Featured Linguist!

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: Formulaic Language and Second Language Acquisition: Zipf and the Phrasal Teddy Bear
Author: Nick C. Ellis
Institution: University of Michigan
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: This article revisits earlier proposals that language learning is, in essence, the learning of formulaic sequences and their interpretations; that this occurs at all levels of granularity from large to small; and that the language system emerges from the statistical abstraction of patterns latent within and across form and function in language usage. It considers recent research in individual differences, the psycholinguistics of language processing, and longitudinal studies of first (L1) and second (L2) language acquisition. The first section reviews studies of individual differences in phonological short-term memory (PSTM) and working memory (WM) and their correlations with vocabulary and grammar acquisition in L2. The second section summarizes evidence that language processing is sensitive to the statistical properties of formulaic language in terms of frequency and transitional probability. The third section examines the definition of formulas and formulaicity using different statistical metrics. The fourth section evaluates longitudinal research in L1 and L2 into the putative developmental sequence commonly proposed in usage-based approaches, from formula to low-scope pattern to creative construction. The final section weighs the implications of the statistical distributions of formulaicity in usage for developmental sequences of language acquisition. Zipf's law and the “phrasal teddy bear” explain the paradox whereby formulas seed language acquisition and yet learner language is formula-light in comparison to native norms.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Annual Review of Applied Linguistics Vol. 32, Issue 1, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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