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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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Media: The Atoms of Language/Article/Books & Culture

Submitter: Suzette Haden Elgin

Submitter Email: ocls@madisoncounty.net
Media Body: October 24, 2001

Dear Linguist List,

The November/December 2001 issue of _Books & Culture_, pp. 18-19, has a
review by John H. McWhorter of Mark C. Baker's _The Atoms of Language: The
Mind's Hidden Rules of Grammar_ (from Basic Books 2001). The review offers
examples from a number of languages, discusses the Principles & Parameters
model, and raises the question of why, precisely, such things should matter
either to the general public or to linguists. McWhorter offers a Gricean
comment to the effect that Baker "is not consistently successful in
ushering the lay reader into concepts that can be initially rather
obscure," but gives the book as a whole at least an A-minus.

Suzette Haden Elgin

Issue Number: 12.2661
Date Posted: October 24, 2001

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