Minimal ideas: Syntactic studies in the minimalist framework Ed. by Werner Abraham, Samuel David Epstein, Höskuldur Thráinsson, and C. Jan- Wouter Zwart (review)
- Linguistic Society of America
- Volume 75, Number 1, March 1999
- pp. 184-185
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- Additional Information
184 LANGUAGE, VOLUME 75, NUMBER 1 (1999) terms of AGR-features associated with functional heads, arguing against lexical parameterization ofindividual anaphors and pronouns. To capture syntactic variation between languages exhibiting overt WHmovement and languages with WH-in-situ, BB suggests in ch. 6 (129-62) that functional projections may establish syntactic barriers depending on their feature specifications; overt WH-movement is considered as a derivational strategy to avoid syntactic barriers . As with pro-drop and reflexivization phenomena, BB relates overt WH-movement to language specific feature bundles in functional head positions . The final chapter (163-67) summarizes BB's approach to syntactic variation: Universal Grammar provides a set of morphosyntactic features like tense, aspect, etc. Languages vary with respect to the morphosyntactic features they associate with a particular functional head position (C , I , D etc.), while prodrop effects, binding phenomena and WH-movement are surface phenomena. BB's proposal agrees with recent accounts of cross-linguistic variation in considering functional categories as the locus ofparameterization . In contrast to these accounts, she attributes syntactic variation neither to the number of functional projections nor to lexical properties of functional categories but to the feature specification of functional heads. [Ulrike Demske, University of Jena.] Linguistic anthropology. By Alessandro Durante (Cambridge textbooks in linguistics.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Pp. xxi, 398. Like the other volumes in this series, Duranti's introductory text is geared to upper-level undergraduate or early-stage graduate students. The author notes in his preface that in choosing which topics to cover and which to treat selectively or omit, he was influenced to some extent by the fact that other textbooks in the same series provide coverage of certain topics often considered part of the remit of linguistic anthropology, e.g. topics typically treated by sociolinguists and historical linguists, such as language change and areal linguistics, or topics treated by pragmatics specialists, such as conversational implicatures andpresuppositions. His own unifying theme he takes to be 'emphasis on communicative practices as constitutive of the culture of everyday life and a view of language as a powerful tool rather than a mirror of social realities established elsewhere' (xv). He identifies a 'focus on language as a set of symbolic resources that enter the constitution of social fabric and the individual representation of actual or possible worlds' as the preoccupation that distinguishes linguistic anthropologists from others who study language such as dialectologists and sociolinguists (3). This is to say thatthe linguistic anthropologist remains fully the ethnographer, concerned with language as a central but not detachable part of a rich complex of social and symbolic means. After useful chapters on 'The scope of linguistic anthropology' , "Theories of culture' , and 'Linguistic diversity', D offers extended treatments of 'Ethnographic methods' and 'Transcription: From writing to digitized images'. These last two chapters plus an appendix, 'Practical tips on recording interaction', represent a major strength of the book. There have been too few topically or technologically up-to-date sources to which students can turn for concrete advice on how to go about responsible and effective fieldwork. D's text puts these matters front and center and gives due consideration to both practical and ethical questions. Researchers planning for a first field trip will find his advice invaluable. Subsequent chapters on 'Meaning in linguistic forms', 'Speaking as social action', and 'Conversational exchanges' suggest how the focus of linguistic anthropology has shifted in the last few decades: John Searle and Emanuel Schegloff are referred to more often in D's book than is Edward Sapir. A penultimate section on 'Culture as a system of participation ', in the chapter on culture theory, creates a link with the penultimate chapter of the volume, 'Units of participation'. D explains his decision to focus most closely on the participants in speech events (as opposed to setting, genre, and so forth) as in part a means of reframing speech to highlight the fact that it is 'only one ofthe semiotic resources used by social actors' (329). His firm insistence on situating language within the larger cultural whole can serve as auseful corrective to some ofthe isolating tendencies seen in contemporary linguistics. [Nancy C. Dorian, Bryn Mawr College.] Minimal ideas: Syntactic studies in the...