"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.
This is the second of the two closely linked but self-contained volumes that
comprise James Hurford's acclaimed exploration of the biological evolution of
language. In the first book he looked at the evolutionary origins of meaning,
ending as our distant ancestors were about to step over the brink to modern
language. He now considers how that step might have been taken and the
consequences it undoubtedly had.
The capacity for language lets human beings formulate and express an
unlimited range of propositions about real or fictitious worlds. It allows them
to communicate these propositions, often overlaid with layers of nuance and
irony, to other humans who can then interpret and respond to them. These
processes take place at breakneck speed. Using a language means learning
a vast number of arbitrary connections between forms and meanings and
rules on how to manipulate them, both of which a normal human child can do
in its first few years of life. James Hurford looks at how this miracle came
The book is divided into three parts. In the first the author surveys the
syntactic structures evident in the communicative behaviour of animals, such
as birds and whales, and discusses how vocabularies of learned symbols
could have evolved and the effects this had on human thought. In the second
he considers how far the evolution of grammar depended on biological or
cultural factors. In the third and final part he describes the probable route by
which the human language faculty and languages evolved from simple
beginnings to their present complex state.