"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.
The Lexical Reanalysis of N-Words and the Loss of Negative Concord in Standard English
The loss of NC has long been attributed to external factors. This study
readdresses this issue and provides evidence for the failure of certain
external factors to account for the observed decline and ultimate
disappearance of NC in Standard English. A detailed study of negation in
Late Middle and Early Modern English reveals that the process of decline of
NC was a case of a natural change, preceded by a period of variation.
Variation existed not only on the level of the speech community as a whole
but also within individual speakers (contra Lightfoot 1991). A close study
of n-indefinites in negative contexts and their ultimate replacement with
NPIs in a number of grammatical environments shows that the decline of NC
follows the same pattern across contexts in a form of PARALLEL CURVATURE,
which indicates that the loss of NC is a natural process. This study
reveals that the decline takes place at the same rate in all observed
contexts, something consistent with Kroch’s Constant Rate Effect. A CONTEXT
CONSTANCY EFFECT is obtained across all contexts indicating that the loss
of NC is triggered by a change in a single underlying parameter setting.
Accordingly, a theory-internal explanation is suggested. N-words underwent
a lexical reanalysis whereby they acquired a new grammatical feature [+Neg]
and were thus reinterpreted as negative quantifiers, rather than NPIs. This
lexical reanalysis was triggered by the ambiguous status of n-words between
[±Neg] and thus between single and double negative meanings. This change is
treated as a case of parameter resetting as this lexical reanalysis
affected a whole set of lexical items and can thus economically account for
the different observed surface changes.