"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
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.
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.
This study investigates two alternative ways in which languages resolve sequences of adjacent vowels (hiatus): deletion of one of the vowels, or coalescence of the adjacent vowels to form a third vowel that combines features of both the originals. Although existing phonological theories predict relatively few restrictions on the behavior of either process, a survey of 92 languages reveals a number of surprising and previously unreported limitations on their behavior. For example, although deletion of the first of two vowels is extremely common and can apply in any position, deletion of the second vowel is restricted to certain well-defined morpho-syntactic contexts, such as the boundary between a root and a suffix. These restrictions, are explained in terms of functionally-motivated constraints that favor preservation of phonological material in certain prominent positions, such as in root morphemes. In the case of coalescence, the study reveals a surprising correlation between the structure of a language's vowel inventory and the result of merging high and a non-high vowels. This correlation is explained in terms of a novel theory of acoustic height features whose detailed specification is determined by functionally-motivated constraints sensitive to the number of vowel heights within a particular language.