In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK NOTICES 205 ... Erlbaum, are you listening? [AnneGraffam Walker, The American University.] Objects and spaces. A study in the syntax and semantics of the German case system. By Dorothea Neumann . (Studien zur deutschen Grammatik, 32.) Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 1987. Pp. xüi, 246. DM 58.00. The meaningfulness of overtly-marked grammatical categories (such as Accusative and Dative ) has long been debated. In this study, Neumann says that they are indeed meaningful, but she does so by defining 'meaning' broadly enough to include encyclopedic knowledge and pragmatics. N rejects all previous case theory work, on the grounds that 'none of [the theories] has provided convincing results: either the case definitions fail to account for all the uses of a case, or they are so abstract that they cannot be imagined as a model of what is going on in the speaker/hearer's mind' (12). Instead, she compares the Accusative and the Dative in modern German in semantically simple environments. Her goal is to isolate variations in these patterns , thereby finding a way of precisely defining their contexts. To develop a workable theory , N restricts the semantic field of the case governors to verbs designating motion, in both the physical and abstract domains. Her examples are varied and well chosen. N's use of the notion of 'space' is basic to her approach; by space she means the sphere ofaction of a given noun. Cases, therefore, serve to indicate the relationship of the concrete object and also of its inherent space to the verb and to the other objects in the sentence. In its most basic form, the Accusative marks the Patient relationship. The Dative marks a less dependent relationship, indicating a variety of other semantic /pragmatic notions: a body part and the whole, for example, or an event and the person involved in some indirect way in the event. The Genitive case is not discussed. On the whole, N's analysis holds up very well. Her organization is excellent: she studies in turn the effect on case assignment of prepositions , adverbs, and prefixes (both separable and inseparable), and considers the various manifestations ofthe Dative, including a particularly good discussion of human beings as Experiences . Her examples are abundant and mostly translated in such a way as to make the book accessible to readers whose German is far from native. When, occasionally, this clarity breaks down, N would have done well to provide a colloquial version of the English as well as a word-for-word gloss. For virtually every example, in addition, her grammaticality judgments were upheld by the native speaker I consulted . The lack of an index is unfortunate. A problem for this study is the way the presentation is focused. N presents her differentiation of Dative and Accusative fairly early in the volume and repeats it in her conclusion; but through much of the detailed analysis, she emphasizes the nature of the various governors (verbs, prepositions) to the point where the reader can lose track of her thesis. Most of her discussion is very interesting, I should add, but the case meanings themselves could have been more clearly delineated throughout. In general the study is a good one: the data are carefully analyzed, with respect for the multiplicity of surface uses of each case. Yet N has developed a convincing theory of how these uses fit together in more abstract ways. It will be interesting to see the ideas presented here applied more widely to German and to other languages with overt case marking. [Margaret E. Winters, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.] Redecharakterisierende Adverbiale. By WolfgangNiehuser. (Göppinger Arbeiten zur Germanistik, 482.) Göppingen: Kümmerle, 1987. Pp. 209. DM 46.00. In this short monograph—his 1987 dissertation at the University of Münster—Niehuser sets out to present the first comprehensive semantic and pragmatic analysis of redecharakterisierende adverbiale (RAs), i.e. adverbials that speakers use to comment on and characterize either the form or the content of their own speech. (Typical examples in English would include phrases such as in short and to put it bluntly.) N succeeds in presenting a systematic semantic classification, but regrettably falls short of his goal. The pragmatic analysis, although...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
p. 205
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.