By Mark Davies, Dee Gardner

ISBN-10: 0203880889

ISBN-13: 9780203880883

A Frequency Dictionary of up to date American English: notice sketches, collocates, and thematic listsis a useful software for all newcomers of yankee English, offering an inventory of the 5,000 most often used phrases within the language.

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Extra info for A Frequency Dictionary of Contemporary American English: Word Sketches, Collocates and Thematic Lists

Example text

Well, Santa Claus. You mean that guy? The guy that supposedly doesn't exist? Maybe you see the problem. It looks like one is talking about an object, and attributing a propertynamely, not existingto that object. But if it's an object, an object which has properties, then it must exist! So, to say that Santa Claus doesn't exist is contradictory nonsense. A philosophical puzzle. But one thatit's been claimedcan be dissolved by linguistic analysis. The problem arises, it's been suggested, from taking (2) to be a sentence of subject-predicate form, on a par with (3): (2) Santa Claus does not exist (3) John is tall That is, it's supposed that sentence (2) has as its subject the word 'Santa Claus' (which presumably denotes some individual) and has as its predicate 'does not exist' (which, you might think, picks out that property had by all the things which don't exist).

But the E-language conception has no resources for distinguishing between Japanese and English speakers on these fronts. All an E-language proponent can say is: "The set called 'English' contains neither sentences of (say) Hindi, nor noises of type N; similarly, the set called 'Japanese' also fails to contain these things". The I-language conception fares significantly better here. Since it equates a language with a bunch of rules, which apply blindly to any input, the language can assign a status to a vast range of physical events, including the utterance "John seems to be sleeping", the utterance "John seems sleeping", a sentence of Hindi, and probably the squeaking of a door, if we could do careful enough experiments to show how speakers of English and Japanese might differ in the way they "hear" this noise (Chomsky 1990, 513).

This is all pretty vague. But it illustrates a line of argument that links thought to language. And some linguists and philosophers have been enormously impressed by these links. Here's why: it has Page 4 just been claimed, in effect, that the language a person thinks in shapes the thoughts she does have and can have. If this is right, what people think about the world around them will depend upon what language they speak! Here's a famous example. It's often alleged that the Inuit have lots of different words for snow.

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A Frequency Dictionary of Contemporary American English: Word Sketches, Collocates and Thematic Lists by Mark Davies, Dee Gardner


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