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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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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.

Query Details

Query Subject:   The social construction of illness
Author:   Arran Stibbe
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Sociolinguistics

Query:   Autobiographies, I find, take me into other worlds like no other
literature does. There may be inaccurate reconstructions and
distortions of events, but they show how people think and reason and
experience their lives. Particularly interesting are `pathographies',
detailed first person descriptions of how people are effected by
serious illness, not just on a medical level but also on personal,
emotional and social levels.

My own interest is in tracing the metaphors used in pathography, and,
through the wealth of information provided by the details of the
autobiographies, trying to assess their affect on people's lives.

Given what I see as their potential for illuminating the social
construction of illness I am surprised not to find lots of literature
on pathography. Arthur Frank writes that `There are virtually no
academic studies of nonfiction, first person, published illness
narrative; the sole exception I know is Hawkins (1984)'.

The question is, is Frank right? If anyone has come across either work
on illness narratives in popular non-fiction, or has found some
particularly interesting non-fiction account of illness then it would
be nice to hear from you. I'll send a summary of what I find to

Arran Stibbe

- --------------------------------------------------------
Arran Stibbe TEL: 27 461 318105 (W)
Department of Linguistics FAX: 27 461 25049
Rhodes University
Grahamstown 6140
South Africa
- --------------------------------------------------------
LL Issue: 8.188
Date posted: 07-Feb-1997


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