"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.
Small words, big effects?
Subjective versus objective causal connectives in discourse processing
Coherence relations and their linguistic markers play a significant role in the study of discourse processing and comprehension. A number of studies have shown that the presence of coherence markers, such as connectives, in a text facilitates discourse processing and representation. The current study focuses on causal connectives, and investigates how the information that is encoded in their processing instructions affects online discourse processing. More specifically, it investigates whether these connectives provide cues about the fine-grained distinction between subjective and objective causal relations. This question is relevant for two reasons. First, in many languages of the world causal connectives seem to specialize in either subjective or objective causal relations. And second, subjective causal relations are assumed to be more complex than objective causal relations. In order to investigate this issue, this study includes a series of eye-tracking experiments involving both backward (want versus omdat) and forward (dus versus daarom) Dutch causal connectives. The results reveal that causal connectives do more than just inform the reader that a causal coherence relation needs to be constructed between two pieces of text. They also provide information about the relative degree of subjectivity of that causal relation, which immediately affects online discourse processing. In addition, the results shed a new light on the source of the processing complexity of subjective causal relations.