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Geert E. Booij, Christian Lehmann, Joachim Mugdan, and Stavros Skopeteas, editors: Morphologie/Morphology. Ein internationales Handbuch zur Flexion und Wortbildung, 2. Halbband/An International Handbook on Inflection and Word-Formation, vol 2.

Geert E. Booij, Christian Lehmann, Joachim Mugdan, and Stavros Skopeteas, editors: Morphologie/Morphology. Ein internationales Handbuch zur Flexion und Wortbildung, 2. Halbband/An International Handbook on Inflection and Word-Formation, vol 2. HSK 17-2. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2004. xi + 973-2000. ISBN 978-3-11-017278-2.

Volume 2, the second half of Morphology: An International Handbook on Inflection and Word-formation (henceforth HoM, viz. HoM2), must not only be appreciated as forming a set with its somewhat older sibling, Volume 1 (HoM1), but also as competition with Blackwell's Handbook of Morphology (Spencer and Zwicky 1998, henceforth BHoM). In the background, of course, there are other volumes in the handbook series: in particular we note overlap between HoM and the volumes on syntax and linguistic typology. The two volumes of HoM are like Siamese twins: HoM1 contains a preface by the editors (first in German and then in English) that provides a background to the whole set, i.e., it explains the goals and structure of the two-volume set, as well as the basic principles the editors and contributors adhered to in the course of the preparation of this work. This preface is neither repeated in HoM2, nor replaced by any text with a comparable function. On the other hand, all of the back matter serving the whole set is found at the end of HoM2. The usefulness of its back matter will be assessed towards the end of this review, which will be followed by some suggestions for future volumes in the series.

Overall HoM features a total number of 176 articles organized into 21 chapters: the second volume contains 12 chapters, with 83 articles by 97 internationally renowned contributors (some of them contributing more than one article, while a number of articles are co-authored). Despite an attempt to be inclusive, in a review of a volume of such scope many contributions can, unfortunately, be no more than just noted. The articles in this second volume are written either in English or German, with just one article in French, while one article was translated from Russian into German. The editors emphasize this in their preface (p. xxi):

[t]his handbook is international in various senses. It reflects conceptions of morphology that have developed in diverse parts of the world. It describes morphological properties of languages from all five continents. And its contributors are specialists from practically all the countries in which morphology is studied.

This clearly reveals that efforts to maintain the international character of the Handbook were probably consciously included as part of the volume's conception. This is certainly highly laudable, when compared to the heavy Anglo-Saxon bias of BHoM. HoM2, and HoM as a whole, is thus much more international in this respect than BHoM, whose 32 articles are written by 39 scholars from eight countries, only 6 of whom come from non-English-speaking countries. However, in trying to counterbalance this, the editors may have become guilty of something like jumping out of the frying-pan into fire: almost one third of authors (specifically, of 31 out of 97 articles) come from a German-speaking country, which compares with 20% of articles authored by contributors affiliated with institutions in German-speaking countries in HoM1. German universities and German scholars may be considered to be the traditional bastion of morphology--this is where after all morphology came into being as a linguistic discipline--but since the advent of American structuralism they no longer have the monopoly, or even a clear lead in the field, which means that overall German authors might be overrepresented in this handbook. However, when we compare this volume and HoM as a whole to earlier volumes in this handbook series, the overall tendency is clear: German, let alone French, is gradually losing ground to English in these handbooks, as an ever larger proportion of articles are written in the latter language.

More or less similar remarks apply to the choice of language: the editors remain silent on the choice of language in contributions, but almost one in four articles in HoM2 are written in German (roughly the same proportion as in HoM1). While this effort to make the handbook less Anglocentric is understandable, in view of the role of German in discussions on morphology in the past, the fact remains that in spite of many morphologists outside Germany being familiar with German (as morphologists) and even able to use the language, a large portion of the handbook is inaccessible for a wider audience. Note that all the articles in BHoM are written in English.

Let us now turn directly to the volume under review, chapter by chapter. As pointed out in the preface to HoM1, the chapters in the set may be assigned to four large thematic sections, but these sections are not neatly divided between the two half volumes, as HoM2 opens with two chapters that belong together with chapters 6 to 12 of Volume 1, to what the editors call "the core of the handbook." Both of these chapters dealing with semantic categories and operations in morphology may be considered to be among the highlights of this volume.

The chapter on entity concepts begins with an article by L. Mackenzie. It is followed by nine articles elaborating morphological categories that have to do with various entities, such as deixis and reference, person, classifiers, gender and noun classes, diminution and augmentation, number, mass and collection, case, and possession.

The chapter on morphological categories, expressing distinctions related to states-of-affairs, property and related concepts, commences with an article by K. Hengeveld. It is followed by ten articles on individual categories. Although only the titles of four of these are in a sense unconventional because they do not hint at any established morphological categories or concepts, it is in fact the whole chapter that takes a refreshingly innovative perspective on how conceptual-grammatical distinctions can be expressed morphologically (which may be considered in a way an onomasiological perspective on morphology). Here we find illuminating discussions of such traditional categories as voice (M. Shibatani), aspect and aktionsart (R. Boogaart), illocution, mood and modality (K. Hengeveld), negation (D. N. S. Bhat), or comparison and gradation (P. Cuzzolin and Ch. Lehmann). To give an impression of what goes on in this chapter we may dwell on a couple of articles here: S. A. Thompson thus takes the idea of property concepts as a starting point in the identification of the notional basis for the widespread grammatical category of adjective and proceeds to discover how these concepts may/must be expressed by other lexical classes in languages that have or do not have that word class. Charles J. Fillmore in his article on circumstance concepts is concerned with the inflectional or derivational means of expressing notions such as location of participants or events as a whole in space, the temporal extent of an event, the manner in which a process takes place, etc. M. Haspelmath and Th. Muller-Bardey's article is an exciting investigation of various types of valency-changing morphology, i.e., various categories involving valency decrease (or argument removal), or valency increase (or valency augmentation). As they move across types of valency change and across language types, they note general properties of valency-changing morphology as well as their diachronic sources. G. P. Reesink's article on interclausal relations is closely related to Fillmore's contribution. It is concerned with semantic notions cross-cutting the syntactic notions of subordination and coordination, viz. interclausal relations of temporal sequence and simultaneity, condition, cause, reason, contrast, etc. It appears that the more specific semantic relations between clauses correlate with enlisting more morphological devices to mark them as such.

These two chapters on fundamental issues are followed by four chapters concerned with how morphological phenomena are instantiated in diverse languages. Chapter 15 takes a typological perspective, identifying morphological universals and suggesting their motivation. The articles in Chapter 16 are individual descriptive sketches of morphological systems of 24 selected natural languages representing various language families. The perspective then switches from synchronic to diachronic in Chapters 17 and 18, which deal with morphological change. The articles in Chapter 17 consider various issues and aspects of morphological change, while seven case studies on morphological change function as illustrative counterparts of the articles in Chapter 16.

The articles in Chapter 16 offer descriptive sketches of morphological systems of selected natural languages representing various language families, ranging from better-known Indo-European families such as Germanic (German), Romance (represented by French morphology, where the choice of the language, the metalanguage, that is, seems to be more than puzzling: it appears only commonsensical that linguists or students of linguistics not very fluent in French, or not speaking the language at all, should be the primary readership targeted for this article. But then how are they to extract the information they need if they are unable to penetrate the language barrier?) and Slavic (Russian), to some relatively well-known Indo-European languages (Ancient Greek) and non-Indo-European languages spoken in the Old World (Finnish, Hebrew, Turkish), to indigenous languages spoken in the Americas, Australasia and Africa. The Native American languages of North America are represented by Koyukon of the Athapaskan family, Montagnais or Innuaimun of the Algonquian family, as well as by West Greenlandic of the Inuit branch of Eskimo languages. Among the South American native language families illustrated we find Tupi-Guarani with a sketch of Guarani, Uto-Aztecan in the article on Nahuatl, the Quechua family, and Peba-Yaguan with a sketch of Yagua. Among the Asian languages illustrated in the volume, we are lucky to have sketches of two more or less endangered languages: Hunzib, belonging to North-East Caucasian family, that is spoken by just 2,000 speakers, and Ketic, belonging to Yenisseian family, spoken by roughly 1,000 speakers. Other languages spoken in Asia are represented by Tagalog (Austronesian), Vietnamese, as an example of the Viet-Muong family, as well as by Wambon, a Papuan language of the Awyu family. The native languages of Australia are illustrated in an article on Diyari (Pama-Nyungan family). The African morphological diversity is illustrated by Turkana of the Nilotic family, Twi of the Kwa family, and by the Bantu language Kinyarwanda. The chapter ends with articles on German Sign Language and planned languages.

The articles in this chapter, comprising almost exactly one third of the whole HoM2 (discounting the language indices), are organized according to a uniform schema, despite the editors' claims to the contrary (HoM1, p. xxvii). After some basic facts on the language in question, such as the history and the present status of the language, its linguistic area, the number of speakers, and dialectal situation, the authors provide a general typological characterization of the language and then proceed to consider word classes, inflectional and derivational morphology, deviating from this schema insofar as required by the morphological system of the language in question. All the sketches on non-Indo-European languages (but also on Ancient Greek) end with an illustrative sample text, transliterated, if necessary, and complete with detailed interlinear glosses and translation. The reference sections in these articles cover all aspects of less well-known languages, but, in the case of more widely known languages, they restrict themselves to morphological phenomena and processes (although they can be quite extensive, as in the article on German with its 168 references running over 7 consecutive pages, practically all of them dealing with morphological aspects). The authors refrain in most of these articles from using any conceptual tools or notions specific to particular linguistic models or frameworks, unless these are necessitated by the morphological systems under description (cf. Tobin applying his sign-oriented approach to the description of Hebrew binyanim, Clarke and MacKenzie making use of Talmy's distinction between satellite-framing and verbframing languages), thus making these sketches even more uniform, more easily accessible for novices, and mutually comparable. As far as the practical usefulness of these sketches is concerned, this is good news. However, considering the fact that these sketches may have been used as a testing ground for various competing models and schools (that exist despite the editors' conscious efforts to downplay this theoretical diversity and successfully avoid polemic overtones (HoM1, p. xxiii)), this is less than happy.

While HoM and BHoM are in many respects very different enterprises, there are some obvious parallels between HoM2 and BHoM. The latter also contains a section with morphological sketches of ten selected languages (actually closing the handbook). These sketches are, however, different from those in HoM2 in that they do not follow any particular schema in the order of the presentation of morphological phenomena and processes. The motivation for the inclusion of languages, which also dictates the internal organization of articles, is here very simple: they are very selective descriptive fragments highlighting certain phenomena that editors "believe to be of interest to the widest circle of linguists" (p. 8). Since they are highly selective, the net impression is that this part is more dynamic than its HoM2 counterpart, as the latter suffers from a certain amount of "idle motion", due to the above mentioned uniform schema. While some of the phenomena that get showcased in BHoM can only be identified in some of these languages "under certain theoretical interpretation of facts" (p. 8), these sketches are cast in a relatively model-free form, just like their counterparts in HoM2. One might wish the two handbooks had included a more overlapping selection of languages, but this is, unfortunately, not the case, and no direct comparison is possible.

After this long series of morphological sketches, the perspective in HoM2 switches from predominantly synchronic to diachronic in Chapters 17 and 18, which deal with morphological change. The ten articles in Chapter 17 consider various issues and aspects of morphological change. They are introduced by a longer article on fundamental issues by G. Koefoed and J. van Marle. The individual papers that follow address a wide range of topics, from grammaticalization of syntax into morphology, and morphologization of phonology, through analogical change, remotivation and reinterpretation, lexicalization and demotivation, and changes in productivity, to borrowing and caique formation, pidginization, creolization, and language death, and reconstruction. Chapter 18 mirrors the function of Chapter 16 in that it offers seven case studies on morphological change: from Old English to Modern English, from Old High German to New High German, from Latin to French, from Vedic to modern Indic languages, from Archaic Chinese to Mandarin, from Classical Arabic to Modern Arabic, as well as on morphological change in Tok Pisin.

While HoM and BHoM are in many respects very different enterprises, there are some obvious parallels between HoM2 and BHoM. Just like HoM2, BHoM has a section on morphology as part of what its editors call "hyphenated linguistics" (p. 7), i.e., on morphology in a wider setting, which corresponds to the last three chapters in HoM2. The first of these, Chapter 19, "Psycholinguistic perspectives", provides an account of how morphological structures are represented and processed in the human brain and an account of what evidence from study of language acquisition (both first language and second language acquisition) and deviant language usage (speech errors and language disorders such as aphasia) can reveal about the reality of these representations. Chapter 20, entitled Morphology in practice, carries articles concerned with some practical aspects of morphological work, such as collection, processing and presentation of data. It demonstrates that these, while all matters of practice, belong to different planes of activity: field work and the art of interlinear morphemic glossing clearly belong to methodological aspects of morphology in practice, forming essential input for analysis, while the problems of handling morphological phenomena in grammaticographic and lexicographic works are post-festum aspects of morphological analysis. The article on computational linguistics, the last one in this chapter, is ambivalent in this respect. It is concerned with the development of a morphological module in computational linguistic applications and with how this can be put to use by morphologists in their research, or in machine translation systems, etc. but it also deals with the issue of morphological representation and "learning" of morphology in an artificial intelligence environment. The final chapter, Morphology and related disciplines, is in our opinion the least coherent one (while its title is something of a misnomer, to say the least). Instead of articles on the interface between morphology and syntax, morphology and phonology and such (all matters that have been discussed elsewhere in HoM, specifically in Chapter 5 in HoM1), we are disappointed to find here discussions of more marginal cases of interfacing such as the morphology of proper nouns, the role of word formation in research on etymology, as well as discussions of issues that have more practical relevance, such as morphological aspects of literacy and writing systems, on terminology in special languages, and on language teaching.

The volume is supplemented by language maps and indices. It is a bit puzzling why language maps follow the list of abbreviations in the back matter (while the strange mix of metalanguages used in naming object languages is irritating, to say the least, e.g., in the legend under the map of Europe, we find English, Francais, Deutsch, Russisch, Finnish, Hebrew and Turkisch). Since the seven maps show the geographic distribution of the 24 languages selected for descriptive sketches, continent by continent, with Asia split on two maps, we think that they may have served better at the beginning of the relevant chapter, perhaps accompanied by a few words on the principles underlying the compilation of these sketches. Similarly, the four-page list of abbreviations may have been reproduced at the beginning of each of the two volumes in the set.

There are also three indices: an index of names, an index of languages, and a subject index. While one can very well use either of the two volumes without the first two indices, the index of subjects is so essential that the practical usability of HoM1 was seriously diminished for almost four years separating the publication of the two volumes. In view of this, the general editor of the series should have considered the preparation of separate indices for two volume sets, or at least an auxiliary index for both volumes on insertable sheets, or downloadable from the series Web page (just like the tables of contents and some sample chapters are available online for more recent volumes), delivered and/or posted when the preparation of the second volume was in an advanced stage. It also seems that the handbook series has come to a point where a more comprehensive project of preparing a special volume with cumulative indices should be considered, particularly in view of massive thematic overlap between individual volumes (HoM clearly overlaps with the volumes on semantics, lexicology, syntax, linguistic typology, and contact linguistics, to say the least). One way of keeping conceptual unity and/or enabling a better thematic overview is simply reprinting an article in more than one reference work, as is done, for example, by Elsevier in some of its linguistic encyclopedias (cf. Mey 1998; Brown and Miller 1999). The original policy of de Gruyter's handbook series was to give the editors of volumes and article authors a relatively free hand concerning the contents, and this eventually results in massive overlap, repetition, and sometimes even in partial contradiction. An auxiliary volume with cumulative indices would certainly help regular users of these handbooks gain a more comprehensive, if not always a clearer, picture. It would certainly help them retrieve and compare more information more quickly.

At a more specific level, the usefulness of indices at the end of HoM is somewhat diminished by two unfortunate design features: the first is the omission of the volume number that might have followed enclosed in parentheses, as one need not always be immediately aware that page 1084 or 1121 is in the first or in the second volume (Keep in mind that this is a matter of handling volumes that weigh over four pounds each). Another problematic aspect stems from the general bilingual design, from the bilingual title, cover, the front matter, to the subject index (but notice that all recto headers with the titles of chapters are consistently in German, regardless of the language of the article(s) on that page).

As for the language index, we note that, surprisingly, there is no entry for German as such, we only find Deutsch/German or Germanic languages. Similarly, Croatian is given a separate subentry only under Serbo-Croatian. In the subject index, having entries in both German and English most of the time boils down to three possibilities:

i. either a subject is mentioned in English or in German text(s), and consequently has only a single language entry,

ii. a subject is mentioned in texts in both languages, and it is given in both languages (separated by a slash), as both terms are ultimately derived from a common (classical) source and have very close orthography;

iii. a subject is mentioned in texts in both languages, but it is given separate entries, as the terms are not phonologically cognate, e.g., blending and Wortkreuzung. This last situation is really unfortunate because there are no cross-references. There is no way of getting from blending to Wortkreuzung, or the other way round, unless you know what you are looking for, which cannot be expected from novices in the field.

We didn't discover many typographical errors in the second volume, which testifies to the high standards of the series and the care with which the manuscripts in this volume were prepared. The few typos there are, are mainly found in German articles, or German index entries, such as Verbreitungsgleicheit and Entstehung der Wort, both on the second to last page of the volume. The most amusing one is no doubt evidenced in the inclusion of the mysterious term Beibehaltung der Abteilungsrichtung 'preservation of department direction', which should have actually been Beibehaltung der Ableitungsrichtung 'preservation of the direction of derivation' on p. 1986 in the index (and which appears of course correctly in the article on p. 1608). These minor problems and typos are just petty quibbles that cannot take away in any significant degree from the overall achievements of this second volume and the handbook as a whole.

The editors should in our opinion be congratulated for producing a highly valuable handbook that should serve as a reference work for years to come. BHoM, which tends to be more on the popular and trendy side, may have the market at the moment, but HoM is more likely to have longer and deeper impact, particularly with the non-lay readership. Unlike BHoM, which is focused on the state-of-art research in the field, particularly on interface problems, and often committed to particular models, HoM not only introduces the reader to the current thinking in a wide range of areas, but also provides her/him with historical perspectives, while deliberately refraining from any theoretical bootstrapping that might prevent the identification of research topics. Likening the two volumes to museums, we could say that a visit to Blackwell's gallery of modern art with its avant-garde exhibits (some of which may prove in time to be ephemeral) does not rule out a visit to de Gruyter's imperial museum with exhibits belonging to various periods, representing many styles and topics depicted using all manners of techniques. There is also a difference in price: while BHoM is affordable for students and laypersons (it is even downloadable for subscribers of Blackwell's Linguist List Plus), HoM carries a hefty price (but is an ever so essential purchase for any respectable academic library). All in all, the two should best be viewed as complementary reference works rather than directly competing.

Our final verdict on HoM is that waiting (im)patiently for the whole set to be completed was worthwhile: it is encyclopedic in both its scope and coverage, its articles offering the expected compact overview of a wide range of topics, as we move from chapter to chapter, from historical and fundamental issues to conceptual, analytic, descriptive, and applied ones, along the line projected by the editors. All this guarantees that the influence of HoM will be far-reaching and long-lasting.


Booij, Geert E.; Lehmann, Christian; Mugdan, Joachim (eds.), in collaboration with Kesselheim, Wolfgang and Skopeteas, Stavros (2000). Morphologie/Morphology. Ein internationales Handbuch zur Flexion und Wortbildung, 1. Halbband/An International Handbook on Inflection and Word-Formation, vol. 1. HSK 17-1). Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter.

Brown, Keith and Miller, Jim (eds.) (1999). Concise Encyclopedia of Grammatical Categories. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Mey, Jacob L. (ed.) (1998). Concise Encyclopedia of Pragmatics. Amsterdam: Elsevier. Spencer, Andrew and Zwicky, Arnold M. (eds.) (1998). The Handbook of Morphology. Oxford: Blackwell.



Lorand Eotvos University, Budapest

Josip Juraj Strossmayer University

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Author:Brdar-Szabo, Rita; Brdar, Mario
Publication:Linguistics: an interdisciplinary journal of the language sciences
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2007
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