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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: An existential problem: The sociolinguistic monitor and variation in existential constructions on Bequia (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
Author: Miriam Meyerhoff
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Auckland
Author: James A. Walker
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.yorku.ca/jamesw
Institution: York University
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Existential constructions in a corpus of spontaneous English from Bequia (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) are used to explore a linguistic problem (Is variation in verb form in existential constructions best viewed as grammatical or lexical?) and a sociolinguistic problem (What aspects of variation change over a lifetime?). We compare “urban sojourners” (Bequians who have been away) with their home village norms. We observe differences in the frequency of the TYPE of existential preferred in different villages and by the urban sojourners. We also observe differences in whether or not the main verb agrees in number with a postposed plural subject. Building on William Labov's early discussions of constraints on variation imposed by the “sociolinguistic monitor,” we suggest that variation in individual speakers supports the notion that variables that are fundamentally grammatical are less likely to mark social factors than lexical variables are. (Bequia, Caribbean English, existentials, subject-verb agreement)

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Language in Society Vol. 42, Issue 4, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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