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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?

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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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Academic Paper


Title: Effects of Language Experience: Neural commitment to language-specific auditory patterns
Paper URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6WNP-4FXWWRF-1/2/7eb274e5050116db78057e73548d9129
Author: Yang Zhang
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.slhs.umn.edu/people/profile.php?UID=zhang470
Institution: University of Minnesota
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Cognitive Science; Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
Japanese
Abstract: Linguistic experience alters an individual's perception of speech. We here provide evidence of the effects of language experience at the neural level from two magnetoencephalography (MEG) studies that compare adult American and Japanese listeners' phonetic processing. The experimental stimuli were American English /ra/ and /la/ syllables, phonemic in English but not in Japanese. In Experiment 1, the control stimuli were /ba/ and /wa/ syllables, phonemic in both languages; in Experiment 2, they were non-speech replicas of /ra/ and /la/. The behavioral and neuromagnetic results showed that Japanese listeners were less sensitive to the phonemic /r-l/ difference than American listeners. Furthermore, processing non-native speech sounds recruited significantly greater brain resources in both hemispheres and required a significantly longer period of brain activation in two regions, the superior temporal area and the inferior parietal area. The control stimuli showed no significant differences except that the duration effect in the superior temporal cortex also applied to the non-speech replicas. We argue that early exposure to a particular language produces a "neural commitment" to the acoustic properties of that language and that this neural commitment interferes with foreign language processing, making it less efficient.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Zhang, Y., Kuhl, P. K., Imada, T., Kotani, M. & Tohkura, Y. (2005). Effects of language experience: neural commitment to language-specific auditory patterns. Neuroimage. Vol. 26, No. 3, 703-720.
URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6WNP-4FXWWRF-1/2/7eb274e5050116db78057e73548d9129


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