"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.
Two-Year-Olds Use Primary Sentence Accent to Learn New Words
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Language Acquisition; Phonology
German children aged 2;1 heard a sentence containing a nonce noun and a nonce verb (Der Feks miekt). Either the noun or the verb was prosodically highlighted by increased pitch, duration and loudness. Independently, either the object or the action in the ongoing referential scene was the new element in the situation. Children learned the nonce noun only when it was both highlighted prosodically and the object in the scene was referentially new. They did not learn the nonce verb in any condition. These results suggest that from early in linguistic development, young children understand that prosodic salience in a sentence indicates referential newness.