"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
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.
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.
The grocer's apostrophe: popular prescriptivism in the 21st century
'“Some shops use an apostrophe, wrongly, to indicate an plural (‘pea's’), but will generally omit the apostrophe when one is actually required (‘new seasons asparagus’), a phenomenon sometimes referred to as the greengrocer's (or grocer's) apostrophe. Try to avoid this.” (Marsh & Hodsdon (eds), 2008: 5)
In this article, I shall examine a range of evidence from printed and web-based sources to gauge the extent of interest in punctuation, and the kinds of discourse employed in discussion of these matters. I shall also compare this with the comparative lack of attention paid to punctuation by 18th-century ‘prescriptivists’. I shall also consider why prescriptivism has returned with such a vengeance in the 21st century, and why punctuation is a focus of attention.