"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.
The author argues that inversion (exemplified by such clauses as "in the garden sat a rabbit") serves an information-packaging function, linking relatively unfamiliar and relatively familiar information in the discourse. An examination of over 1,700 naturally-occurring inversions shows that the preposed constituent in a felicitous inversion never represents newer information within the discourse than does the postposed constituent. Moreover, information that has not been explicitly evoked in the prior discourse but which isnonetheless inferable in context is found to have the same distribution in inversion as does explicitly evoked information; both are treated as familiar within the discourse. Furthermore, the main verb in an inversion is shown to be subject to a pragmatic constraint to the effect that it not represent new information within the discourse. By demonstrating a rigorous correlation between a well-defined type of giveness and constituent position within a particular syntactic construction, this study sheds light on the complex relationship between information status and word order. This detailed study of discourse-functional constraints on the use of a marked syntactic construction, it will be of interest to researchers in both syntax and discourse.