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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: Richard Buttny, Talking Problems: Studies of discursive construction
Author: Bonnie Uriciuoli
Linguistic Field: Not Applicable; Sociolinguistics
Abstract: Richard Buttny, Talking problems: Studies of discursive construction. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004. Pp.ix, 214. Hb $45.00. Richard Buttney's Talking problems: Studies of discursive construction addresses the centrality of ordinary talk as a key site in the construction of human sociality and social reality. He characterizes talk about problems as a linguistic abstraction from actions or events that call for solutions. Such discourses have regular patterns which people routinely deploy as they tell their troubles and seek solutions to problems. How people structure such talk and position themselves and others in it provides insight into how those people identify themselves socially and operate within moral systems. Problems do not exist independently of the ways in which people perceive and evaluate both the problem situation and themselves. People position themselves as good, blameless, likable, and so on through what Buttny calls a “microlevel rhetoric.” Examination of that rhetoric sheds light on the interests at stake, since positioning means casting oneself or another in terms of specific, often moral characterizations (dutiful, realistic, happy, etc.) which are in turn related to one's membership category (social role, ethnic identity, etc.). Buttny thus builds on work in ethnomethodology and conversational analysis to develop a particular set of methods for the analysis of trouble-telling. He focuses, as he puts it, on communicative practices, positionings and constructions: “How problems get interactionally formed and oriented to, and how interlocutors position themselves in the course of such problem talk” (p. 9, italics in original). Buttny examines three areas of trouble-telling: teens talking about being young parents, therapy talk among clients and their therapist, and talk among college students about race relations. The book is organized into eight chapters: an introduction (summarized above) and conclusion, and two main sections of three chapters each, the first focusing on talking about problems, the second on reported speech about race.


This article appears in Language in Society Vol. 35, Issue 3, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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