- Copular clauses in English and Polish: Structure, derivation, and interpretation by Anna Bondaruk
Research into the nature and structure of copular constructions has provided a lot of interesting insight into the architecture of the grammar and the interaction between syntax, morphology, and semantics. For example, work by Andrea Moro (2000) on symmetry within the verb phrase or Marcel den Dikken’s (2006) proposals on phase extension have spurred new approaches to how basic syntactic computations are carried out. The book under review here, Copular clauses in English and Polish: Structure, derivation, and interpretation by Anna Bondaruk, is an interesting contribution to this already vibrant field of research. Her work has two aims: to provide a clear and state-of-the-art overview of existing proposals on a whole variety of copular constructions and to offer an analysis of three major classes of such constructions in Polish. In order to achieve these aims, she divides the book into two parts. Part 1 discusses copular clauses in English, whereas Part 2 critically analyzes existing proposals on copular constructions in Polish and puts forward a novel analysis for these structures. This simple linear division of labor has the advantage of providing the reader with an overview of research that is fuller than what the author needs for her analysis of Polish. The downside to this approach is that it also gives the impression that work on these two languages remains to some degree disjointed. Fortunately, the author makes an effort to integrate some of the work on non-Slavic copulas into the discussion of her proposals. The discussion concentrates on research carried out in the past twenty years within the generative framework of the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995). The author’s own proposals are also couched in this approach. The aim appears to be to accommodate Slavic data to the broad principles of MP. [End Page 293]
The book is 371 pages long, and includes an index and references. The first three chapters, roughly one third of the book, are devoted to English. The discussion provides an exhaustive taxonomy of copular constructions. The impression is that the goal of this section is to give the reader a sense of the richness of “flavors” that copular constructions come in when analyzed semantically and syntactically. In chapter 1, we are introduced to the taxonomy of copular constructions in English based on Higgins 1979 and to proposals in Mikkelsen 2004, 2005, which will resonate throughout the book. Chapter 2 gives an overview of the predicational and specificational clauses in English, and chapter 3 introduces us to equatives in English. Each chapter follows a template where the properties of the constructions are introduced, followed by a critical overview of existing recent approaches. In that sense, the discussion is not so much driven by any given proposal or theory, other than broad Minimalism, but rather by taxonomy. Such an approach makes the first section a useful reference tool for any linguist interested in these constructions, but readers should not expect to find advocacy for any specific framework. Instead, they will find a critical overview and comparison of some of the existing proposals. Work by Mikkelsen (2005, 2011) and Roy (2006) plays an important role in the discussion. Proposals made by Roy are crucial for the author in that they introduce a subdivision of predicational clauses into characterizing and defining, a subdivision later used in the analysis of Polish.
The second part of the book concentrates on Polish copular clauses. Chapter 4 starts off with a typology of Polish copular constructions. The division is partly driven by the observation that Polish has two copulas, the verb być and the pronominal to, and both can occur in the same clause. Chapter 5 discusses the possible types of copular clauses that contain just być; the discussion here centers around the difference between copular constructions with be+DPINST vs. be+DPNOM. Bondaruk incorporates into her proposal Roy’s (2006) observation that copular clauses can be either characterizing or defining. She argues that the status of PredP determines the predicate...