"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more
To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.
This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.
A Semantics for the English Existential Construction
The philosopher P.H. Strawson observed that there are two ways to characterize the semantics of existence statements: as existentially quantified propositions involving particular individuals, or as subject-predicate propositions in which the subject is a property, or description of an individual, the predicate affirming the instantiation of this property or description. This work presents a new semantics for English existential-there sentences which, unlike most previous analyses of the construction, advocates the latter of these two characterizations of existence statements. The interpretation for the construction is developed in both a property-theoretic semantics and a version of File Change Semantics, and is accompanied by a complete syntactic analysis. Perhaps the most significant consequence of the proposal is that the well-known restriction on the sorts of noun phrases that can appear in existential sentences (the so-called definiteness effect) cannot be treated as a unified phenomenon; rather, it must result from a combination of semantic and pragmatic factors. This nonunified account is argued to be more successful than previous treatments at handling certain problematic data, at capturing similarities between existential and copular sentences, and at predicting cross-linguistic variation in the definiteness effect.