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Reviewed by:
  • Advances in comparative Germanic syntax
  • Jeroen Van Craenenbroeck
Advances in comparative Germanic syntax. Ed. by Artemis Alexiadou, Jorge Hankamer, Thomas McFadden, Justin Nuger, and Florian Schäfer. (Linguistics today 141.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. Pp. xv, 395. ISBN 9789027255242. $158 (Hb).

The Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop (CGSW) is a conference with a venerable tradition within generative linguistics. Held more or less every year since 1984, it has yielded a series of often high-quality proceedings, to which the present book forms the most recent addition. It contains a selection of papers from the twenty-first and twenty-second CGSW, held at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2006 and the University of Stuttgart in 2007 respectively. The book contains an introduction by the editors and fourteen papers, grouped into four parts: ‘Cartography and the left periphery’ (five papers), ‘Word order and movement’ (four papers), ‘Thematic relations and NP realization’ (three papers), and ‘Finiteness and modality’ (two papers). As pointed out by the editors (vii), CGSW typically addresses both traditional themes of Germanic comparative syntax and topics pertaining to syntactic theory in general, and the twenty-first and twenty-second installments of the workshop were no exception in this respect. Accordingly, I use this bifurcation as the structuring principle for this review, starting with the general, non- Germanic-specific themes. In so doing, I adhere only partially to the structure proposed by the editors, but I return to it at the end of the review.

The first central theme of the volume concerns cartography. This research program is based on the idea that sentence structure should be represented as a template of fixed positions, each with its own syntactico-semantic specification. This template is taken to be a universal, totally ordered set of functional projections, with crosslinguistic variation being reduced to whether or not the heads and specifiers of these projections are overtly filled (be it via internal or external merge). While no one can deny that the cartographic endeavor has yielded a substantial amount of both empirically and theoretically highly relevant work (see, for example, the Oxford University Press series ‘The cartography of syntactic structures’: Cinque 2002, 2006, Belletti 2004, Rizzi 2004, Benincà & Munaro 2010, Cinque & Rizzi 2010), in recent years a growing number of problems has been raised for this approach (see the papers and references in van Craenenbroeck 2009 for discussion). The present CGSW volume presents a very interesting contribution to this debate, with three of its papers adopting the cartographic viewpoint and three others challenging it.

The cartographic centerpiece of this volume is Anna Cardinaletti’s paper ‘On a (wh-)moved Topic in Italian, compared to Germanic’ (3–40). She provides an analysis of resumptive preposing (RP) in Italian; she shows that Italian RP differs from clitic left dislocation (CLLD) and focalization, and shares certain properties with English topicalization. In Cardinaletti’s account, an RPed constituent moves to a high TopP, with an intermediate landing site in specFinP. The fact that RP and wh-movement do not cooccur is taken to indicate that the latter also has an intermediate landing site in specFinP, while the fact that RP is a root phenomenon follows from it targeting a very high TopP (the idea being that this projection is absent in embedded contexts). As such, this paper is a very prototypical example of a cartographic piece of work: based on distributional patterns, word-order generalizations, and cooccurrence restrictions, it maps out a particular portion of the functional sequence.

The other two cartographic papers are of a different nature. Rather than providing evidence for a particular functional sequence, the authors use results from previous cartographic work as a central ingredient in their analysis. In ‘C-agreement or something close to it: Some thoughts on the “alls-construction” ’ (41–58), Michael T. Putnam and Marjo van Koppen focus on a previously undiscussed construction attested in Midwestern American English. In this regional variation, [End Page 940] an s-ending appears on the universal quantifier all in pseudoclefts. Putnam and van Koppen tentatively analyze this suffix as an instance of complementizer agreement. They claim that the (non)occurrence of the agreement ending is crucially...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 940-943
Launched on MUSE
2010-12-30
Open Access
No
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