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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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Academic Paper

Title: The relation between the working memory skills of sign language interpreters and the quality of their interpretations
Author: Rick Van Dijk
Institution: Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS
Author: Ingrid K. Christoffels
Institution: Lehigh University
Author: Albert Postma
Institution: Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS
Author: Daan Hermans
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.kentalis.com/Kentalis_C01/Modules/ItembankA/ItembankA_Item.asp?ModID=1718&ItemID=1278&bot
Institution: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Linguistic Field: Psycholinguistics
Subject Language Family: Sign Language
Abstract: In two experiments we investigated the relationship between the working memory skills of sign language interpreters and the quality of their interpretations. In Experiment 1, we found that scores on 3-back tasks with signs and words were not related to the quality of interpreted narratives. In Experiment 2, we found that memory span scores for words and signs under oral articulatory suppression were related to the quality of interpreted narratives. We argue that the insensitivity to articulatory suppression in memory span tasks reflects the interpreters' ability to bind information from multiple sources in episodic memory. This enhanced ability leads to less reliance on the retention of information from the source language in memory during interpreting, and will positively affect the quality of interpretations (Padilla, Bajo & Macizo, 2005). Finally, in contrast to previous studies on the memory spans for signs and words (Hall & Bavelier, 2010), we found that the memory spans scores for spoken words and signs were equally large. We argue that the use of a large set of phonologically complex stimuli in the present study may have stimulated participants to use a speech-based code to store and retain the signs in short-term memory.


This article appears in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 15, Issue 2, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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