"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 interdisciplinary linguistic attractor model portrays language processing as linked sequences of fractal sets, and examines the changing dynamics of such sets for individuals as well as the speech community they comprise. Its motivation stems from human anatomic constraints and several artificial neural network approaches. It uses general computation theory to: 1) demonstrate the capacity of Cantor-like fractal sets to perform as Turing Machines; 2) better distinguish between models that simply match outputs (emulation) and models that match both outputs and internal dynamics (simulation); and 3) relate language processing to essential computation steps executed in parallel. Measure and information theory highlight the key variables driving linguistic dynamics, while catastrophe and game theory help predict the possible topologies of language change. It introduces techniques to isolate and measure attractors, and to interpret their stability and relative content within a system. Important results include the capability to distinguish the sequence of related sound changes, and to make point-to-point comparisons of different texts using common metrics. Other techniques allow quantifiable ambiguity landscapes illustrating the forces that propel different languages in different directions.