"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.
"According to Yang, many of today's irregular verbs are historical survivors of what were once systematic rules ... By neglecting this historical evidence Pinker mistakenly supposes that the irregular cases have to be memorized on a case-by-case basis, whereas according to Yang what has to be memorized is which rule applies. Yang strengthens his argument by bringing in evidence from other languages. Yang argues that these irregular patterns are rule-based and that the child's task is not to memorize plurals on a word-by-word basis, but to figure out which rule applies, to which set the noun belongs. If Yang is right, and I think he is, then Pinker's irregulars are not illustrations of the words-and-rules thesis, but the less-general-rules-and-more-general-rules thesis."
--New York Review of Books