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Handbook of quantifiers in natural language.

Handbook of quantifiers in natural language. Edited by Edward L. Keenan and Denis Paperno. New York: Springer, 2012. Pp. 972. ISBN 9789400726819. $499.99 (Pb/Hb).

Speakers use quantifiers to express the definite or indefinite number of the thing to which a noun or pronoun refers. In other words, a quantifier modifies nouns or pronouns by syntactically determining its number. Handbook of quantifiers in natural language classifies examples of quantificational expressions in English and provides semantically comparable expressions in another sixteen languages.

The editors ground the Handbook in the now classical distinction between A- and D- notation for quantificational expressions established by Barbara Partee (1995). A-type quantificational expressions usually combine with predicates to form more complex predicates and expressions. This A-quantifiers type includes words such as once, twice, always, mostly, often, almost, only, and so on. They may be affixes on a verb stem, an incorporated nominal, a pre-verb, an auxiliary verb, a main verb, an adverbial or prepositional phrase, or even bounding phrases. D-type quantificational expressions normally are nominal expressions, or ones that combine with other kinds of expressions to form nominal expressions, which bind arguments of predicates. This kind of quantifier includes words such as few, every, many, most, enough, whoever, and so on. Thus, D-quantifiers are items that may fail to be determiners. Since the use of A- and D- quantifiers always is determined by the morpho-syntactically grouping quantificational expressions, the book does not provide any particular compositional semantics associated with the quantifiers. It only provides a particular syntactic analysis that serves as a description of quantification in the particular language (L) surveyed.

The book is divided into 18 chapters. Chapter 1 serves as an introduction to the entire volume (1-20). Edward L. Keenan provides an open questionnaire, which contains a number of queries concerning the properties of quantifiers in natural language, and gives answers for those questions in English. The list of questions is more a guide than mandatory for the case studies, and its purpose is not to give a rigid English-based quantification structure to the authors but to provide an idea of how to descriptively organize their chapters. The subsequent chapters, then, are a collection of descriptive and material data that explain whether the particular L there analyzed follows or diverges from the English-based schema.

In Chapter 2, Liudmila Nikolaeva focuses on the various and diverse syntactic and morphological means that Adyghe, or West Circassian, uses to express quantification (21-82). This language is spoken by 425,000 speakers mainly in the Russian regions of Krasnodar and Adyghe republic but also in Turkey and other Middle East countries, and jointly with Kabardian constitutes the Abkhazo-Adyghean language family (Northwest Caucasian). Since Adyghe is typologically non-configurational, Nikolaeva explains quantification as syntactically discontinuous expressions.

Urtzi Etxeberria overviews in Chapter 3 the Quantifiers in Basque (83-176), a language spoken in the Basque Country, a region that extends between northern Spain and southern France. Because it is the only remaining pre-Roman language in Europe, it is a language isolate with no known relatives and uncertain origins, probably a descendent of the Aquitanian language. Subject-object-verb (SOV) is the neutral word order of Basque. And even though internal phrase order is mostly fixed in Basque, phrase combination is quite flexible but highly grammatical, which allows Etxeberria to explain the complexity of Basque quantifiers.

Chapter 4 centers on Garifuna (177-226). As Jena Barchas-Lichtenstein explains, Garifuna is an Arawak language mainly spoken in Belize and Honduras. Its word order usually is verb-subject-object (VSO), but can vary because Garifuna has a number of loan-words and grammar auxiliaries (that come after the verb) that express tense, aspect, focus, and transitivity. Garifuna quantification is extremely complex basically because, even though A-quantifiers have internal noun phrase-like structure, there seems to be no unifying syntax that links the various types of quantifier construction.

Quantification in German is the topic of Chapter 5, by Gregory M. Kobele and Malte Zimmermann (227-84). Generally, German noun phrases are ordered in a rigid way. Determiners precede adjectives, which precede nouns preceding their components and clausal adjuncts. Nonetheless, since the basic word order patterns in German are not always so neatly sketched, the way German expresses quantification becomes complex. This chapter analyzes how German builds intersective, co-intersective, and propositional quantifiers, among a variety of other topics.

Anastasia Giannakidou surveys, in Chapter 6, the way that Greek construes quantification (285-346). Spoken by nearly 20 million speakers, mainly in Greece and Cyprus, Greek is an Indo-European language. Even though originally Greek had different variables, now Greek is mainly a homogenous language based on the Demotic variety's vocabulary, morphology, and syntax. Since Greek allows extensive freedom of word order, quantification is highly distinct from the English-like schema. Giannakidou, however, does a good job providing a description of the main syntactic constructions to differently express quantification in Greek.

Chapter 7, by Itamar Francez and Katja Goldring, analyzes quantifiers in Modern Hebrew (347-98). Even though Modern Hebrew has a subject-verb-object (SVO) typological structure similar to English well fixed in its grammar, the authors describe how and why the standard oral variety of Modern Hebrew diverges significantly from written and prescribed forms.

Aniko Csirmaz and Anna Zsabolsci's chapter 8 describes quantification in Hungarian (399-466). After presenting and summarizing some basic syntactical and morphological characteristics of Hungarian, the authors focus on quantifiers. In Hungarian, quantification phrases appear in all major grammatical functions, mainly in different quantifier regions in the preverbal field. However, their position in these regions is always and exclusively determined by the quantificational or semantic properties of the expression. The grammatical function of the quantifier noun phrase plays no role at all in this determination.

Italian Quantification is the topic of chapter 9, by Paola Crisma (467-534). The chapter suggests some interesting observations that show some contrast with the English quantification structures. Italian has one monomorphemic quantifier of the word 'all'. Nonetheless, it distinguishes between a collective D-universal quantifier (tuttoli) and two distributive ones (ogni and ciascuno), Italian has a monomorphemic quantifier for 'one' (unio), that is no different from the indefinite article. In Italian, there are three monomorphemic value judgment quantifiers that translate as many (tanto/i, moltoli, and parecchio/i) but only one translating little/few (pocoli). A-quantifiers are usually morpho-syntactically more complex than D-quantifiers, as the translations for never (mai), always (sempre), and often (spesso) are the only monomorphemic A-quantifiers in Italian.

Chapter 10, by J.-R. Hayashishita and Ayumi Ueyama, analyzes quantity Expressions in Japanese (535-612). The chapter describes Japanese as a subject-object-verb (SOV) structural and functional language. Thus, all nominal expressions that serve as arguments of verbs require accompaniment by a case-maker. The authors survey and explain how this syntactic characteristic affects the ways that Japanese expresses quantification.

Rita Hanitramalala and Ueana Paul describe Malagasy Quantifiers in Chapter 11 (613-46). Malagasy is a non-configurational language but with a more or less Verb-Object-Subject (VOS) rigid word order. It belongs to the Austronesian family and is spoken primarily in Madagascar. Since Malagasy quantifiers do not accompany determiners in this language, the chapter analyzes how Malagasy has a range of both quantifiers that appear within the nominal domain and quantifiers that modify the verb phrase or the clause.

Chapter 12 offers a description of the way that Taiwan Mandarin construes quantification (647-98). Its authors, Grace C.-H. Kuo and Kritine M. Yu, emphasize the diversity and complexity of quantifiers in this language and provide a survey of the inventory of quantifiers in Taiwan Mandarin that highlight some particular morphological and syntactic phenomena and characteristics involving quantification.

In chapter 13, Marcus Smith gives an account of Pima quantifiers (699-728). Pima is a Uto-Aztecan language spoken in central and southern Arizona. Pima is a non-configurational language and was employed together with its mutually intelligible sister language (and better studied) Tohono O'odham to characterize this kind of syntactic feature. Thus, all six logical permutations of subject, object, and verb are possible with interpretative differences lying largely in the information structure. In Pima, as Smith explains, D-quantifiers are not determiners; they are adnominal expressions that may occur within the determiner phrase. A-quantifiers function as adverbs, usually appearing before the verbs, but with significant flexibility. The chapter offers a survey of the ways that Pima build these quantifiers.

Quantification in Standard Russian is the topic of Chapter 14, by Denis Paperno (729-80). Paperno defines Standard Russian has having one of the more conservative grammatical structures of all the Indo-European languages, and basically the selection properties of A- and D- quantifiers are elaborated but fixed.

In Chapter 15, Ravi Ponamgi analyzes quantification in Telegu (781-844), a Central Dravidian language with 70 million speakers mainly in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It has a verb final typological structure and has a relatively free pre-verbal word order. The chapter describes the three basic classes of (1,1) quantifiers (universal, existential and proportional quantifiers) but also other more complex quantification phenomena.

Hrayr Khanjian is the author of Chapter 16, which focuses on quantification in Western Armenian (845-90). Western Armenian has a subject-object-verb (SOV) typological structure with loose restrictions on word order. As other final verb languages, Western Armenian is mostly postpositional and mainly suffixing. The majority of quantifiers in Western Armenian are polymorphemic and precede the noun phrase they quantify over, with a few exceptions, as the chapter shows.

Wolof quantifiers are the topic analyzed by Khady Tamba, Harold Torrence, and Malte Zimmermann in Chapter 17 (891-940). One of the Atlantic sub-branch (Senegambian group) of the Niger-Congo family, Wolof is mainly spoken in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania, but also in Mali, Guinea-Bissau, France and the US by a total of 3.2 million people, without been formally taught. The chapter discusses some outstanding issues in the construction, analysis, and description of quantifiers in Wolof, and focuses primarily on the existential, universal, and value judgment quantifiers.

Chapter 18, an overview written by Edward L. Keenan and Denis Paperno (941-50), provides a list of generalizations for quantifiers supported by these case studies and an independent work on quantifiers in Finnish.

The Handbook is, essentially, a roadmap of the ways that natural language builds quantificational scenarios. Even though it primarily focuses on the languages analyzed, the volume also provides some general conclusions about the characteristics of quantification in natural language. It is an excellent book. It is the perfect introduction for both students and scholars interested in quantification, and also for the general public.


PARTEE, BARBARA. 1995. Quantificational structures and compositionality. Quantification in natural language, ed. by Emmon Bach, Eloise Jelinek, Angelika Kratzer, and Barbara Partee, 541-601. Dordrecht: Kluvver Academic Publisher.

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Author:Colomina-Alminana, Juan J.
Publication:International journal of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 1, 2014

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