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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: Usage-based vs. rule-based learning: the acquisition of word order in <i>wh</i>-questions in English and Norwegian
Author: Marit Westergaard
Institution: Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics, U Tromsø
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Norwegian Bokmål
Abstract: This paper discusses different approaches to language acquisition in relation to children's acquisition of word order in wh-questions in English and Norwegian. While generative models assert that children set major word order parameters and thus acquire a rule of subject–auxiliary inversion or generalized verb second (V2) at an early stage, some constructivist work argues that English-speaking children are simply reproducing frequent wh-word+auxiliary combinations in the input. The paper questions both approaches, re-evaluates some previous work, and provides some further data, concluding that the acquisition of wh-questions must be the result of a rule-based process. Based on variation in adult grammars, a cue-based model to language acquisition is presented, according to which children are sensitive to minor cues in the input, called micro-cues. V2 is not considered to be one major parameter, but several smaller-scale cues, which are responsible for children's lack of syntactic (over-)generalization in the acquisition process.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Journal of Child Language Vol. 36, Issue 5, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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