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Reviewed by:
  • Formal studies in Slovenian syntax: In honor of Janez Orešnik ed. by Franc Lanko Marušič, Rok Žaucer
  • Catherine Rudin
Formal studies in Slovenian syntax: In honor of Janez Orešnik. Ed. by Franc Lanko Marušič and Rok Žaucer. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2016. Pp. vi, 335. ISBN 9789027257192. $158 (Hb).

The publication of this book is a major event in Slavic linguistics. A glance at the table of contents engenders high expectations: the contributors are a who’s who of Slovenian generative linguistics, and the topics encompass the hot issues in Slavic syntax. And reading the articles does not disappoint. It is gratifying to see so much excellent work on one ‘minor’ Slavic language: a sign of the current vitality of generative Slavic linguistics as a whole. Inevitably, some chapters are more elegantly written than others, but overall the book is a pleasure to read. The editors are to be congratulated for making this fine collection of papers available.

One quibble is that the volume’s Slovenian syntax title is not quite accurate: one or two of the chapters have little to do with Slovenian, and some focus as much or more on semantics as on syntax. All of the papers are strongly grounded in formal theory (of one sort or another), but they vary considerably in their emphasis on Slovenian as opposed to theoretical or crosslinguistic viewpoints. Nonetheless, the book is unusually cohesive for a festschrift.

A useful introduction by the editors explores contributions of Slovenian studies to formal syntax. Janez Orešnik, the volume’s honoree, was among the first to encourage the study of generative grammar in Slovenia and to apply it to the Slovenian language. Thanks in part to his influence, Slovenian has had an impact on the development of syntactic theory in several areas. These include the ‘orphan accusative’ construction, which gives evidence that definite pronouns are all animate, even when null; arguments for monoclausal vs. biclausal analyses of feel like constructions; double applicatives, which show datives can merge either high or low (or both); studies of verbal prefixation/resultative secondary predication; the adjectival definite article -ta and evidence for the structure of AP; arguments both for and against Bošković’s NP/DP hypothesis; and closest conjunct agreement. Work in the volume bears on some of these issues, among many others.

The contributions are ordered alphabetically by author’s name rather than grouped thematically. This obscures some common threads. Grouping by topic might have highlighted and encouraged comparison among various approaches to clitics (papers by Bošković, Dobnik & Cooper, Franks, Stegovec, and parts of Marušič & Žaucer), for instance. Another group of papers share a strong semantic orientation (Dobnik & Cooper, Mitrović, Rivero & Milojević Sheppard). Browne, Marušič & Žaucer, and Živanović present novel data from Slovenian and share a diachronic focus. Hladnik, Mitrović, and Mišmaš share a concern for clause structure and the left periphery of CP. However, the papers do not all fit easily into such categories. I have chosen in the remainder of this review to follow the editors’ lead, briefly summarizing each paper in the order in which it appears in the volume.

Željko Bošković (‘On second position clitics crosslinguistically’) continues his project of relating various phenomena to the (non)existence of a DP projection in a given language, here claiming that second-position clitic systems are available only in ‘NP’ languages. Arguments come from Australian languages, Comanche, and several Slavic languages, among others (but oddly for this volume, there are only a few sentences about Slovenian). A proposed explanation of the 2P/NP correlation is based on the nonbranching structure of clitics, the status of pronouns as D in DP languages but NP in NP languages, and a condition *Stranded D, or more generally *Stranded Functional Head. The account is complex, sometimes less than clear (Bošković considers alternative versions of parts of the account), and dependent on numerous theory-internal assumptions. Nonetheless, it is a significant contribution: if correct it has implications for other phenomena crosslinguistically, including P-stranding and which functional categories license ellipsis. [End Page 220]

Wayles Browne, in ‘Participles come back to Slovenian’, discusses...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 220-223
Launched on MUSE
2018-03-15
Open Access
No
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