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"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

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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: Why Do I Forsake Historical Linguistics?
Paper URL: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2015064
Author: Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://isid.academia.edu/DebaprasadBandyopadhyay
Institution: Indian Statistical Institute
Linguistic Field: Discipline of Linguistics; General Linguistics; Historical Linguistics
Abstract: Historical Linguistics (HL) only analyzes the arbitrary signs or the raw material of language (substance) or externalized Language. HL, by analyzing raw material, formulates a “law” following positivist path. HL searches “authentic” meaning by deploying the tool “etymology.”

What is “authentic” meaning? Socrates questioned, (Cratylus 436, 439) how do you know that the first person, who is naming an object is naming that object after “perfectly” knowing that object’s attributes? Searching authenticity of meaning is a case of extreme essentialism. Attesting a proto-language, on the other hand, is an epi-phenomenal enquiry that leads to a metaphysical totality.

HL follows the biological evolutionary theory to show the development /progress of an externalized language. Hence, it is a case of historicism (deterministic linear history with definite cause and effect, which can be described in a legal term.) This genealogical fantasy is required for the imagination of nation state, as nation state needs a glorious past tradition. Externalized Language, arbitrary signs with the load of values ascribed to them, has become a private property, which can be inherited from the predecessors and can be transmitted to the inheritors.
Epistemologically speaking, from the perspective of History of Science also, there is no pre-figuration of contemporary formal linguistics in Philology (cf. Foucault, 1973:83), though it is incorporated in Linguistics in the guise of HL. Lastly, author questioned the social responsibility of such discipline.
Keywords: General Grammar, Comparative Philology, Linguistics, Epistemological Break
Type: Individual Paper
Status: In Progress
Publication Info: International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics. Vol. XXVIII, No. 2, pp.1-10, 1999
URL: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2015064


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