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"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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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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Academic Paper


Title: Domain minimization and beyond: Modeling prepositional phrase ordering
Author: Daniel Wiechmann
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Rheinische-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen
Author: Arne Lohmann
Institution: Universität Wien
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: An important account of linear ordering in syntax is John A. Hawkins' (2004) theory of cognitive efficiency and the principles of domain minimization formulated therein. In its latest formulation, the theory postulates syntactic and semantic minimization principles. With regard to the relative strength of these principles, prior research into the dynamics of these constraints has come to differing conclusions. Using the relative ordering of prepositional phrases (PPs) in English as a test phenomenon, the present study contributes to the further development of a theory of syntactic serialization through the multifactorial analysis of naturalistic data from a corpus of present-day British English. We find that lexical-semantic dependency constitutes the strongest constraint on serialization followed by the weight-related, syntactic one. More specifically, our results show that although syntactic minimization has much greater data coverage – it applies to a much larger proportion of the data – the lexical-semantic factor has a much greater effect size, thus is more seldomly violated. In addition to assessing the relative importance of the two minimization principles, we also investigate the effects of other potential codeterminants of PP order, namely the  >  >  generalization and pragmatic information status. Our results suggest that these play statistically significant but tangential roles in PP ordering.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Language Variation and Change Vol. 25, Issue 1, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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