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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.


Academic Paper


Title: Neural Signatures of Phonetic Learning in Adulthood: A magnetoencephalography study
Paper URL: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.01.028
Author: Yang Zhang
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.slhs.umn.edu/people/profile.php?UID=zhang470
Institution: University of Minnesota
Author: Paul Iverson
Institution: University College London
Author: John Pruitt
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Cognitive Science; Language Acquisition; Neurolinguistics; Phonetics; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
Japanese
Abstract: The present study used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to examine perceptual learning of American English /r/ and /l/ categories by Japanese adults who had limited English exposure. A training software program was developed based on the principles of infant phonetic learning, featuring systematic acoustic exaggeration, multi-talker variability, visible articulation, and adaptive listening. The program was designed to help Japanese listeners utilize an acoustic dimension relevant for phonemic categorization of /r-l/ in English. Although training did not produce native-like phonetic boundary along the /r-l/ synthetic continuum in the second language learners, success was seen in highly significant identification improvement over twelve training sessions and transfer of learning to novel stimuli. Consistent with behavioral results, pre-post MEG measures showed not only enhanced neural sensitivity to the /r-l/ distinction in the left-hemisphere mismatch field (MMF) response but also bilateral decreases in equivalent current dipole (ECD) cluster and duration measures for stimulus coding in the inferior parietal region. The learning-induced increases in neural sensitivity and efficiency were also found in distributed source analysis using Minimum Current Estimates (MCE). Furthermore, the pre-post changes exhibited significant brain-behavior correlations between speech discrimination scores and MMF amplitudes as well as between the behavioral scores and ECD measures of neural efficiency. Together, the data provide corroborating evidence that substantial neural plasticity for second-language learning in adulthood can be induced with adaptive and enriched linguistic exposure. Like the MMF, the ECD cluster and duration measures are sensitive neural markers of phonetic learning.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Zhang, Y., Kuhl, P. K., Imada, T., Iverson, P., Pruitt, J., Stevens, E., Kawakatsu, M., Tohkura, Y. & Nemoto, I. (In press). Neural signatures of phonetic learning in adulthood: A magnetoencephalography study. Neuroimage.
URL: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.01.028


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