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  • Grammatical analysis: Morphology, syntax, and semantics: Studies in honor of Stanley Starosta
  • Barry Blake
Videa P. De Guzman and Byron W. Bender, eds. 2000. Grammatical analysis: Morphology, syntax, and semantics: Studies in honor of Stanley Starosta. Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication No. 29. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. xv + 298 pp. ISBN 0-8248 2105-X. Paper. US$39.00.

Stan Starosta taught at the University of Hawai'i from 1967 until his untimely death in July of this year. Over that period he developed his own theory of syntax, Lexi- case. The Lexi- part of the name reflects the fact that it deals in words, not parts of words, and was founded on the principle that syntax grows out of the valence requirements of words. The -case part of the name reflects the principle that all nominals bear one of a restricted set of case relations: Patient (absolutive), Agent (ergative), Correspondent (other complements), Means (instrumental), and Locus (all local relations). The theory is dependency based, with both subject and object being dependent sisters of the verb. It is monostratal and does not admit movement rules. Syntactic relatedness (e.g., active/passive) is captured through derivation, a passive verb being derived from the active and having its own valence.

Starosta published a great deal on a great number of languages, and his influence can also be seen in the work of his graduate students, most of whom came from southeast and eastern Asia and wrote dissertations on their native languages. From Starosta they received rigorous, formal training in a highly constrained theory. As Starosta was fond of pointing out, the more powerful the theory the less explanatory value it has. He once said that he was like Batman fighting crime (read, grammatical problems) with limited means, whereas Chomsky was like Superman, solving grammatical problems with almost limitless power. Today Starosta's graduates are scattered around the Pacific Rim. The present volume contains 17 papers, some from colleagues, but most of them from these graduates.

In "The architecture of syntactic representations: Binarity and deconstruction" William O'Grady compares his version of categorial grammar with Lexicase. Although he is supportive of much of Starosta's theory, he claims that categorial grammar (and most constituent grammars) have an advantage over dependency theories such as Lexicase in that a hierarchical, configurational structure of the clause enables one to account for the fact that in a clause such as John never helps anyone, the adverb never can license anyone in the object position, but not in the subject position, because it commands the object but not the subject. In Lexicase the subject, the object, and adverbs are sisters of the verb.

One of Starosta's themes was that morpheme boundaries play no part in syntax, and in this spirit Byron Bender contributes "Paradigms as rules." He defends the Word and Paradigm model and morphological solutions as opposed to phonological ones, noting that morphological solutions are more in accord with speakers' intuitions and are reflected in language change.

In "Deixis and anaphora and prelinguistic universals" Marybeth Clark points out that the distinction between here-and-now/proximal concepts and there-and-then/ [End Page 529] distal concepts is marked paradigmatically in many languages, by tone in Hmong and Vietnamese, by vowel distinctions in Thai, and by consonant distinctions in English: 'here/there/where', 'hither/thither/whither', and so forth. This reflects a universal need to pair and contrast these deictic notions. She claims this universal tendency derives from a prelinguistic universal reflected in human and animal behavior. She claims that distal reference requires "strategic intelligence," and consequently distal reference is the more marked member of the paradigm.

Stan Starosta supervised a number of dissertations on Thai, and five of the contributions are on this language. Pranee Kullivanijaya discusses the uses of rau 'we' in "Power and intimacy: A contradiction in a Thai personal pronoun." Rau, essentially a first person plural pronoun, can be used in the singular and it can be used for second person. She points out that it can express either power or intimacy, and shows how these contradictory features may have developed in contemporary Bangkok Thai by giving data from the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9421
Print ISSN
0029-8115
Pages
pp. 529-533
Launched on MUSE
2002-01-02
Open Access
No
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