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ROMANCE LINGUISTICS IS ALIVE AND WELL Dieter Wanner The Ohio State University "Romance Linguistics is dead! - Long live Romance Linguistics!" This venerable discipline of an earlier date lives on in its newest incarnations , even though some of its current branches may not look much like their ancestor. I will look at the provocative question of this Cluster from my current North American vantage point, justifying this narrow focus with the fact that the classical age ofan all-encompassing Romance philology/linguistics is only a memory. This grand edifice, an impressive achievement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, mainly belongs to the past. For long decades in the twentieth century, a gradual movement away from this high point of philological , (neo)grammatical, and (neo)linguistic knowledge could still be overlooked. By the later part of the last century it became clear that the previous holistic approach and comprehensive perspective had ceased to be at the center of ongoing efforts. But at the same time different kinds of Romance linguistics continue to produce results of impressive vitality. The most forward-looking domain of Romance linguistic activity centers on a resolute attachment to the linguistic theory of the day. A prestigious series of conferences and proceedings volumes is united under the programmatic title of Linguistic Symposium on Romance Linguistics (LSRL) going into its 33rd edition in the year 2003 at Indiana University. The contributions to LSRL, characteristic of a dominant segment of the North American academic framework, provide some of the theoretically most advanced current analyses drawn from one or the other Romance language. Typically, these papers deal with synchronic concerns of the modern language, frequently limiting the data to the more spontaneous registers as is characteristic of much La corónica 31.2 (Spring, 2003): 103-13 104Dieter WannerLa coránica 31.2, 2003 linguistic practice. The occasional forays into historical linguistics emphasize the exemplary and theoretical dimensions of a given data set. Over the 30 years of LSRL as a premier North American (and also European) forum for Romance Linguistics, the individual contributions aim at staying in contact with current preoccupations in formal theoretical linguistics. An inverse dynamics, helping to define theoretical issues in the wake of significant Romance material, may be intellectually even more significant. The perspective of the Romance languages prominently informed the research programs, for example on clitic pronouns and the null-subject parameter. Both received their initial and major impulses from the study of the Romance languages, inspiring related inquiries in the last two or three decades extending to a vast array of genetically and typologically different languages. Such problems (also applying to phonology and morphology) impact the linguistic enterprise centrally, much more pertinently than even the most extensive reanalysis of Romance data in light of new theoretical orientations. Constituting a data set as a theoretical problem enriches the horizon of challenges to be met by an adequate linguistic theory, and it assures the applicability of such a theory to diverse linguistic types. The study of clitics and the null-subject syndrome clearly require an adequate elaboration, accommodating the Romance peculiarities in sufficient detail and then following their lead as compelling exemplars in need of strict interpretation. The ever increasing technical and theoretical sophistication of the various linguistic schools has guided the Romance analyses away from the typical pattern of a well-crafted research essay dating from the "classical" period of Romance linguistics. The preoccupation with the cultural embedding of specific texts, contemporary or historical, in a richly appointed historical, social, and literary environment is largely gone from most current work. The erstwhile, not infrequent, combination of linguistic sophistication with literary acumen of the old-style Romance philologists no longer prevails. A braver new world has pushed the field ahead into a vital interaction with the currently prevailing theoretical tendencies. What may have been a relatively homogeneous classical Romance linguistics now has evolved into a multiplicity of approaches according to the theoretical orientation informing the analysis. Yet even in this modern garb, the best work of Romance relevance will typically exhibit traits identifying it with its ancestral tradition : density of closely controlled data and richness of bibliographical foundations. Romance Linguistics Is Alive and Well105 One...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 103-113
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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