Contrastive Linguistics Essay

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Narrowly defined, contrastive linguistics can be regarded as a branch of comparative linguistics that is concerned with pairs of languages which are ‘socio-culturally linked’. Two languages can be said to be socio-culturally linked when (i) they are used by a considerable number of bi- or multilingual speakers, and/or (ii) a substantial amount of ‘linguistic output’ (text, discourse) is translated from one language into the other.

According to this definition, contrastive linguistics deals with pairs of languages such as Spanish and Basque, but not with Latin and (the Australian language) Dyirbal, as there is no socio-cultural link between these languages. More broadly defined, the term ‘contrastive linguistics’ is also sometimes used for comparative studies of (small) groups (rather than just pairs) of languages, and does not require a socio-cultural link between the languages investigated. On this view, contrastive linguistics is a special case of linguistic typology and is distinguished from other types of typological approaches by a small sample size and a high degree of granularity. Accordingly, any pair or group of languages (even Latin and Dyirbal) can be subject to a contrastive analysis.

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This article is based on the (intermediate) view that contrastive linguistics invariably requires a socio-cultural link between the languages investigated, but that it is not restricted to pairwise language comparison. Even though it is not a branch of applied linguistics, contrastive linguistics thus aims to arrive at results that carry the potential of being used for practical purposes, e. g. in foreign language teaching and translation. As it provides the descriptive basis for such applications, its research programme can also be summarized as ‘comparison with a purpose’ (E.

Konig). The ‘objective of applicability’ is also reflected in the fact that contrastive studies focus on the differences, rather than the similarities, between the languages compared. As a first approximation, the method of contrastive linguistics can be represented as in Diagram 1 (for ease of representation, the following discussion will concentrate on pairwise comparison). ‘A(Ln)’ stands for the analysis of a language Ln and ‘Ac(L1 – L2)’ for the contrastive analysis of two languages L1 and L2. analysis of single languages >contrastive analysis >A(L1) sociocultural hyperlink application language teaching translation … Alternating current L1 L2 A(L2) Diagram 1: Contrastive linguistics among language-particular analysis and application The programa given in Plan 1 will probably be refined below.

In particular, the role of ‘bilingual linguistic output’ will be integrated into the picture. This output not only offers the empirical basis for contrastive studies although also capabilities as a conceptual link between linguistic systems investigated, as they can be used to build comparability among categories from different languages. After providing a brief famous overview of contrastive linguistics in Section 2, Section 3 will talk about some fundamental methodological problems, in particular the question of crosslinguistic comparability.

In Sections some and 5, two significant types of comparison will be illustrated, i actually. e. a comparison of purely formal categories (consonants) and comparison of linguistic classes that hold meaning or function (tense). Section six will manage generalizations throughout functional domain names (Wh-question development and relativization). Section six will conclude with some remarks within the empirical basis of contrastive linguistics (specialized corpora).

2 Historic remarks The programme of contrastive linguistics was started by Charles Carpenter Fries from the University of Michigan in the nineteen forties. Fries (1945: 9) asserted that “[t]he most effective elements [in foreign language teaching] happen to be those that will be based upon a scientific description of the vocabulary to be learned, carefully compared to a parallel description in the native vocabulary of the learner”. Some years later, this project was put into practice by simply Fries’ friend Robert Cara (1957), who provided a comparative explanation of British and The spanish language.

The presumption that foreign language teaching can be improved by simply comparing the learner’s native language together with the language being learned had become known as the “Contrastive Hypothesis”. The main assumptions can be described as follows (cf. Konig & Gast 08: 1): • • Initial language acquisition and foreign language learning vary fundamentally, particularly in those circumstances where the language is learnt later compared to a mother tongue and the basis belonging to he total mastery of the mother tongue. Every language has its specific composition. Similarities between the two dialects will cause no difficulties (‘positive transfer’), yet differences is going to, due to ‘negative transfer’ (or ‘interference’).

The student’s learning task can easily therefore roughly be understood to be the amount of the variations between the two languages. A scientific comparison among mother tongue and foreign language to be learnt will certainly reveal equally similarities and contrasts. Based on such a comparison it will be possible to predict and even rank learning difficulties also to develop strategies (teaching components, teaching approaches, etc . ) for making language teaching more effective. • • The contrastive hypothesis inside the form described above rapidly turned out to be as well optimistic.

It had been too undifferentiated in many respects and neglected significant parameters of second language acquisition (e. g. natural or mediated, continuous vs . coexisting, second or third dialect, etc . ). Moreover, the contrastive system lacked a great foundation in mastering psychology and was by no means even put on a reasonable empirical basis, insofar as the intention of producing comprehensive comparisons of dialect pairs was never sure realized. The enterprise of improving foreign language teaching on the basis of pairwise vocabulary comparison was therefore forgotten before long, though a certain plausibility of by least a few of the basic presumptions made by early contrastive linguistics can scarcely be rejected (cf. Kortmann 1998).

Fresh impetus was handed to pairwise language assessment in a number of guides from the 1972s and 1980s that did not primarily pursue didactic purposes (e. g. Konig the year of 1971, Rohdenburg 1974, Plank 1984). These authors regarded contrastive linguistics like a “limiting circumstance of typological comparison” (Konig 1996: 51) which was seen as a a small sample size and a high level of granularity. This typologically oriented approach culminated in Ruben Hawkins’ (1986) monograph A comparative typology of British and The german language – Unifying the contrasts. It was certainly one of Hawkins’ main objectives to expose correlations among properties of specific grammatical subsystems (esp. syntax and morphology), with the ultimate objective of ‘unifying the contrasts’.

Moreover, Hawkins aimed at featuring explanations pertaining to the correlations he noticed and related his contrastive analyses to theories of language finalizing (e. g. Hawkins 1992). Even though Hawkins’ hypotheses and generalizations hit with criticism (e. g. Kortmann & Meyer 1992, Rohdenburg 1992), that they provided important insights and helped build contrastive linguistics as a form of language evaluation that was interesting and worthwhile itself, without pursuing any specific objectives associated with second language obtain or various other linguistic applications. The eighties and 1990s witnessed a certain diversification in neuro-scientific contrastive linguistics insofar as new subject areas came into primary of attention (e. g. pragmatics and discourse studies, cf.

Residence & Blum-Kulka 1986, Oleksy 1989), and new empirical methods were introduced, esp. corpus-based kinds (cf.  Section 7). The of specialized corpora (parallel corpora and learner corpora) also triggered a revival of the link between contrastive linguistics and linguistic applications, e. g. insofar since insights gained from (quantitative) contrastive examines turned out to be useful for translation studies (see at the. g. Johansson 1998a).

Many contemporary studies published underneath the label of ‘contrastive linguistics’ follow the nature of the portrayal given in Section 1, i actually. e. they will pursue a basically linguistic interest although deal with pairs of different languages that are ‘socio-culturally linked’. Actually the majority of articles published inside the journal ‘languages’ in Contrast, that has been launched by the John Benjamins Publishing Business in 1998, works with European ‘languages’, esp. Germanic and Relationship ones.

So far as the subject areas investigated are concerned, there is a preponderance of discourse-related studies, which may be due to the corpus-based methodology used in most cases. 3 Establishing assessment Just like linguistic typology, contrastive linguistics must face the problem of “comparability of incommensurable systems” (Haspelmath 2008). In non-universalist frameworks (such while early structuralist linguistics and its modern successors), linguistic types are only described relative to the system that they type part of. Appropriately, the question occurs whether groups from distinct linguistic systems can be in contrast at all, of course, if so , just how such an evaluation can be carried out.

In very general terms, assessment can be defined as the identification of similarities and differences between two or more groups along a certain (set of) dimension(s). The categories as opposed must be of the same type, i. e. there has to be a set of homes that they have in common, or a superordinate category made up of them. 1 major obstacle for relative linguistics hence is to decide the nature of that superordinate category (‘CS’) for almost any pair of classes under comparability: (1) C1 CS C2 In linguistic typology, the situation of “comparability of incommensurable systems” has become tackled in various ways.

Haspelmath (2008) provides argued that cross-linguistic evaluation needs to be depending on “comparative concepts”, i. elizabeth. analytic ideas that are used to explain specific facets of linguistic devices, e. g.  ‘subject’, ‘case’, ‘(past/present/future) tense’, etc . For example, a ‘subject’ in German born does not have precisely the (system-internal) properties of a ‘subject’ in English. Nonetheless, ‘subject’ can be utilised as a relative concept, in the sense of ‘grammaticalized neutralization over specific types of semantic roles’.

Deciding the extent of similarity as well as the dissimilarities between the instantiations of the comparative concept ‘subject’ in the languages under comparability is precisely the task which a relevant contrastive study has to carry out (cf. Rohdenburg 1974, Konig & Gast 2008: Ch. 6). In contrastive linguistics, the ‘assumption of comparability’ intended for specific pairs of groups is shown in, and supported by, linguistic output. Understand that contrastive linguistics has been defined as dealing with pairs (or groups) of ‘languages’ that are socio-culturally linked, i. e. languages for which a large amount of bilingual end result is available, for example in the form of goedkoop and seite an seite corpora.

While Johansson (2000: 5) puts it, “[t]he utilization of multilingual corpora, with a variety of texts and a range of translators symbolized, increases the quality and dependability of the assessment. It can without a doubt be viewed as the methodical exploitation with the bilingual instinct of interpraters …. ” The ‘hypothesis of inter-lingual commensurability’ is usually thus not really a heuristic approach but an undeniable fact of your life reflected in the language of (balanced and fully proficient) bilingual audio system.

Bilingual result is also tightly related to the question of (non-)equivalence among categories via different ‘languages’ in another admiration: Second language learners often identify categories using their L2 with categories from their L1 (‘inter-lingual identification’, ‘interference’, cf. Weinreich 1953). In other words, second language students make an supposition of ‘interlingual equivalence’ which gives rise to non-target-like constructions in their L2.

In these cases, the (non-)equivalence of categories by different languages is not just a question of heuristics but part of the thing of research. 4 Comparability based on contact form: Consonant arrays A phonological and morphophonological comparison of two languages is purely form-based insofar as it does not make reference to meaning or function. Specific areas of phonological business have thought prominently in (especially early) contrastive research (e. g. Lado 1957). Given that phonemes are relational entities that can only be defined with reference to the machine that they form part of in addition to fact make up, they cannot quickly be compared across languages. Let us consider the consonant inventories of English and German for illustration.

A framework of comparison is given by a time-honored structuralist examination which is depending on articulatory top features of typical allophones instantiating the kind of phonemes (‘place of articulation’, ‘manner of articulation’ and ‘voicing’). The two English phoneme /t/ plus the German one particular /t/ may thus be regarded as instantiating the comparative principle ‘voiceless alveolar plosive’. You will find two fundamental types of relationships between such pairs of consonants: near equivalence and non-equivalence.

The latter romantic relationship is uninteresting in most cases – as almost all pairs of consonants will be obviously non-equivalent, say Engl. /p/ and Germ. /k/ – but there is a special case of nonequivalence that is certainly highly relevant to contrastive studies, i actually. e. partially equivalence. When it comes to near equivalence two phonemes have the same distribution and (in many contexts) similar phonetic realizations. For instance, the ultimate consonant inside the English phrase bin can be both phonetically and phonologically similar to the final consonant in (the first person singular kind of the The german language copula) bin, and the relevant phonemes include a similar division.

The relationship among these phonemes is one of near assent (rather than ‘full equivalence’) because phonemes (as very well as linguistic categories in general) are defined simply relative to linguistic systems. This means that phonemes by different linguistic systems can not be totally equivalent. A relationship of partial assent obtains when ever two phonemes are phonetically and distributionally similar however, not (near) comparative.

For instance, the alveolar horizontal of English and its German counterpart have got a similar syndication but (partially) different phonetic realizations, since Engl. /l/, unlike German born /l/, is definitely velarized within a syllable-final placement. If phonemes are regarded as sets of allophones, Engl. /l/ and Germ. /l/ can be said to overlap however, not to be co-extensive: (3) comparison concept ‘voiced alveolar lateral’ Engl. /l/ = l,? , l? Germ. /l/ = l, l? As this kind of example demonstrates, the difference between near equivalence and part equivalence is known as a gradual a single. Partial equivalence can be assumed when the inter-lingual identification of two groups leads to considerable deviations through the target program in one of the different languages involved.

In the event German speakers identify the German /n/-phoneme with the The english language one, this will likely not lead to any obvious deviation coming from native British phonology; the two categories will be thus around equivalent. If, however , the /l/-phoneme of English is usually identified while using one of German born, the pronunciation will be non-target-like in particular contexts (e. g. *[f? l] instead of [f? ]). Such ‘erroneous’ inter-lingual recognition of categories from distinct languages contributes to interference.

The relationship between the types involved can be called pseudoequivalence; it keeps between a pair of categories because conceived simply by an (unbalanced) bilingual audio. The contrastive method defined above is usually illustrated in Diagram two, where the part of bilingual data can be taken into account. Every single language will be analyzed in the own terms (e. g. by identifying alveolar laterals in English and German), and the ‘raw data’ is definitely subject to a ‘preliminary comparison’ (e. g. by evaluating Engl. trash can to Germ. bin and Engl. high to Bacteria. toll).

Comparability is established based on comparative concepts (‘voiced alveolar lateral’), and the pairs of categories therefore identified happen to be subject to a contrastive analysis against the history of bilingual output (e. g. the pronunciation of German L2-speakers of English). bilingual output L1 info language-internal linguistic categories research preliminary assessment comparison based on ‘comparative concepts’ L1 Ac L2 L2 info language-internal linguistic categories evaluation Diagram 2: The procedure of form-based comparability in contrastive linguistics a few Comparison based upon form and function: Temporal types Most guidelines of assessment investigated in contrastive research are not strictly formal yet concern the mapping between form and performance. As is popular from typological studies, this kind of mapping is normally (and probably universally) many-to-many, i. electronic. each ontological category could be expressed applying various linguistic categories, and linguistic category covers some range of functions.

This many-to-many relationship between form and performance is illustrated in Table 1 . ontological categories OC1 OC2 OC3 OC4 … Table you: Mapping from function to create and vice versa Still, the mapping by function to form is not entirely irrelavent. Roughly speaking, the domains of which means covered by specific linguistic category must be semantically similar. Inside the ‘semantic map’ approach designed in linguistic typology (e. g. Haspelmath 1993, truck der Auwera & Plungian 1998), semantic similarity can be represented because proximity within an ndimensional space.

Such cross-linguistic models of form-function mapping is a comparative concept in contrastive analyses. This will always be illustrated while using example of tense categories in English and German. Ones own generally the circumstance in relative studies, a certain amount of simplification should be used in the establishment of inter-lingual comparability. (4) represents a simplified type of temporal linguistics categories LC1 LC2 LC3 LC4 … reference that highlights those distinctions that are central into a comparison of English and A language like german (cf. Declerck 2006): (4) PAST … PRE-PRESENT t0 POST-PRESENT Tense categories will often cover dependant domains on the time axis as displayed in (4).

The ‘time spheres’ (roughly) covered by English language and A language like german tense classes are suggested in (5): (5) English PAST … PRE-PRESENT t0 POST-PRESENT ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————- Past Tight Present Ideal Present Tense Future (will) Prateritum Perfekt Prasens Futur (werden) The same types of (non-)equivalence relations that were talked about in Section 4 may be observed in (5). The relationship of near assent holds between your English will-future and the German born werden-future. Once again, the two classes cannot be considered to be ‘fully equivalent’.

Even though equally future tenses are used for the future time world only (disregarding non-temporal uses like the epistemic ones), their distribution in English and German varies considerably. The reason is that there are different contrasting and competing anxious categories in each language: The English will-future competes with the going to-future although the German born werden-Futur competes with the Prasens. One effect of this difference is that the British will-future is definitely considerably more frequent than the A language like german werden-Futur (in the used language), while the former, however, not the latter category represents the ‘unmarked’ (semantically more general) choice vis-a-vis its primary competitor.

The English and German tight systems provide several types of partial assent. For instance, the English Simple Present as well as the German Prasens are comparable in some situations but not in others. Around speaking, the contexts where the English Simple Present is employed constitutes a subset of the contexts where the German Prasens can be used. This, once again, often brings about interference in bilingual conversation (‘pseudo-equivalence’), electronic. g. when ever speakers of German utilize English Simple Present to get future period reference resulting from ‘inter-lingual identification’ of the two categories.

6 Comparison across functional websites As was shown in the earlier section, the comparison of groups associated with particular functions (‘tense’) typically leaves from an ontological category (‘temporal reference’). In specific cases several kinds of ontological groups (as well as their manifestations in different languages) can be referred to in terms of similar comparative principle. A relevant model is provided by the two trends of comparable clause formation and Wh-question formation in English and German (cf.

Hawkins 1986). From a great ontological (functional) point of view, these types of operations must be kept aside: Relative clauses are typically utilized to attribute a German home to some referent with the objective of enabling the hearer to spot that referent (the guy who lives next door). By contrast, Wh-questions (Who will you marry? ) elicit the significance of a specific variable in an open proposition (‘You will marry x; who may be x? ‘).

However , in English and German equally operations can be described regarding the same comparison concept, i. e. ‘movement’ or ‘extraction’. Assuming that visible syntactic structures are (either in certain cases or always) the consequence of movement functions (one from the basic credos of pre-Minimalist Generative Grammar), both Wh-question formation and relative terms formation may be regarded as cases of extraction, different only when it comes to the (external) distribution from the relevant classes. For instance, in (6) that is assumed to have been moved from its ‘base position’ (t) to it is ‘surface position’: (6) a. The man [whoi you talked to ti] is my brother. b. Whoi did you talk to ti?

The comparative concept of ‘extraction’ allows us to formulate generalizations across practical domains (relative clauses and Wh-formation). Because Hawkins (1986) has shown, the operation of extraction is definitely subject to distinct restrictions in English and German: British allows extractions out of finite go with clauses and non-finite adverbielt clauses, although not away of finite adverbial classes. By contrast, German does not let extractions out of limited or adverbielt clauses whatsoever (i. electronic. extractions are only possible out of non-finite complement clauses).

This is demonstrated in (7) and (8) and illustrated in Stand 2 (from Konig & Gast 08: 195). (7) (8) a. Whoi did Charles believe [that he noticed ti in our garden]? w. The man [whoi Charles thought [that this individual saw usted in our garden]] was my mate. a. *Weni glaubte Karl, [dass er in unserem Garten ti sah]? b. *Der Mann, [deni Karl glaubte, [dass ser in meinem Garten usted sah]], war mein Bruder. Table 2: Tooth extractions in English and German The case in point discussed in this section demonstrates the position of linguistic theories in contrastive linguistics. They provide concepts and terms that can act as a framework of evaluation.

Note that the ‘usefulness’ of any given unit (for a given question) ought to be evaluated against the background of the (contrastive) generalizations that it allows one to generate. Contrastive linguistics is hence often purposely ecclectic according to theories and methods it uses, plus the choice of linguistic model varies from one efficient domain to another. 7 The utilization of corpora in contrastive linguistics As the preceding dialogue has shown, bilingual output plays an important position in contrastive linguistics in at least two aspects: First, it possesses a basis of comparability, or at least justifies the presumption of assessment; second, it constitutes the material on which contrastive generalizations happen to be based.

The presence of bilingual output has for that reason been pointed out as a central feature of contrastive linguistics, not least because it distinguishes this self-discipline from other types of comparative studies, especially typological kinds. Two significant types of bilingual end result can be known: (i) data sets which will instantiate each of the linguistic systems in ways which often not fluctuate substantially via output produced by native audio system of the relevant languages (‘balanced bilingual output’); and (ii) data sets which are characterized by deviance via relevant output produced by local speakers with the languages included (‘unbalanced bilingual output’).

Well balanced bilingual result is symbolized by (high quality) goedkoop and seite an seite corpora based upon such translations. Unbalanced bilingual output can be represented by non-target-like language of second language learners. This kind of data has also been collected in large types of texts by means of ‘learner corpora’. Each type of resource can be utilized for different functions. As a standard tendency, parallel corpora are associated with quantitatively oriented (often distributional) studies of particular linguistic features in discourse.

The outcomes obtained in such studies are often tightly related to translation research. In recent years, parallel corpora have got played an especially prominent function in contrastive linguistics based in Scandinavian countries (e. g. Aijmer ainsi que al. mil novecentos e noventa e seis, Johansson 1998b). It is also through this research framework that extensive parallel corpora have been put together, e. g. the English-Norwegian Parallel Corpus, which was assembled between year 1994 and 1997 at the School of Oslo.

This a contains (pairs of) text messages that have been translated in equally directions, my spouse and i. e. you will find English neuf with Norwegian translations and vice versa. This kind of ‘bidirectional’ corpora allow for the research of alternatively subtle concerns concerning the theory and practice of translation, e. g. ‘hidden’ interference phenomena and translation norms. While parallel corpora provide (balanced) bilingual output, spanish student corpora are ‘bilingual’ in different ways: they include only data from one terminology, which is, however , produced by secondary language learners and therefore exhibits popular features of the leaner’s L1.

Probably the most comprehensive learner corpora obtainable – the International A of Learner English (ICLE) – has been compiled on the University of Leuven beneath the coordination of S. Granger (cf. Granger 1998). It contains more than a few million words produced by indigenous speakers of more than twenty several languages. Although the computerized evaluation of interlanguage need not follow a didactic purpose, this obviously produces the capacity for several pedagogical applications and has actually become a central component of technology-enhanced learning lately. References Aijmer, Karin, Bengt Altenberg and Mats Johansson (eds. ) (1996). ‘languages’ in contrast.

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