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  • The paradigmatic structure of person marking by Michael Cysouw
  • Kleanthes K. Grohmann
The paradigmatic structure of person marking. By Michael Cysouw. (Oxford studies in typology and linguistic theory.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Pp. xiv, 375. ISBN 0199254125. $85 (Hb).

This fascinating book offers a detailed crosslinguistic, and as such a ‘meaningful’ typological, study of the morphology of person-marking in human language. The book consists of four parts (each having two chapters) plus introductory and concluding chapters. ‘Introduction: Objective, definitions, method, and some history’ (1–35) introduces the reader to the issue of person and to the typological approach espoused, including Cysouw’s definition and delimitation of ‘paradigms’ as well as his qualification of what a ‘meaningful typology’ should consist of: a crosslinguistic investigation of a tertium comparationis which tests the hypotheses put forth (an approach that works very well for C).

Part 1, ‘Person marking’, together with Part 2, ‘Paradigmatic structure’, form the core of the investigation. ‘One among the crowd: The marking of singular participants’ (39–65) is a crosslinguistic analysis of the three singular person markings: ‘speaker’ (1st person), ‘addressee’ (2nd), and ‘other’ (3rd). ‘Group marking: Redefining plurality in the pronominal domain’ (66–98) extends the analysis to plural person marking where C discards the concept of ‘plural’ in favor of the notion ‘group’. ‘The diversity of the core: A survey of patterns of singular and group marking’ (101–65) offers a complete typology of the attested paradigmatic structures (distinguishing between ‘common’ and ‘rare’). Continuing the investigation of the structure of singular and group combinations, ‘Compound pronouns: Other person categories disqualified’ (166–84) supports the claim that these form a special class of pronouns but rejects the introduction of a new person category.

‘Cardinality: Redefining number in the pronominal domain’ (187–203) begins Part 3, ‘Number incorporated’, the part of the study that adds an analysis of number marking to the core. This chapter redefines ‘number’ to accommodate the replacement of ‘plural’ by ‘group’, further extended in ‘The diversity of restricted groups: A survey of dual person marking’ (204–41). Part 4, ‘Cognate paradigms’, consists of ‘Connecting paradigms: Person paradigms through time and space’ (245–68) and ‘Cognate paradigms revisited: Connecting the dual’ (269–94), two chapters that reformulate the various typological hierarchies for diachronic change proposed throughout the book. The result is a network of interconnected paradigms mapping the similarity of paradigmatic structure.

The final chapter, ‘Finale: Summary and prospects’ (295–321), presents a welcome summary of the results of the detailed investigations from the previous chapters and sketches a host of interesting prospects for future research (such as independent vs. inflectional marking, asymmetry in affixation, and gender in person paradigms). It is followed by ‘references’ (322–50), a ‘List of languages according to genetic/geographical distribution’ (351–59), and indices of names (361–66), languages (367–72, including dialects, pidgins, and creoles), and subjects (373–75). Great book! [End Page 775]

Kleanthes K. Grohmann
University of Cyprus


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