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Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"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

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What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

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.

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Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

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.

Book Information

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Title: The Prism of Grammar
Subtitle: How Child Language Illuminates Humanism
Written By: Thomas Roeper
URL: http://mitpress.mit.edu/0262182521
Series Title: A Bradford Book

Every sentence we hear is instantly analyzed by an inner grammar; just as a
prism refracts a beam of light, grammar divides a stream of sound, linking
diverse strings of information to different domains of mind--memory,
vision, emotions, intentions. In The Prism of Grammar, Tom Roeper brings
the abstract principles behind modern grammar to life by exploring the
astonishing intricacies of child language. Adult expressions provide
endless puzzles for the child to solve. The individual child's solutions
("Don't uncomfortable the cat" is one example) may amuse adults but they
also reveal the complexity of language and the challenges of mastering it.
The tiniest utterances, says Roeper, reflect the whole mind and engage the
child's free will and sense of dignity.

He offers numerous and novel "explorations" - many at the cutting edge of
current work - that anyone can try, even in conversation around the dinner
table. They elicit how the child confronts "recursion"- the heartbeat of
grammar- through endless possessives ("John's mother's friend's car"),
mysterious plurals, contradictory adjectives, the marvels of ellipsis, and
the deep obscurity of reference ("there it is, right here"). They are not
tests of skill; they are tools for discovery and delight, not diagnosis.
Each chapter on acquisition begins with a commonsense look at how
structures work - moving from the simple to the complex - and then turns to
the literary and human dimensions of grammar. One important human dimension
is the role of dialect in society and in the lives of children. Roeper
devotes three chapters to the structure of African-American English and the
challenge of responding to linguistic prejudice.

Written in a lively style, accessible and gently provocative, The Prism of
Grammar is for parents and teachers as well as students - for everyone who
wants to understand how children gain and use language - and anyone
interested in the social, philosophical, and ethical implications of how we
see the growing mind emerge.

Publication Year: 2007
Publisher: MIT Press
Review: Read the review
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Syntax
Language Acquisition
Subject Language(s): English
Issue: All announcements sent out by The LINGUIST List are emailed to our subscribers and archived with the Library of Congress.
Click here to see the original emailed issue.

Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0262182521
ISBN-13: 9780262182522
Pages: 355
Prices: U.S. $ 37.95