"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.
Segmenting words from natural speech: subsegmental variation in segmental cues
Most computational models of word segmentation are trained and tested on transcripts of speech, rather than the speech itself, and assume that speech is converted into a sequence of symbols prior to word segmentation. We present a way of representing speech corpora that avoids this assumption, and preserves acoustic variation present in speech. We use this new representation to re-evaluate a key computational model of word segmentation. One finding is that high levels of phonetic variability degrade the model's performance. While robustness to phonetic variability may be intrinsically valuable, this finding needs to be complemented by parallel studies of the actual abilities of children to segment phonetically variable speech.