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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

   

Title: The Evolution of Morphology
Written By: Andrew D. Carstairs-McCarthy
URL: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199202683.do
Series Title: Studies in the Evolution of Language
Description:

This book considers the evolution of the grammatical structure of words in
the more general contexts of human evolution and the origins of language.
The consensus in many fields is that language is well designed for its
purpose, and became so either through natural selection or by virtue of
non-biological constraints on how language must be structured. Andrew
Carstairs-McCarthy argues that in certain crucial respects language is not
optimally designed. This can be seen, he suggests, in the existence of not
one but two kinds of grammatical organization - syntax and morphology - and
in the morphological and morpho-phonological complexity which leads to
numerous departures from the one-form-one-meaning principle.

Having discussed the issue of good and bad design in a wider biological
context, the author shows that conventional explanations for the nature of
morphology do not work. Its poor design features arose, he argues, from two
characteristics present when the ancestors of modern humans had a
vocabulary but no grammar. One of these was a synonymy-avoidance
expectation, while the other was an articulatory and phonological apparatus
that encouraged the development of new synonyms. Morphology developed in
response to these conflicting pressures.

In this stimulating and carefully argued account Professor McCarthy offers
a powerful challenge to conventional views of the relationship between
syntax and morphology, to the adaptationist view of language evolution, and
to the notion that language in some way reflects 'laws of form'. This
fundamental contribution to understanding the nature and evolution of
language will be of wide interest to linguists of all theoretical
persuasions as well as to scholars in cognitive science and anthropology.

Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Review: Not available for review. If you would like to review a book on The LINGUIST List, please login to view the AFR list.
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Morphology
Cognitive Science
Anthropological Linguistics
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.

Versions:
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0199299781
ISBN-13: 9780199299782
Pages: 272
Prices: U.K. £ 65.00

 
 
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0199202680
ISBN-13: 9780199202683
Pages: 272
Prices: U.K. £ 22.99