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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?

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.

Query Details

Query Subject:   The Syntax of Personal Names
Author:   Marge McShane
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Query:   The Institute for Language and Information Technologies (ILIT) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County is developing a system for recognizing references to named entities in texts in any language. So, we need a broad cross-linguistic knowledge base about a) the types of elements that comprise names in many languages and b) in what order and combinations these elements can occur.

If you know or are working on a language that has interesting properties for name formation (especially for so-called less-commonly-taught languages) and could answer the two questions below, we'd much appreciate it.

Our current inventory of components of people's names includes:
- personal name (e.g., Mary)
- surname (e.g., Smith)
- middle name (e.g., Ann)
- middle initial (e.g., A.)
- patronymic (e.g., Ivanovich)
- matronymic (e.g., Espinosa)
- title (Dr., Mr.)
- post-name descriptor [a rather broad category] (Jr., Sr., III, DDS)
- tribal name (Abnaki)
- particle (de, von)

If any language you know uses name components other than these, please name it, describe it briefly, and indicate the language in which it is used.

Our inventory of attested name patterns (e.g., 'title + surname' as in 'John Smith') is too long to list but includes all the patterns typically found in Western European languages, with well-known patterns from other languages as well. Taking that as a rough (although underspecified, for reasons of space) starting point, if you can suggest any additions from less well studied languages please list them below, providing the pattern in terms of category labels and an example, and provide the source language. If you have suggested new category types above, we'd really like to know what patterns they participate in!

Please respond directly to


and let me know if you'd like to see the compiled results of the survey.

Many thanks for your help!
Marge McShane
LL Issue: 15.1762
Date posted: 10-Jun-2004


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