationship between the nation, Church of England, and the Jews reached an important culmination during the Reformation as Christian scholars became more and more interested in Hebrew language and the Jewish roots of European civilization. Christian Hebraism’s influence spread as a central focus in theology and politics, spurring the Geneva (1560) and the King James (1611) Bibles in particular. Within this context, Chanita Goodblatt reorients John Donne, one of the most prominent preachers and writers of the time, as a Christian Hebraist and examines the exegetical strategies and language in Donne’s psalms and sermons.

While Donne shows only a basic grasp of the Hebrew language, his sermons reveal the many semantic nuances taken from Latin and vernacular translations of Jewish biblical scholarship. Goodblatt lays out the intellectual context of Donne’s work and ties specific lexical, rhetorical, and thematic strategies to Hebrew traditions. Donne’s work weaves a web of intertextual complexities that highlight the interaction of Christian and Jewish scholarship that influenced the theological and political views of the time period. In addition, Donne’s reinterpretation of the Bible based on Jewish exegesis ultimately adds to an understanding of Christian Hebraism and establishes the Church of England as the inheritor of the Jewish tradition.

This study focuses on Donne’s sermons preached on the Psalms. Organized both generically and thematically, corresponding reproductions of the Hebrew Rabbinic (1525) and the Geneva Bible preface each chapter and allow the reader, regardless of specialization, to follow Goodblatt’s critical analyses.

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Classical NEG Raising

An Essay on the Syntax of Negation

Chris Collins

In this book, Chris Collins and Paul Postal consider examples such the one below on the interpretation where Nancy thinks that this course is not interesting: <I>Nancy doesn't think this course is interesting</I>.They argue such examples instantiate a kind of syntactic raising that they term Classical NEG Raising. This involves the raising of a NEG (negation) from the embedded clause to the matrix clause. Collins and Postal develop three main arguments to support their claim. First, they show that Classical NEG Raising obeys island constraints. Second, they document that a syntactic raising analysis predicts both the grammaticality and particular properties of what they term Horn clauses (named for Laurence Horn, who discovered them). Finally, they argue that the properties of certain <I>parenthetical</I> structures strongly support the syntactic character of Classical NEG Raising. Collins and Postal also offer a detailed analysis of the main argument in the literature against a syntactic raising analysis (which they call the Composed Quantifier Argument). They show that the facts appealed to in this argument not only fail to conflict with their approach but actually support a syntactic view. In the course of their argument, Collins and Postal touch on a variety of related topics, including the syntax of negative polarity items, the status of sequential negation, and the scope of negative quantifiers.

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Composing Research

A Contextualist Paradigm for Rhetoric and Composition

Cindy Johanek

Cindy Johanek offers a new perspective on the ideological conflict between qualitative and quantitative research approaches, and the theories of knowledge that inform them. With a paradigm that is sensitive to the context of one's research questions, she argues, scholars can develop less dichotomous forms that invoke the strengths of both research traditions. Context-oriented approaches can lift the narrative from beneath the numbers in an experimental study, for example, or bring the useful clarity of numbers to an ethnographic study.

A pragmatic scholar, Johanek moves easily across the boundaries that divide the field, and argues for contextualist theory as a lens through which to view composition research. This approach brings with it a new focus, she writes. "This new focus will call us to attend to the contexts in which rhetorical issues and research issues converge, producing varied forms, many voices, and new knowledge, indeed reconstructing a discipline that will be simultaneously focused on its tasks, its knowledge-makers, and its students."

Composing Research is a work full of personal voice and professional commitment and will be a welcome addition to the research methods classroom and to the composition researcher's own bookshelf.

2000 Outstanding Scholarship Award from the International Writing Centers Association.

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Concepts, Syntax, and their Interface

The Theta System

Tanya Reinhart

One of Tanya Reinhart's major contributions to linguistic theory is the development of the Theta System (TS), a theory of the interface between the system of concepts and the linguistic computational system. Reinhart introduced her theory in a seminal paper, "The Theta System: Syntactic Realization of Verbal Concepts" (2000) and subsequently published other papers with further theoretical development. Although Reinhart continued to work on the Theta System, she had not completed a planned Linguistic Inquiry volume on the topic before her untimely death in 2007. This book, then, is the first to offer a systematic exposition of Reinhart's Theta System. The core of the book is Reinhart's 2000 paper, accompanied by substantial endnotes with clarifications, summaries, and links to subsequent modifications of the theory, some in Reinhart's unpublished work. An appendix by Marijana Marelj discusses the domain of Case, based on an LSA course she taught with Reinhart in 2005. Two additional essays by Reinhart's linguistic colleagues discuss the division of labor between the lexicon and syntax and the apparent conflict between the Theta System and Distributed Morphology.

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The Connectives

Lloyd Humberstone

A comprehensive investigation of the sentence connectives--and, or, if, not--with special attention to their logical properties.

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