Book notices

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Mar 20 13:09:50 UTC 2006

Forwarded from Linguist-List

1. The acquisition of determiners in bilingual German-Italian and
German-French children Series Title: LINCOM Studies in Langauge
Acquisition 17 Published: 2006 Publisher: Lincom GmbH

Author: Tanja Kupisch, University of Hamburg

This study is concerned with the acquisition of determiners in bilingual
children acquiring German simultaneously with a Romance language
(French/Italian). It has two major concerns: (i) to shed more light on the
interplay between language influence and language dominance and (ii) to
examine the relation between forms and functions.

Bilingual data is especially suited for this purpose, as bilingual
children have been argued to dispose of two grammatical systems, while
having only one cognitive system. Thus, we may expect similarities in the
acquisition of functions but the acquisition of forms should mirror
language specific patterns. The analysis, which is based on a large sample
of bilingual data, indicates that things are far more complex. The
grammars of a bilingual child are in contact and influence each other.

Contrary to general belief, such influence may be of a positive nature,
anticipating syntactic acquisition in one language. It is further argued
that language dominance is not the only factor that determines language
influence. The book adopts the perspective of Chomskyan Universal grammar,
but it contains an empirical study of the acquisition of article
functions, discussing whether formal and functional acquisition interact
or represent two completely independent processes. The book provides a
comprehensive overview of relevant theoretical and empirical work and
contains numerous illustrative examples of small children's linguistic
capacities. For more details see our webshop:

2. Title: Aspects of Cameroon English usage
Subtitle: a lexical appraisal
Series Title: LINCOM Studies in English Linguistics 10
Published: 2006
Publisher: Lincom GmbH

Author: Jean-Paul Kouega, University of Yaounde I
Paperback: ISBN: 3895868779 Pages: 318 Price: Europe EURO 68

This study examines the innovative and creative development of lexis in
Cameroon English. English in Cameroon evolves in a foreign geographical
setting where its users are people of different cultures who speak several
other languages.

The broad corpus of the study consists of written texts such as official
and literary documents, and of spoken texts such as media programmes,
conversations and speeches. The narrow corpus, on the other hand, is made
up of a collection of new and adapted words which are widespread in the
variety. As for the informants, they are mature Cameroonians who are
holders of the GCE O' Level and higher diplomas; they can fully operate in
the English language and many of them actually make use of this language
in their profession.

The analysis reveals several interesting facts about Cameroon English.
First of all, there exist a great number of adapted lexical terms in the
English used in Cameroon, which is a common feature observed elsewhere in
the world in most places where several languages come into contact.
Secondly, the vast majority of new and adapted words in Cameroon English
come from two widespread languages, namely French, the co-official
language of the country, and Pidgin English, a popular non-ethnic lingua
franca.  Thirdly, while French donates words referring to government
institutions and procedural processes, Pidgin English contributes loans
for culture-specific domains such as traditional practices and foodstuffs.
Fourthly, of the various word formative processes observed in language,
the process of borrowing is by far the most productive in Cameroon
English.  Lastly, because Cameroonians already speak two or more languages
before they start schooling and because, while in school, they learn to
speak English exclusively from written materials - with their teachers
serving as models - the sound system of English in the country is greatly
modified:  RP phonemes are greatly simplified, and foreign sounds are
constantly used;  word-stress is often shifted to different syllables, and
tonal features are occasionally attached to certain words.

While some of these adapted terms do have English equivalents, many of
them refer to concepts and objects which are new to the English community.
There is therefore a need for educationists and language teachers in
particular, to adjust their syllabus so as to accommodate those adapted
terms whose English equivalents are unknown to Cameroonian users or are
hardly used by them. There is also a need for lexicographers to bring
together those terms which refer to new entities unknown to the English
community; these will constitute Cameroon's contribution to the
development of English as a world language. For more details see our

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