"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 general address term in Communist China, the Chinese word tongzhi ‘comrade’ was appropriated by gay rights activists in Hong Kong to refer to members of sexual minorities. It has positive connotations of respect, equality, and resistance. This article focuses on the reappropriation of this word by a mainstream newspaper in Hong Kong. The parodic use of tongzhi allows journalists to ridicule gay rights activists so as to increase the entertainment value of news stories. At the same time, it mocks activists' demand for equality and may lead to the pejoration of the term. This study provides synchronic evidence for sociolinguistic accounts that explain how lexical items may undergo pejoration because of the context of their use. It shows that because the meaning potential of a word is not bounded by the intentions of its users, words that marginalized groups have appropriated can be resignified yet again in hateful contexts.