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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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Academic Paper

Title: Alexander Bergs, Social networks and historical sociolinguistics: Studies in morphosyntactic variation in the Paston letters (1421–1503). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2005.
Author: Anastassia Zabrodskaja
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: https://www.etis.ee/portaal/isikuPublikatsioonid.aspx?LastNameFirstLetter=Z&PersonVID=37362&l
Institution: Tallinn University
Linguistic Field: Not Applicable
Abstract: Alexander Bergs, Social networks and historical sociolinguistics: Studies in morphosyntactic variation in the Paston letters (1421–1503). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2005. Pp. xii, 318. Hb $123.20. Dedicated to morphosyntactic variation in the late Middle English Paston letters, this book comprises seven chapters, notes, and author and subject indexes. The introductory chapter gives a clear picture of the research goals as well as the book's structure. Analyzing three central linguistic variables – third person plural pronouns, relativization patterns, and light verb constructions – Bergs explains why he has chosen to study variation in the Paston letters using a sociohistorical approach and social network theory. Presenting research material and his object of investigation in chapter 2, the author introduces the notion of historical sociolinguistics. Taking into account extralinguistic evidence, data, and theories, historical sociolinguistics must be viewed as an independent discipline, separate from present-day sociolinguistics and traditional historical linguistics. The third chapter considers ideas, principles, and methods underlying and constituting social network analysis. Giving a comprehensive theoretical background related to the above-mentioned issues, Bergs develops a network for the Paston family from both egocentric and sociocentric perspectives. A detailed description of the corpus used in the study is also presented. According to Bergs, the question of authorship does not play such an important role in morphosyntactic variables as in phonological or graphological ones.


This article appears in Language in Society Vol. 37, Issue 2, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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