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  • Studies in phonological theory and historical linguistics by Bill J. Darden
  • Rick Derksen
Bill J. Darden Studies in phonological theory and historical linguistics. Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2015. viii + 434 pp. ISBN 978-089357-446-8.

As suggested by its title, this collection of studies by Bill Darden consists of two parts. The first part contains 17 articles on historical linguistics, 14 of which were originally published in the 1990s. The topics range from Proto-Indo-European and Balto-Slavic to Baltic and Slavic individually. The 10 articles on phonological theory which make up the second part of the book were for the greater part published in the 1970s and 1980s. The most recent phonological study, which is also the article that concludes the volume, is a retrospective on phonology in Chicago in the period 1965–2004. Considering that the author has "never felt any disconnect between diachronic linguistics and linguistic theory" (1), it will come as no surprise that the division between the two parts of the book is not as strict as it may seem. The phonological studies feature many examples from Slavic and Baltic that involve historical developments, while phonological theory is employed to gain a better understanding of historical changes. Throughout the collection one can observe an interaction between phonological theory and empirical findings.

Since I feel that I could hardly do justice to Darden's theoretical work on phonology and morphophonology, I shall focus on the first part of the book. The earliest article on historical linguistics in this collection (Darden 1979) is actually, I am ashamed to admit, the only publication that I knew beforehand. It is a critical assessment of Illič-Svityč's monograph on Slavic and Baltic nominal accentuation (1963, English translation 1979), which tries to clarify the relationship between Slavic and Baltic nominal accent paradigms while providing comparative proof for its Indo-European origins. Darden rejects Illič-Svityč's claims, finding himself closer to Kuryłowicz's view that the Balto-Slavic and Indo-European accent classes are genetically unrelated. When I first read Darden's article, which must have been when I was working on my dissertation (Derksen 1996), I considered Kuryłowicz's accentological work largely obsolete and, to be honest, I see no reason to change my mind. Darden makes a number of valid points, however, as I already realized at the time. First, Illič-Svityč's [End Page 213] handling of data from dialect descriptions and manuscripts, which on the whole was a crucial step forward in comparison with that of many predecessors, occasionally seems somewhat eclectic (92). Second, there is the fundamental issue of to what extent it is justified to identify etyma from different branches of Indo-European as a form that can theoretically be traced to the same proto-form, since one or more cognates may have been created at a later stage (ibid.).1 I agree with Darden that some of Illič-Svityč's comparisons have little evidential value. It does not seem very useful, for instance, to compare Lith. gãnas 'herdsman', cf. ganýti 'to herd', directly with Skt. ghaná- 'striker, killer, club' (101; cf. Derksen 2015: 163). In a publication from 1989, Darden tries to evaluate part of Illič-Svityč's Lithuanian comparative data—the discussion is limited to nouns with a so-called short root—by classifying them into six categories. This categorization is based on the reliability of the etymological connection. Then he combines these sets of forms with a system that purports to quantify the reliability of the accentual variants. Darden again reaches the conclusion that Illič-Svityč's claims cannot be substantiated.

I have no intention of discussing Darden's accentological studies in detail, though his transparent and open presentation reads like an invitation to do so. I would like to point out, however, that apart from questioning certain aspects of Illič-Svityč's methodology, Darden also succeeds in pinpointing one of the main weaknesses of the monograph, to wit, the unconvincing treatment of the fate of the neuter o-stems (93). According to Illič-Svityč, Slavic neuter o-stems with a short root regularly correspond to Lithuanian masculine o-stems with mobile stress...


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