"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.
Definitions: Implications for Syntax, Semantics, and the Language of Thought
The answer to the question "How can we understand and use a definition?" provides new constraints on natural language and on the internal language in which meaning is mentally represented. Most syntax takes the sentence as the basic unit for well-formedness, but definitions force us to focus on words and phrases, and hence to focus on compositional syntax in parallel with compositional semantics. This study examines both dictionary definitions and definitions from textbooks from the points of view of their syntax, semantics, and use for learning word meaning. The tools used throughout are Principles and Parameters syntax, Relevance theoretic pragmatics, Model theoretic semantics, and the formal theory of definitions. The analyses argue that because phrases can be understood in isolation, some standard syntactic analyses must be modified. 'NP movement' has to be reanalysed as transmission of theta roles. These ideas are then applied to a variety of adjectives which take propositional complements. The final chapter argues that for definitions to be understood, the syntax of the Language of Thought must be close to that of Natural Language in specifiable ways. For example, semantic types must be common to the two languages. The book will be of interest to linguists concerned with syntax, semantics and pragmatics; philosophers of mind and of language; and lexicographers.