Martin Maiden, John Charles Smith and Adam Ledgeway, eds. The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages: Volume 1: Structures.
The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages is a two-volume series edited by Martin Maiden (Oxford University), John Charles Smith (Oxford University), and Adam Ledgeway (Cambridge University). The first volume, dealing with persistence and innovation in grammatical structures, was published in 2011, and is reviewed here. The second volume, Contexts, analyzes the influences and institution involved in the external history of the Romance languages, and has not yet appeared.
There are many innovative features of the first volume. One is that it is the only comparative history of the Romance languages written in English, rather than in a Romance language or in German. In order to keep the book accessible to nonRomanists, the editors have included extensive translation of Romance and Latin examples. Another unique aspect is the focus on comparative issues, and, in particular, "the major and most exciting insights to emerge from the comparative-historical study of Romance" (xvii-xviii), rather than focusing on individual structures or languages. The novelty that appeals to me the most is the attention paid to persistence in the history of the Romance languages. While most works on the topic focus exclusively on innovation, this volume gives equal attention to continuity in form.
This volume consists of 14 chapters, as well as 63 pages of endnotes, a 95page reference list, and a comprehensive index. There is also a list of contributors, a list of abbreviations, and a short introduction. All is meticulously edited.
The phonology chapters both go to Michele Loporcaro, one of the most prolific and well-respected scholars in the field of Romance phonology today. Chapter two, "Syllable, Segment and Prosody," and chapter three, "Phonological Processes," are typical of Loporcaro's work: extremely well documented with a myriad of data, yet exceedingly clear. In addition to the expected phenomena, Loporcaro provides a number of surprises often ignored in chapters of this type, such as an interesting discussion of the evolution of final vowels across Romance languages. His bibliography is vast and comprehensive, and spans three centuries: from ninteenth-century authors (Ascoli, Meyer-Lubke) up to the most recent of papers (for example, Goldbach 2010).
Two of the chapters on morphology--written by the one of the foremost Romance morphologists, Martin Maiden--perfectly illustrate the goals of the book to focus on both persistence (chapter four, "Morphological Persistence") as well as innovation (chapter five, "Morphophonological Innovation"). Maiden utilizes the notion of the "morphome" (Cf. Aronoff, Mark. Morphology by Itself. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994)--a unit of linguistic representation which has no support outside the morphological system--to provide an insightful and new perspective on some issues in Romance morphology. The morphome is central to his discussion of the "L-pattern," "U-pattern," and "N pattern" of verb allomorphy in which a distinctive root is found in certain inflectional forms; for example, the "L-pattern" root is found in the first-person singular present indicative and all of the present subjunctive forms. He certainly lives up to his promise to show that Romance morphology is "stranger than it seems" (217).
Brigitte L. M. Bauer's chapter (chapter ten, "Word Formation") also deals with morphology, and in particular, derivation, compounding, and other word-formation processes. It is well documented and balanced in its discussion of data and analyses, as well as problems in these areas.
The interesting pair of chapters on lexical issues by Arnulf Stefenelli (chapter eleven, "Lexical Stability") and Steven N. Dworkin (chapter twelve, "Lexical Change') examines the factors involved in lexical stability, semantic change, and "the relationship between stability and change in the history of words" (565).
Another pair of chapters deals with persistence and innovation: "Morphosyntactic Persistence" (chapter seven, by Giampaolo Salvi) in grammatical categories and constructions, and "Syntactic and Morphosyntactic Typology and Change" (chapter eight, by Adam Ledgeway) in the nominal group, the verbal group, and the sentence. Both chapters are informative, detailed, and accessible.
True to the spirit of the volume, John Charles Smith focuses on "Change and Continuity in Form-Function Relationships" (chapter six). Key to his analysis is the "principle of 'core-to-core' mapping, whereby some element, however abstract, of the original opposition survives in the new one" (269). This chapter is typical of Smith's lively style and lucid presentation.
Some of the most original chapters deal with topics not usually addressed in books of this nature: John Trumper' s fascinating "Slang and Jargons" (chapter fourteen), Christopher J. Pountain's enjoyable "Latin and the Structure of Written Romance" (chapter thirteen), Maria M. Manoliu's well-written "Pragmatic and Discourse Changes" (chapter nine), and Rosanna Somicola's rich reflections on "Romance Linguistics and Historical Linguistics: Reflections on Synchrony and Diachrony" (chapter one).
This book is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Cremona (1922-2003), the first Lecturer in Romance Philology at the University of Cambridge (1955-1989). Cremona was an inspiring teacher and respected scholar whose legacy is felt throughout Britain where the "Cremona style," which insists on "a thorough acquaintance with linguistic theory, and ... mastery of the kind of comparative and historical data which can be gleaned abundantly from Romance languages" (xxii), is still followed. Thanks in large part to Cremona, Romance linguistics in Britain today is "buoyant and flourishing" (idem.).
The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages: Volume 1: Structures opens with the observation that this series "stands on the shoulders of giants" (xvii). I am certain that the noble thinkers of the past would be proud to have this series carry Oh their legacy.
Stony Brook University
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|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2011|
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