Franc Marusic and Rok Zaucer, Eds.: Studies in Formal Slavic Linguistics

By Migdalski, Krzysztof | Journal of Slavic Linguistics, Summer-Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Franc Marusic and Rok Zaucer, Eds.: Studies in Formal Slavic Linguistics


Migdalski, Krzysztof, Journal of Slavic Linguistics


Franc Marusic and Rok Zaucer, eds. Studies in formal Slavic linguistics. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2008. pp. 356.

Studies in formal Slavic linguistics, edited by Franc Marusic and Rok Zaucer, is a collection of papers presented at the Formal description of Slavic languages conference held at the University of Nova Gorica in Slovenia in December 2006. The original idea of the conference, which was first organized by Gerhild Zybatow, Uwe Junghanns, and their collaborators at the University of Leipzig in 1995, was to provide a venue for linguists interested in the formal analysis of Slavic phonology, syntax, semantics, information structure, and computational linguistics. Chomsky's Principles and Parameters Framework has always been in the center of attention for the majority of the participants, but alternative formal approaches (for instance, GPSG, HPSG, LFG) have been considered as well. In this way FDSL meetings attract a somewhat broader spectrum of topics than the Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics conference organized annually in the U.S.

The first six FDSL meetings were hosted biennially in turns by Leipzig and Potsdam Universities. The event in Nova Gorica was the first FDSL conference to diverge from this pattern, and was accordingly named FDSL 6.5 to mark its "stopover" status. As was emphasized in the call for papers, it was also the first meeting devoted to formal analyses of all the Slavic languages held in a Slavic-speaking country. There had been a few formal Slavic linguistic conferences organized in Central and Eastern Europe previously, yet they were either restricted to a subgroup of Slavic languages (such as Formal approaches to South Slavic and Balkan languages (FASSBL) held in Plovdiv and Sofia since the mid-1990s) or, in the case of the Generative linguistics in Poland (GLiP) meetings organized since 1999 by the University of Warsaw, they were aimed at Polish generative linguists or linguists working on Polish.

Thirty-one talks, including four invited lectures, were presented at the Nova Gorica conference. Subsequently, twenty papers were submitted to the proceedings, and each of them was reviewed by external referees. Eventually, nineteen papers appeared in the volume, as one contribution had been withdrawn. In this way the proceedings contain a smaller number of articles than the regular Leipzig/Potsdam FDSL publications. Apparently for this reason the editors decided not to maintain the traditional thematic division of the volume content into Phonetics and Phonology, Computational Linguistics, Psycholinguistics and Language Acquisition, Syntax, and Semantics. Instead, the papers are arranged alphabetically according to the authors' names.

The volume opens with a paper by one of the invited speakers, Zeljko Boskovic, entitled "On two types of negative constituents and negative concord'. As always, Boskovic's contribution is inspiring and provides an interesting analysis. It examines two types of negative constituents: ni- and negative concord items (i-NCIs). These constituents were previously investigated by Progovac (1994), who analyzed them in terms of A'-binding. Ni-NCIs, which require clause-mate negation, were argued to be subject to Principle A, and thus had to be A'-bound by negation in their governing category. Contrastively, i-NCIs, which do not tolerate clause-mate negation, were subject to Principle B, and hence had to be A'-free in their governing category. Boskovic points out that Progovac's proposal captures the relevant data neatly, but it faces problems when extended to other languages. Moreover, he shows that the analysis is challenged by empirical data related to reconstruction effects. Ultimately, he links the distinct distribution of these elements to overt movement to Spec, NegP, which is available to the ni-NCIs, but not to the i-NCIs. This restriction is morphologically motivated and supported by a similar behavior of NCIs in unrelated languages such as Norwegian and West Flemish. …

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