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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: Is morphosyntactic change really rare?
Author: Sarah G Thomason
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/ling/people/Sarah_Thomason.htm
Institution: University of Michigan
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Language Acquisition
Abstract: J├╝rgen Meisel argues that "grammatical variation...can be described...in terms of parametric variation", and - crucially for his arguments in this paper - that "parameter settings do not change across the lifespan". To this extent he adopts the standard generative view, but he then departs from what he calls "the literature on historical linguistics" (by which he means the generative literature only) in developing the arguments leading to his major claims: that only "transmission failure" resulting from L2 acquisition can produce parametric morphosyntactic change; that any L2 learners, children or adults, may be the agents of change; that such changes "happen less frequently than is commonly assumed"; and that, "in larger and more complex societies, situations in which L2 learners exert a major influence on a language are most likely to emerge in periods of substantial demographic changes" (his example is a plague that kills most members of a speech community). Adult L2 learners, according to Meisel, can only be agents of parametric change if they provide most or all of the input for the next generation's L1 acquisition.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 14, Issue 2, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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