"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.
Is human language an evolutionary adaptation? Is linguistics a natural science? These questions have bedeviled philosophers, philologists and linguists from Plato through Chomsky. Prof. Givón suggests that the answers fall naturally within an integrated study of living organisms.
In this new work, Givón points out that language operates between aspects of both complex biological design and adaptive behavior. As in biology, the whole is an adaptive compromise to competing demands. Variation is the indispensable tool of learning, change and adaptation. The contrast between innateness and input-driven emergence is an interaction between genetically-coded and behaviorally-coded experience.
In enlarging the cross-disciplinary domain, the book examines the parallels between language evolution and language diachrony. Sociality, cooperation and communication are shown to be rooted in a common evolutionary source, the kin-based hunting-and-gathering society of intimates.
The book pays homage to the late Joseph Greenberg and his visionary integration of functional motivation, typological diversity and diachronic change.
Table of Contents
Language as a bio-adaptation 1•29
The bounds of generativity and the adaptive basis of variation 31•69
The demise of competence 71•122
Human language as an evolutionary product 123•162
An evolutionary account of language processing rates 163•184
The diachronic foundations of language universals 205•224
The neuro-cognitive interpretation of ‘context’ 225•261
The grammar of perspective in narrative fiction 263•301
The society of intimates 303•333
On the ontology of academic negativity 335•345
Epilogue: Joseph Greenberg as a theorist 347•355