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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: Models, forests, and trees of York English: Was/were variation as a case study for statistical practice
Author: Sali A Tagliamonte
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Toronto
Author: Harald R. Baayen
Institution: Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Linguistic Field: Computational Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Morphology
Subject Language: English
Abstract: What is the explanation for vigorous variation between was and were in plural existential constructions, and what is the optimal tool for analyzing it? Previous studies of this phenomenon have used the variable rule program, a generalized linear model; however, recent developments in statistics have introduced new tools, including mixed-effects models, random forests, and conditional inference trees that may open additional possibilities for data exploration, analysis, and interpretation. In a step-by-step demonstration, we show how this well-known variable benefits from these complementary techniques. Mixed-effects models provide a principled way of assessing the importance of random-effect factors such as the individuals in the sample. Random forests provide information about the importance of predictors, whether factorial or continuous, and do so also for unbalanced designs with high multicollinearity, cases for which the family of linear models is less appropriate. Conditional inference trees straightforwardly visualize how multiple predictors operate in tandem. Taken together, the results confirm that polarity, distance from verb to plural element, and the nature of the DP are significant predictors. Ongoing linguistic change and social reallocation via morphologization are operational. Furthermore, the results make predictions that can be tested in future research. We conclude that variationist research can be substantially enriched by an expanded tool kit.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Language Variation and Change Vol. 24, Issue 2, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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