"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 major point made in this book is that the philosophical position called 'essentialism' engenders a very unrewarding set of beliefs. These beliefs are reflected in how people view language and in all the possible walks of life which involve the use of language. A critical stance toward philosophical essentialism is the idea which permeates and thus unites all the eight dialogues in the book.
After a short introductory dialogue (1) concerning the use of incomprehensible language, the book treats the following issues: (2) the importance of philosophical knowledge both for the professional linguist and for the average language user; (3) the importance that language users attribute to words; (4) the relationship between cognitive linguistics and non-essentialism (including a discussion of imprecision, creativity, fuzziness, metaphor); (5) the omni-presence of misunderstanding; (6) conflict (including a discussion of intolerance, dogmatism, infallability, conceit, authoritarian argumentation); (7) the political correctness debate; and (8) ways in which essentialism can be counteracted (including encouragement of a tolerant attitude to language use and of new coinages). This book is intended primarily for undergraduate and graduate students of linguistics; but, given the informal style and the main claims of the book, which go significantly beyond linguistics, it may appeal to a much broader audience.