"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
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.
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.
A Note Regarding ‘On the power-law distribution of language family sizes’
Wichmann (2005) discusses the power-law distribution n=ar as a description of the relationship between the number of languages n in a language family, and the rank r of that family in a list ordered by decreasing n. Two datasets are used by Wichmann, one from Ethnologue (Grimes 2000), which lists 130 language families, and one from Ruhlen (1987), listing 21 families. We have reanalysed these data and find that the method of fitting a power-law used in the paper is not optimal because it does not allow for a sensible maximum value for the family size n.