"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.
Brevity in conversation is a window to the workings of the mind. This book brings it into prominence as both a multifaceted topic of deep philosophical importance and a phenomenon that serves as a testing ground for theories in linguistics, psycholinguistics, and computer modeling. Brevity is achieved in a variety of ways. Speakers use elliptical constructions and exploit salient features of the conversational environment in a process of pragmatic enrichment so as to pack as much as possible into a few words. They take account of what has already been said in the current and previous conversations, and tailor their words to what they know about the beliefs and personalities of the people they're talking to. Most of the time they do all this with no obvious mental effort.
The book, which brings together distinguished linguists, philosophers, and cognitive scientists, is the product of an interactive multidisciplinary research project that extended over four years. The questions dealt with concern how speakers secure understanding of what they mean when what they mean far outstrips the literal or compositional meanings of the sentences or sentence fragments that they use.
Brevity sheds new light on economy in discourse. It will appeal to linguists, philosophers, and psychologists at advanced undergraduate level and above.