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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 Boundaries of Babel
Subtitle: The Brain and the Enigma of Impossible Languages
Written By: Andrea Moro
URL: http://mitpress.mit.edu/9780262134989
Series Title: Current Studies in Linguistics

In The Boundaries of Babel, Andrea Moro tells the story of an encounter
between two cultures: contemporary theoretical linguistics and the
cognitive neurosciences. The study of language within a biological context
has been ongoing for more than fifty years. The development of neuroimaging
technology offers new opportunities to enrich the "biolinguistic
perspective" and extend it beyond an abstract framework for inquiry. As a
leading theoretical linguist in the generative tradition and also a
cognitive scientist schooled in the new imaging technology, Moro is
uniquely equipped to explore this.

Moro examines what he calls the "hidden" revolution in contemporary
science: the discovery that the number of possible grammars is not infinite
and that their number is biologically limited. This radical but
little-discussed change in the way we look at language, he claims, will
require us to rethink not just the fundamentals of linguistics and
neurosciences but also our view of the human mind. Moro searches for
neurobiological correlates of "the boundaries of Babel"--the constraints on
the apparent chaotic variation in human languages--by using an original
experimental design based on artificial languages. He offers a critical
overview of some of the fundamental results from linguistics over the last
fifty years, in particular regarding syntax, then uses these essential
aspects of language to examine two neuroimaging experiments in which he
took part. He describes the two neuroimaging techniques used (positron
emission topography, or PET, and functional magnetic resonance imaging, or
fMRI), but makes it clear that techniques and machines do not provide
interesting data without a sound theoretical framework. Finally, he
discusses some speculative aspects of modern research in biolinguistics
regarding the impact of the linear structure of linguistics expression on
grammar, and more generally, some core aspects of language acquisition,
genetics, and evolution.

"Andrea Moro has gained a unique position in formulating and implementing
constructive approaches to… difficult and demanding tasks. He is able to
address them with a deep understanding of modern linguistics, a field to
which he has made a major contribution of his own, and mastery of the
relevant technology and its potential. His new book is a lucid introduction
to these exciting areas, superbly informed and imaginatively presented,
with intriguing implications well beyond biolinguistics... A rare
--Noam Chomsky, from the foreword

Publication Year: 2008
Publisher: MIT Press
Review: Read the review
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
Cognitive Science
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: 0262134985
ISBN-13: 9780262134989
Pages: 257
Prices: U.S. $ 35.00