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BOOK NOTICES 177 and literary approaches to textual analysis through applying pragmatic analytic techniques to several of Shakespeare's plays. Overall, the book is a convincing demonstration of how the linguistic analysis of literary texts serves to enrich our understanding not only of literature but also of linguistic analysis itself. In the three chapters following the introduction (Chs. 2-4), R analyzes the play Othello through investigating adjacency pairs, conversational dominance , and 'agentivity', i.e. characters' use of agent NPs in subject position. The linguistic analyses provide empirical support for the subjective impression of many literary theorists that the play's central character , Othello, is actually less powerful than some seemingly subordinate characters, particularly his nemesis, lago. lago exerts subtle control over Othello through controlling conversational topics; and he shows his greater self-agency through showing more agentivity. R also analyzes pragmatic analysis as he examines Shakespeare. He points out that pragmatic approaches based on natural conversation may be somewhat limited when applied to dramatic dialogue . Further, these limitations may extend even to the analysis of conversational data. For example, speakers may violate the maxims of quantity and/or quality for dramatic effect, both onstage and off, as, for example, when telling an engaging anecdote or attempting to build a convincing argument. In addition , R cautions both literary and linguistic analysts to beware of blindly accepting the assumption that certain linguistic forms are necessarily imbued with certain discourse functions. Questions are not necessarily indicative of domination (a view held by Shakespearean scholars) or of subordination (the view held by far too many linguists) but may carry any number of different meanings, depending on the linguistic and sociolinguistic contexts in which they are embedded. In Ch. 5, R examines speech acts in the play Coriolanus , and in Ch. 6 he applies politeness theory to Timon ofAthens. In each case, he again shows how linguistic and literary approaches enrich one another. For example, R demonstrates that the numerous refusals to accept praise found in Coriolanus are not necessarily indicative of aloofness, as assumed by literary critics, but often represent the minimization of self-praise, a normal conversational strategy that has been duly noted in the speech act literature. In addition, he shows that politeness theory, as outlined, for example, in Brown and Levinson (Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987) may be incomplete . Thus, R adds to their exhaustive list of strategies for minimizing face-threatening acts the strategy of 'nastiness', the act of purposely offending one's fellow conversationalist. This speech act figures prominently in Timon and, R argues, in many reallife conversational exchanges as well. Overall, R is successful in bringing together literary and linguistic approaches to textual analysis. I amparticularly impressed with his clear, concise presentations of speech act theory and politeness theory (Chs. 5 and 6, respectively). However, at times the gulf between the two areas of study is evident. For example, R is in danger of losing his linguistic readership at the ends of Chs. 3 and 5, where he launches into lengthy discussions of characters' motives and personalities which are not grounded in linguistic analysis. Conversely, R risks losing his audience of literary scholars during some of his linguistic discussions , particularly the extended discussion of case theory at the beginning ofCh. 4. In addition, the fact that he assumes familiarity with Shakespeare's plays ratherthan providing synopses could serve to alienate both linguists and literary scholars who do not specialize in Shakespeare. Despite these limitations, the book should prove valuable to scholars of Shakespeare and to linguists with literary critical interests. In particular, it would be an extremely useful teaching tool for linguists whose students come mostly from the field ofEnglish literature rather than linguistics . [Natalie Schilling-Estes, Stanford University .] Generative perspectives on language acquisition. Ed. by Harald Clahsen. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins , 1996. Pp. xxviii, 499. Cloth $115.00, paper $29.95. Originating in a 1994 University of Essex workshop , this text consists of an editor's introduction, twelve papers on language acquisition by (mostly European-based) generative linguists, and one critical overview. An outstanding virtue of the volume is its coherence. The contributors focus on a limited range of topics...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 177-178
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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