"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.
While it has long been taken for granted that context or background information plays a crucial role in reference assignment, there have been very few serious attempts to investigate exactly how they are used. This study provides an answer to the question through an extensive analysis of cases of bridging. The book demonstrates that when encountering a referring expression, the hearer is able to choose a set of contextual assumptions intended by the speaker in a principled way, out of all the assumptions possibly available to him. It claims more specifically that the use of context, as well as the assignment of referent, is governed by a single pragmatic principle, namely, the principle of relevance (Sperber & Wilson 1986/1995), which is also a single principle governing overall utterance interpretation. The explanatory power of the criterion based on the principle of relevance is tested against the two major, current alternatives - truth-based criteria and coherence-based criteria - using data elicited in a battery of referent assignment questionnaires. The results show clearly that the relevance-based criterion has more predictive power to handle a wider range of examples than any other existing criterion. As such, this work adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the insights of relevance theory.