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Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"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?

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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

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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.


Academic Paper


Title: The evolution of auditory dispersion in bidirectional constraint grammars
Author: Paul Boersma
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Amsterdam
Author: Silke Hamann
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.fon.hum.uva.nl/silke/
Institution: University of Amsterdam
Linguistic Field: Phonetics
Abstract: This paper reconciles the standpoint that language users do not aim at improving their sound systems with the observation that languages seem to improve their sound systems. If learners optimise their perception by gradually ranking their cue constraints, and reuse the resulting ranking in production, they automatically introduce a prototype effect, which can be counteracted by an articulatory effect. If the two effects are of unequal size, the learner will end up with a sound system auditorily different from that of her language environment. Computer simulations of sibilant inventories show that, independently of the initial auditory sound system, a stable equilibrium is reached within a small number of generations. In this stable state, the dispersion of the sibilants of the language strikes an optimal balance between articulatory ease and auditory contrast. Crucially, these results are derived within a model without any goal-oriented elements such as dispersion constraints.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Phonology Vol. 25, Issue 2, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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