Books from 2009 Part I

I did pretty decent for reading in 09. I started reading many, many books and finished about half as many – though not necessarily the ones I started. A few of them were from 2008. This year has been the year of Greek linguistics for me. It was an enjoyable read. The books below have either been finished are very nearly finished. So in no particular order, here are my linguistics books from 2009.

General Linguistics:

The Noun Phrase (Oxford Studies in Typology and Linguistic Theory)by Jan Rijkoff

This was a slower, but illuminating book. Rijkoff works through the noun phrase structure of some fifty languages drawing correlations and making predictions. Highly relevant to any language study.

The Handbook of Linguistics (Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics)by Aronoff

The Blackwell Handbooks series is consistently excellent (with the volume on Contemporary Syntax Theory being slightly limited). This particular volume in general does a very nice job surveying various fields within linguistics. The weakest chapter is Van Valin’s on Functional theories of Grammar. I read that chapter just after reading chapter one of his Syntax (below), which is a far, far better discussion & survey than what he provides here. D. A. Cruse’s chapters, “The Lexicon,” being a rich delight. 

Syntax: Structure, Meaning, and Function (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics)by Van Valin & LaPolla

Comprehensive & excellent. Role & Reference Grammar is probably the best linguistic framework out there. The only thing that it lacks (currently) is it’s dealing with middle voice systems (but that’s changing).

The Parameter of Aspect (Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy)by Carlota Smith (2nd time through – read it last year too!)

Hands down the best book on Aspect.

Noun Phrase in the Generative Perspective (Studies in Generative Grammar)by Stavrou, Alexiadou, & Haegeman

Too much Chomsky, but there’s still plenty of insights here. The consistent reference to Modern Greek is nice too (note the author’s names). Modern Greek has an impressive and growing number of linguists doing some great work.

Configuring Topic and Focus in Russian (Center for the Study of Language and Information – Lecture Notes)by King

This is a unique book in that is looks at the same data from two very different linguistic frameworks and provides helpful discussions of both. It lessens the divide between competing theories by showing how they account of the same data. It’s also a great discussion of a so-called “free word order” language and has many syntactic & pragmatic similarities to Greek.

Lexical-Functional Syntax (Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics)by Bresnan

Strong on syntax. Strong on typology. Somewhat weak on information structure.

Information Structure: The Syntax-Discourse Interface (Oxford Surveys in Syntax & Morphology)by Erteschik-Shir

A helpful survey of information structure across linguistic theories. Lambrecht is taken as a sort of default base for everything else – rightly so.

Information Structure and Sentence Form: Topic, Focus, and the Mental Representations of Discourse Referents (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics)by Lambrecht

The definitive book on information structure. Nothing has yet replaced it.

Optimality Theoretic Syntaxedited by Sells

Great book looking at how languages do the same things differently. The chapter on word order in Catalan is particularly interesting.

Current Advances in Semantic Theory (Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, Series IV: Current Issues in Linguistic Theory)edited by Stamenov

eh…I wasn’t too interested in most of the chapters in this book. It got marked “completed” because of that, even though I only read two or three.

Exploring the Syntax-Semantics Interfaceby Van Valin

Still working on this one. It’s not terribly different than his Syntax. But it’s also shorter. Van Valin takes Rijkoff’s approach to the noun phrase and adapts it in a few ways to deal with other issues (Stephanie Bakker should have taken note in her The Noun Phrase in Ancient Greek).