"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.
This study examines the mutual intelligibility between all 225 pairs of 15
Chinese dialects, in two main branches, i.e., six Mandarin dialects and
nine non-Mandarin (Southern) dialects. The dialects (often distinct
languages by western standards) differ in the richness of their lexical
tone inventories, ranging between four (in most Mandarin dialects) to as
many as nine (in Guangzhou/Cantonese). Judgment (how well do listeners
think they understand the speaker?) and functional (how well do speakers
actually understand the speaker?) intelligibility tests were used. A
methodological question was whether (fast and efficient) judgment testing
may serve as a viable substitute for (laborious) functional intelligibility
testing. Dialect fragments were also monotonized in order to estimate the
importance of pitch variation for intelligibility in tone languages. Also,
a large number of objective linguistic distance measures were collected,
either copied from the literature or computed by the author on existing
language resources. A systematic attempt is made to determine how well the
judgment and functional intelligibility scores can be predicted from each
other and from (combinations of) objective linguistics distance measures.
Mutual intelligibility testing affords a single dimension along which the
degree of difference between language varieties can be expressed. The
hypothesis is tested that the agglomeration trees generated from mutual
intelligibility scores correlate strongly with linguistic taxonomies
expressing family relationships among languages and dialects.
This study should be of interest to linguists, more specifically
dialectologists, dialectometrists and phoneticians.