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"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



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What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

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.


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Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

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.



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Dissertation Information


Title: Language, Politics and Identity: The Making of a Taiwanese Language Add Dissertation
Author: Loretta Tam Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://hku-hk.academia.edu/LorettaTam
Degree Awarded: Chinese University of Hong Kong , Department of Anthropology
Completed in:
2012
Linguistic Subfield(s): Anthropological Linguistics
Subject Language(s): Chinese, Min Nan
Language Family(ies): Sino-Tibetan
Director(s): Chee-Beng Tan

Abstract: This doctoral thesis looks into the government-led language revitalization campaign in Taiwan with special reference to the case of Hokkien, one of the “ben sheng” (local) vernaculars with Han Chinese roots, in terms of language rights, ethnogenesis, and cultural legitimacy. Tracing the rise and development of concepts such as cultural heritage, ethnic identity and democracy in the region, the focus is placed on the recent changes in Taiwan’s language ideology and the intricate emergence of Hokkien as one of the “national” languages and symbols apart from the official language i.e. Mandarin Chinese.


Against the backdrop where contesting discourses on language and culture discourses co-exist and crossbreed with each other, there are a number of closely-related issues that this thesis examines in particular: (1) the ways in which language choices are made and perceived in various contexts; (2) implications of such language choices as related to one’s cultural identities; (3) the role of language politics in self and group identification and ethnic classification in Taiwan; (4) the power dynamics in various socio-cultural spheres; and (5) the resulting competition of multiple speech groups in Taiwan for authenticity, legitimacy and superiority in the political arena by means of reconstruction and reinvention of ethnic languages and traditions.


The findings reveal that despite the practical relevance of Bakhtin’s theory of heteroglossia to Taiwan’s current ethnogenesis against the backdrop of multilingualism and multiculturalism, the political connections between the cultural plurality promoted by the government and the covert competition amongst various stakeholders are better understood in terms of Bourdieu’s theory of cultural reproduction and Foucault’s framework of power-knowledge. Language revitalization in Taiwan is thus an act of both empowerment and control, and a symbol of the mutual toleration and the cultural ambiguity that means to be used for contrasting with the old hegemonies’ conservatism by the current ruling power.