79 of 85 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Overall, Ms. Posner gives a broad but shallow overview of how she believes Latin evolved into the Romance languages during the middle ages. Nonetheless, I found several obvious mistakes, which lead me to believe that she had some basic knowledge of some of the languages she used to illustrate her research efforts but not any substantial knowledge in all of the Romance languages as the title might allude. In my opinion, she spends too much time and effort baffling the reader with highly technical, linguistic jargon in order to explain simple linguistic idiosyncrasies, but most of her explanations are quite shallow and inconclusive. In many of her examples, she jumps from point to point without ever convincingly defending her position on why certain changes happened. She just states some examples and then goes on to something else hoping the reader will figure it out. Then, after she has confused the reader with highly technical linguistic frases just to explain a specific sound or spelling, she makes references to other parts of her book, which is difficult to navigate through, desperately trying to divert the reader's attention away from the obvious - that she did not support her theories with chronological evidence from old texts as is done in other comparative linguistic books.
I noted numerous mistakes in spellings and grammer where she was defending a theory from a change in Latin to a word in Spanish, (i.e. "guadañar," should have been "ganar," rather than converting "guadagnare" from Italian; and "guarnir," also from Italian but not Spanish should be "guarnecer"; and "dormió" is instead "durmió") Galician ("antes de chegarem" rather than "...chegaren"), Portuguese (future subjunctive is not exactly the same as the personal infinitive; "fêz" should be "fez"), and Italian ("Lo si compra" should be "Se lo compra" -"si" changes to "se" before "lo", "la", "li" "le" & "ne"; "Non mi si ascolta" is never said. What is said is "Non mi ascolta nessuno.).
In addition, her comments about the Portuguese understanding Spanish but not reciprocally is obvious in that given the same or a similar word, Portuguese is truncated and/or nasalized (besides the overwhelming "sh" and "zh" sounds of which the continental Portuguese pride themselves) making it difficult for the Spanish (and might I add the Brazilians) to decipher. She states that there is a long-standing history of animosity between the two countries going back to the date of Portugal's last independence from Spain 1580-1643 (which was really 1580-1640).
In addition, Ms Posner stated that "there was little reliable data to support the existence of Philippine Spanish." Well, she obviously doesn't know her Philippino/Spanish history nor any of the languages and dialects of the Philippines. Spain ruled the Philippines for over 350 years, and there are many hundreds of Spanish words incorporated in Tagalog and several of the other Austronesian languages spoken in the Philippines. Furthermore, there does exist a Spanish Creole dialect known as "Chavacano" which was born out of 18th century Spanish. It does not belong to the Austronesian family of languages; however, its lexicon is Spanish but its syntax is similar to that of other Philippine languages. Chavacano is spoken in Zamboanga, Basilan, Cavite, Ternate, and Ermita (Manila).
She was ignorant in her remarks that Philippino was just a "relexified Portuguese Creole" when Portugal had no linguistic influence whatsoever in the Philippines, and there aren't any similarities between Tagalog or any other Philippine dialect/language and Portuguese other than what they have in common with Spanish.
I was hoping she would have explained the nasalization of Portuguese better than saying it was probably due to Celtic influence. Portuguese was born in the late 12th-13th centuries (long after the Celts were Romanized) out of Galician, which is directly linked to Celtic, and there is no nasalization in that language whatsoever. Furthermore, 15-16th century Spanish has evidence of nasalization (the original Don Quixote has lots of examples) which is still prevalent in Andalusian Spanish (Moorish influence?). In all words ending in "n", Andalusian and Caribbean Spanish nasalize the final "n" (though not lexical) much more than any other dialect, which would lead me to believe that the pronunciation of the letter "n" as "ng" (or represented by "~" over vowels in Portuguese) has an influence other than Celtic. What caused the omission of the intervocalic "l" and "n" in Portuguese and Galician?
She never convincingly explained the conversation of "ç, z, and c" to be pronounced as Þ (theta) in Spain in the 16-17th centuries. Andalusia and Galicia resisted until the 19/20th century, and Catalá, Aragonès, and Asturianu-Lleones never adopted it. The folklore has always been that King Felipe II (1527-1598) had a lisp and forced his subjects to imitate him. However, reality is something different because Portugal never adopted such a lisp when he ruled there, but instead, the Portuguese pronounce the final "s" like "sh", and "z" and "c" have the same sounds as in English.
Her knowledge of Latin, French, and some of the obscure/dead dialects is commendable. However, her research efforts thorough enough and arguments not convincing despite the fact that such material on Romance dialects comparison (especially the ones she picked) is hard to find. It is difficult to find and read credible material in which the author truly has a profound and substantiated knowledge basis to share with his or her readers on all Romance dialects/languages and their evolution from Latin, and Ms. Rebecca Posner did not impress me.