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  • Romance syntax, semantics and L2 acquisition ed. by Joaquim Camps, and Caroline Wiltshire
  • Javier Gutiérrez-Rexach
Romance syntax, semantics and L2 acquisition. Ed. by Joaquim Camps and Caroline Wiltshire. (Current issues in linguistic theory 216.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2001. Pp. x, 246. ISBN 9027237239. $73 (Hb).

The Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL) has reached the thirty-year milestone, and in the process it has unquestionably become the leading forum of debate in theoretical Romance linguistics, with timely published volumes of selected papers. In recent years, additional parasessions have each generated their own separate volumes. Examples include a workshop on mathematical linguistics (LSRL 28: Formal perspectives on Romance linguistics, ed. by Jean Marc Authier, Barbara E. Bullock, and Lisa A. Reed, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1999) and a parassesion on diachronic approaches to Romance linguistics (LSRL 29: Current issues in Romance languages, ed. by Christina Tortora and Diana Cresti, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2002). At LSRL 30, the main topic of the parasession was second language acquisition, but for unknown reasons only five papers have been included here, intermingled with contributions on syntax and semantics from the main session. Adding more confusion, the introduction does not reflect the order of the table of contents and is organized in a somewhat arbitrary fashion (at the beginning, sections on parametric variation and theoretical viewpoints on word order are promised, but the relevant headings include only the second language acquisition papers; adverbials are treated on a par with the syntax/semantics interface, etc.). [End Page 834]

The overall quality of the contributions is also somewhat weaker than that of previous symposia. Among the highlights, Maria Luisa Rivero’s paper discusses impersonal reflexives in Romance and Slavic. The se/si reflexive clitic displays identical properties in both language families except for a striking semantic difference that highlights the relevance of semantic parametric variation. Anne Abeillé and Danièle Godard examine the syntactic properties of a subclass of scalar and manner clitic expressions in French and propose an analysis based on a ‘lite’ vs. ‘nonlite’ distinction, against some recent tripartite classifications of pronouns. Telmo Móia argues that quantification over events in European Portuguese acts as a constraint on the distribution of some nonpunctual temporal adverbials. Cristina Schmitt examines several aspectual constraints on the verb ficar ‘remain/stay’ in Brazilian Portuguese and shows that ‘ficar + adjective’ constructions denote a punctual transition. Elisabeth Villalta provides a semantic characterization of the licensing contexts for subjunctive verb forms in Spanish and argues that subjunctive mood appears in contexts that require comparison of alternative propositions.

Cedric Boeckx examines French complex verb inversion and concludes that the most salient characteristic of this construction (subject clitic doubling) is a case of interrogative inflection. Cedric Boeckx, Penka Stateva, and Arthur Stephanov investigate French questions involving wh-movement and wh-in situ and conclude that they do not entail optionality of movement. No unified account is possible either because of a semantic difference involving presupposition. Acrisio Pires analyzes obligatory control as determiner phrase movement in three Portuguese dialects, concluding that obligatory-control PRO should be eliminated as an independent element in the grammar. Sarah Cummins examines unaccusative mismatches in the French impersonal construction and shows that no explanation for these mismatches that maintains the unaccusative hypothesis is tenable.

Papers by Randall Gess and Julia Herschensohn, Bruce Anderson, Clancy Clements, and Nuria Sagarra explore several issues in second language acquisition in French, Spanish, and English. A slim index of terms and concepts closes the volume, hinting again at a less than optimal job by the editors.

Javier Gutiérrez-Rexach
Ohio State University


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