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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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What is English? And Why Should We Care?

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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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Medical Writing in Early Modern English

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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:   (Un)certainty
Author:   Henny Klein
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Discourse Analysis
Subject Language(s):  English

Query:   Thu, 12 Feb 1998 17:35:51 CET
Henny Klein

As a linguist, I work at a project of information retrieval in the
medical field. Right now, I'm interested in ways to infer how CERTAIN
the writers of scientific texts are about phenomena they present and
discuss, such as the physiological or clinical effects of a medicine.
A first screening of such texts provided different lexical clues
related to certainty, like sentence adverbs (PROBABLY, SURELY) modal
verbs (MAY, COULD), epistemic and other groups of verbs (DOUBT,
SUGGEST, CONCLUDE), and modification operators (ALTHOUGH,
NEVERTHELESS). Questions that arise: Are there more such clues? How
must we interprete them? Can we for instance order epistemic verbs
according to their impact, their degree of certainty?
I like to know what has already be done on these subjects. The
fields of linguistics that may be of interest seem manyfold however
(lexical semantics, discourse analysis, comp. linguistics,..), and I
found only few tracks yet (modals mainly) so I turn to you for help:
If you know references to literature about linguistic means to
express confidence/ uncertainty, and their interpretation, please
mail me.
Best, Henny

Henny Klein email: hklein@farm.rug.nl
Groningen University Centre for Pharmacy tel: +31 50 3637571
Social Pharmacy and Pharmacoepidemiology fax: +31 50 3633311
A. Deusinglaan 2
9713 AW Groningen, The Netherlands
LL Issue: 9.218
Date posted: 12-Feb-1998


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