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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: Phonemically contrastive fricatives in Old English?
Author: Donka Minkova
Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics
Subject Language: English, Old
Abstract: The article addresses two recent hypotheses regarding the history of the English fricatives /f/???/v/, /s/???/z/, /??/???/??/: the hypothesis that phonemicization of the voicing contrast occurred in Old English, and the related claim that the reanalysis of the contrast was due to Celtic substratum influence. A re-examination of the arguments for early phonemicization leads to alternative interpretations of the observed voicing ???irregularities??? in Old English. The empirical core of the article presents the patterns of alliteration in Old and Middle English; this kind of evidence has not been previously considered in evaluating the progress of the change. The analytical core of the article is dedicated to the dynamics of categorization based on edge vs domain-internal contrasts, the relative strength of the voicing environments, and the distinction among fricatives depending on place of articulation. A comprehensive LAEME and MED database of all relevant forms reaffirms the traditional position regarding French influence for the phonemicization of voicing for the labial fricatives. The categorization of the contrast for the interdental fricatives is a language-internal prosodic process, and the history of the sibilants requires reference to both external and internal factors. The shift from a predominantly complementary to a predominantly contrastive distribution of the voiced???voiceless fricative pairs has been occurring at different rates for a whole millennium. The claim that phonemicization is attributable to Celtic influence in Old English is empirically and theoretically unsubstantiated.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in English Language and Linguistics Vol. 15, Issue 1, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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