Opening dialogue: Understanding the dynamics of language and learning in the English classroom By Martin Nystrand with Adam Gamoran, Robert Kachur, and Catherine Prendergast (review)
- Linguistic Society of America
- Volume 74, Number 2, June 1998
- pp. 444-445
- Additional Information
444 LANGUAGE, VOLUME 74, NUMBER 2 (1998) usage of verbal categories in Ancient Greek. While the presentation and terminology remain largely those of traditional Classical grammar, the revised version incorporates some insights from discourse studies of tense and aspect such as the role of ímperfect/aorist alternation in discourse cohesion (13). Some informal use is also made of functional grammar, notably in discussing the relation of thematic roles to voice. The text assumes some reading knowledge of the language; the ample examples from Classical authors are presented in Greek alphabet without glosses, and little help is given with morphological or morphophonemic points. The scope includes mood and tense (9-46), the usage of verbs in relative, concessive, and conditional clauses (47-92), nonfinite forms (participles and infinitives, 93-130), and voice (131-60), the middle voice being of particular typological interest here. Several observations are made on variation between Greek dialects although few comparisons are made going beyond Ancient Greek. There are also discussions of stylistic factors with respect to usages such as the historic present (22-25) and the gnomic aorist (30-32). In a concession to tradition which will frustrate aspectologists, aspect is not systematically distinguished from tense, rendering some descriptions more idiosyncratic and language-specific than would seem necessary. Nonetheless the book offers an example of how the empirical thoroughness of traditional Classical scholarship can be brought into contact with general linguistic theory. [Stephen Matthews, University of Hong Kong.] Conditions and conditionals: An investigation of Ancient Greek. By Gerry Wakker. (Amsterdam studies in Classical philology, 3.) Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1994. Pp. xii, 450. This thesis, written under the supervision of Albert Rijksbaron in Amsterdam within the broad framework of Simon Dik's functional grammar, is limited in scope to clauses introduced by ei 'if in Ancient Greek. What the study lacks in breadth it makes up in depth: all ei- clauses in the extant works ofHomer, Plato, and the Classical dramatists have been considered (and this without the aid of a computerized corpus ). Moreover, the interaction of three moods (indicative, subjunctive, and optative) with tense-aspect categories and modal particles makes for a intrinsically complex topic. Following a brief introduction (1-20), 'Conditionals in general' (21-42) critically reviews linguistic and philosophical accounts of the topic. 'Theoretical preliminaries' (43-120) develops a functional grammar framework in which to discuss the structure and function of conditionals. Using this model, eiclauses are then divided into predicational conditionals (121-226) and propositional and illocutionary conditionals (227-73), i.e. those whose semantics do not involve implication. Further chapters deal with 'Some peculiar usages of conditionals' (275-302) and 'The function of modal particles in e/-clauses' (303-64). Ch. 8, on nonconditional usages of ei (365-402) argues that both conditional and other types of ei- clauses (such as purpose clauses and indirect questions) express disjunctive situations and that wishes with ei + optative mood derive from conditionals rather than vice versa. An overview (403-12) summarizes the results. Particularly original to this study is the attention given to the role of particles which accompany ei (normally as enclitics as in eíde, eiper). Often overlooked or assumed to be interchangeable, they are here seen to have two main semantic functions: scopal (e.g. ei . . . ge with the intervening elements being within the scope of the conditional) and modal (typically epistemic, expressing the speaker's attitude to the likelihood of conditions and consequences being fulfilled). Methodologically, the detailed typology of Greek conditionals offers a useful model for the investigation of other languages. One typologically relevant observation is that while predicative conditionals show a preference for initial position, as noted by Greenberg, illocutionary conditionals prefer noninitial position (89, 404). The book thus contributes not only to the study of Ancient Greek morphosyntax but to the understanding of conditional constructions in general. [Stephen Matthews, University ofHong Kong.] Opening dialogue: Understanding the dynamics of language and learning in the English classroom. By Martin Nystrand with Adam Gamoran, Robert Kachur, and Catherine Prendergast. (Language and literacy series.) London & New York: Teachers College Press, 1997. Pp. 139. Drawing on the work of Mikhail Bakhtin, the authors use the perspective of dialogism to develop their argument for...