SKY Journal of Linguistics 24 (2011), x–x
Metslang, Helle (ed.). (2009)
Estonian in Typological Perspective
,Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung (Language Typology andUniversals). Volume 62, issue 1/2. Berlin: Akademie Verlag. Pp. 164.Reviewed by Arnaud FournetAs the title indicates, the work under review is a thematic issue of the journal
Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung
) dedicated tothe Estonian language. To some extent it has intermediary features betweena journal and a book. It focuses on a particular language but remainsstructured like a journal, with no numbered chapters and papers havingtheir own references after their conclusions. A first impression about thecopy in hand is that the papers could have been presented in a different –and possibly more logical – order, for example: phonology, then parts of speech and morphology, then grammatical issues, etc. No apparentrationale for the order of the papers can be found.Rather conventionally the journal comprises a preface and eightarticles, for a total of 164 pages, the table of contents being on the fourthcover. The preface shortly describes Estonian and the history of thelanguage, and offers a summary of each paper. Generally speaking, thepapers are both descriptive of Estonian and address specific issues at thesame time. There are numerous examples, some of them being data takenfrom actual sources. Most of the papers are data-oriented and not theory-oriented, which makes them definitely informative about Estonian. It is notabsolutely necessary to be familiar with Estonian prior to reading thepapers but not infrequently it is not clear how words in examples should beparsed. Extra lines with a detailed parsing would have been welcome.Sometimes one wishes descriptions were more detailed with more data sothat issues and relevant data could be more easily and more thoroughlyunderstood. Maybe this situation is due to space limitations and guidelines,each paper having approximately 20 pages at most. On the whole, thepapers provide an extensive overview of Estonian both as a language per seand in comparison with Finnish, its closest relative, and (Indo-)Europeanlanguages, which are used as a kind of absolute and/or areal reference.Although published in a journal expected to focus on typology, severalpapers do not have a truly typological content but an areal comparativeperspective or even amount to describing Estonian on a synchronic basis.