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  • Language contact, variation, and change ed. by Jussi Niemi, Terence Odlin, and Janne Heikkinen
  • Andrew Moody
Language contact, variation, and change. Ed. by Jussi Niemi, Terence Odlin, and Janne Heikkinen. Joensuu, Finland: Joensuun yliopiston monistuskeskus, 1998. Pp. 286. ISBN 9517087454. €17.

The sixteen essays in this volume originate from two meetings held at the University of Joensuu in May 1997: The 24th Finnish Conference of Linguistics and The Second Scandinavian Summer School on Language Diversity. Unfortunately, the articles are not grouped into larger categories or topics.

In an article on language purism in Nordic communities, Endre Brunstad (1–14) introduces some of the measures taken by language planners to purify Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese from relatively recent English influences. Wolfgang U. Dressler (15–32) argues that ‘productivity should be viewed as the constitutive and primitive property of patterns or rules or processes of grammar, thus at the core of morphology’ (18). Zsuzsa Duray (33–47) describes the sociolinguistic conditions related to the death of Nganasan, a Uralic language that is being replaced by Russian. Evidence of prehistoric contact between Germanic and Balto-Finnic languages is introduced and discussed by Sirkka-Liisa Hahmo and Tette Hofstra (48–69).

Returning to the theme of language shift, Panu Hallamaa (70–97) writes of personal experiences encountered while studying language vitality among the native languages of Alaska and issues of measuring language proficiency, identifying sociolinguistic causes of shift, and engaging in social advocacy. Helena Halmari (98–110) discusses the elements of case marking with English adverbials (as loanwords or via codeswitching) in Finnish. In a discussion of archaeological and historical evidence as well as linguistic data, Anu-Reet Hausenberg (111–24) argues that the split of Permic tribes from Finno-Komi contacts could have occurred much earlier than previously believed. Jan Heegaard (125–35) proposes language contact as an adequate explanation of discrepancies found in the appearance of vowel length in the Kalashamon language. In an analysis of Finnish-Americans’ shift to English, Pekka Hirvonen (136–50) observes that Finnish-Americans follow the established and predictable pattern of shifting within the second generation.

Using a framework for language attrition developed by Roger D. Anderson (‘Determining the linguistic attributes of language attrition’, The loss of language skills, ed. by Richard D. Lambert and Barbara F. Freed, 83–118, Rowley, MA: Newbury House, 1982), Ossi Kokko (151–72) develops an explanation for the attrition of Ingrian Finnish, and especially case marking, among a small population in Russia and Estonia. In an analysis of the similarity of l-suffixes in Samoyed and neighboring non-Uralic languages of Siberia, Ago Künnap (173–83) argues that this morphological feature entered through language contact. Minna-Liisa Mathalt (184–94) analyzes the strategies used in eight interpretation situations to demonstrate that the strategies used are situation-dependent. Examining the recent controversy over Ebonics, Terence Odlin (195–233) investigates some of the ways in which a dialect may become a language.

Using the notions of ‘deep Background’ and ‘local Background’ developed by John Searle (Intentionality: [End Page 842] An essay in the philosophy of mind, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), Esa Penttilä, Marja Nenonen, and Jussi Niemi (234–45) argue that idioms that are more closely connected with universal human experience are grasped crosslinguistically more quickly than those that are connected with culture-specific experience. Helka Riionheimo (246–68) tests a model of morphological attrition by examining language shift from Ingrian Finnish to Estonian. Finally, Ikka Savijärvi (269–86) discusses some of the aspects of language contact in Ingria among four Baltic-Finnic languages which, though distinct, are closely related to one another.

Andrew Moody
University of Macau


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