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  • Word order change in acquisition and language contact: Essays in honour of Ans van Kemenade ed. by Bettelou Los, Pieter de Haan
  • George Walkden
Word order change in acquisition and language contact: Essays in honour of Ans van Kemenade. Ed. by Bettelou Los and Pieter de Haan. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2017. Pp. ix, 376. ISBN 9789027257260. $158 (Hb).

This book is a festschrift for Ans van Kemenade, a leading Dutch linguist and a pioneer in applying the tools of generative syntax to the study of language change. The contributions to this volume are written by colleagues, collaborators, and former students and reflect her research interests and contributions to the field: in particular, syntactic change, information structure, word order, comparative Germanic linguistics, language contact, and the history of English.

After a brief introduction by the editors, the book is divided into five parts, of which Part I deals with grammar change and information structure. Roland Hinterhölzl’s chapter outlines [End Page 985] a scenario for the loss of OV word order in an antisymmetric, cartographic, phase-based framework. His claim is that the data presented by Taylor and Pintzuk (2015) can be understood without recourse to the double base hypothesis if specifically prosodic conditions are taken into account as well as information structure. Marit Westergaard looks at violations of V2 in northern Norwegian wh-questions, finding that certain V2 violations are robustly accepted in judgment tasks but almost never produced; she argues that this kind of discrepancy can have important implications when drawing inferences about grammaticality from historical corpora. The chapter by Theresa Biberauer and Ian Roberts looks at the dwindling domain of conditional inversion in English, concluding that a mesoparameter becomes a microparameter becomes a nanoparameter, though the basic operation of conditional inversion remains identical throughout. Biberauer’s solo chapter, rounding off this part of the book, deals with optional V2 in embedded wh-clauses in modern spoken Afrikaans. Her proposal is that this is linked to Afrikaans’s special clause-peripheral polarity marker nie, which leads to the innovation of an extra layer of structure in all clauses.

Parts II and III both deal with verb-second: Part II is about the first position, while Part III addresses what exactly it is that comes second. Gea Dreschler’s chapter looks at subject positions in Old English, in particular the prediction that late (VP-internal) subjects in passive clauses should be discourse-new. Roughly, the prediction is borne out: discourse-familiar subjects are very rarely fronted. Ch. 7, by Erwin Komen, also addresses subject positions, looking at whether subjects in different positions allow deletion under coordination and what subject-verb relations obtain. The hypothesis is that the decline in these subject properties prefigures the loss of the subject position, and the evidence partially bears this out. The chapter by Ann Taylor and Susan Pintzuk is about split coordination in earlier English (e.g. the king came and his company), tracking the possibility of separating the two conjuncts. Taylor and Pintzuk argue for a movement-based analysis that coexists with an ellipsis-based analysis and is lost by the end of the Early Modern period.

Part III opens with a chapter by Monique Tangelder and Bettelou Los on meter and verb position in Beowulf, suggesting that the non-V2 structures found in poetry are relics of an earlier stage of the language’s syntax, and drawing corroborating evidence from the poem’s first 500 lines. Ch. 10, by Gertjan Postma, posits a connection between the rise and fall of the passive auxiliary weorthan and the rise and fall of strict V2 in the history of English, and models this as a ‘failed change’ in the sense of Postma 2010. Marianne Starren’s chapter rounds off this section by contrasting German, Dutch, and English narrative-structuring patterns. She shows that Dutch seems to pattern with German rather than English in its use of temporal linkers to begin utterances, as well as avoidance of inanimate subjects in narrative.

Part IV contains three...


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