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Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"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.


Academic Paper


Title: Construction learning as a function of frequency, frequency distribution, and function
Paper URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2009.00896.x
Author: Nick C. Ellis
Institution: University of Michigan
Author: Fernando Gonçalves Ferreira-Junior
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://lattes.cnpq.br/4773337313391912
Institution: Instituto Federal de Minas Gerais
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: This article considers effects of construction frequency, form, function, and prototypicality on second language acquisition (SLA). It investigates these relationships by focusing on naturalistic SLA in the European Science Foundation corpus (Perdue, 1993) of the English verb-argument constructions (VACs): verb locative (VL), verb object locative (VOL), and ditransitive (VOO). Goldberg (2006) argued that Zipfian type/token frequency distributions (Zipf, 1935) in natural language constructions might optimize learning by providing one very high-frequency exemplar that is also prototypical in meaning. This article tests and confirms this proposal for naturalistic English as a second language. We show that VAC type/token distribution in the input is Zipfian and that learners first use the most frequent, prototypical, and generic exemplar (e.g., put in the VOL VAC, give in the VOO ditransitive, etc.). Learning is driven by the frequency and frequency distribution of exemplars within constructions and by the match of their meaning to the construction prototype. © 2009 by The Modern Language Journal.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Modern Language Journal. Vol 93 Issue 3.
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2009.00896.x


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