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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?

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: Myths and the prehistory of grammars
Author: David W Lightfoot
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Georgetown University
Linguistic Field: Syntax
Abstract: Only a small number of the world's languages have any kind of recorded history over more than a few generations, and in no case do records go back more than a few thousand years. From some perspectives, this doesn't matter. There are plenty of grammars to write and plenty of changes to describe accurately and then to explain in these recorded histories. Explanations for structural changes may be grounded in grammatical theory, and careful examination of historical changes, where the goal is explanation for how and why they happened, sometimes leads to innovations in grammatical theory, illuminating the nature of grammatical categories or the conditions for movement operations, for example. That has been the focus of some work on language change and data from changes have been used to argue for claims not only about grammatical theory but also about language acquisition, that children learn only from simple structures (DEGREE-0 COMPLEX) and that acquisition is cue-based (Lightfoot 1991, 1999). That is not to say, of course, that these propositions could not have been based on other kinds of data, but the fact is that they were based on analyses of historical change. From analyses of historical changes, we have learned things about the nature of the language faculty and about how it develops in children, unhampered by the limited inventory of changes.


This article appears in Journal of Linguistics Vol. 38, Issue 1, which you can read on Cambridge's site .

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