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Ling 101 4152008 Satoshi Tomioka Language Change Through Time by kellena93


									Ling 101
Satoshi Tomioka

                      Language Change Through Time

Language always changes, no matter what, and no matter how much effort is put
in to ‘preserve’ the language.

Q:    W hy does language change?

A:   W e don’t know why! Sometimes, the influence of other languages triggers
some change, but without such influence, language still changes.

Q:    W hich aspects of language change, and which ones don’t?

A:    Practically every aspect of language changes; phonology, morphology,
syntax, semantics, and lexicon. They all change.

1.    Sound Change (Phonological Change)

Properties of Sound Change

(1)   Sound change is robust. In other words, once sound change happens, all
the words which contain the sound and satisfy the condition must be affected.

(2)  Sound change never target sounds individually. The target is always
phonological features.
Case Study I: Grimm’s Law

                         (Indo)-European Languages

proto-Romance proto-Germanic            proto-Slavic         Proto-Celtic

French, Italian German, English          Russian, Czezh, W elsh,
Spanish, etc.   Dutch, etc.              Bulgalian, etc. Breton, etc

‘Proto-X’ means the ancestor language of the X-group of languages.

In Proto-Germanic, there was a massive sound change at some point.

before                     after               before                       after

[p]          6             [f]                 [b]           6              [p]

[t]          6             [ 2]                [d]           6              [t]

[k]          6             [x]/[h]             [g]           6              [k]

Note: [x] is a voiceless velar fricative that we learned in the German exercise in

One important consequence: This sound change, discovered by Grimm, only took
place in Proto-Germanic language. Therefore, there is no effects of this change
(even today) in non-Germanic European languages.

If you look at the change, you notice that it is not arbitrary.

First set: Voiceless stops become voiceless fricatives.

Second set: Voiced stops become voiceless stops.

These look suspiciously similar to our phonological rules!
Case Study II: Vowel Shortening and Great Vowel Shift in English

Old English (7 th C ~ 1,100)

Representative W riting

Middle English (1,100 ~ 1,450/1,500)

                                  Some time in the early part of Middle English,
Vowel Shortening took place.

Representative W riting
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer

                                  Some time between 1,400 and
                                  1,600, Great Vowel Shift took place.

Modern English (1,500 ~ now)

Vowel Shortening:           Shorten the stressed vowel in a word which has
                            more than one morpheme.

Great Vowel Shift ( the diacritic ‘ : ’ means the vowel is long)

Important: Great Vowel Shift only affected long vowels. Short ones (= the result of
Vowel Shortening, which took place prior to the Shift) were not affected.

“divine”     [dIvajn]             “divinity”   [dIvInIti]
“profound”   [profawnd]           “profundity”[profUndIti]
“serene”     [s erin]             “serenity”   [s ere nIti]

                        Language Change Through Time - Part II
1.     Lexical Change

The most sensitive to changes in society.

1.1.   Borrowing from Other Languages

During the French rule of Great Britain, so many words were imported from

E.g. parliament, government, royal, nation, judge, crime, religion, mercy, saint,
money, estate, value, beef, pork, mutton.

Q: W hat kind of words were imported?

1.2.   New W ords

W hen society changes, there is sometimes need to create new words to match
the change. Nowadays, technological development often drives this need.
Recently added words: to xerox, kleenex, (jumbo)jet, to email, internet, e-X.

1.3.   Loss of W ords

Some words are lost. They are sometimes replaced by some other words.

1.4.   Lexical Semantic Change

Some words are used differently from before.

Broadening of meaning

Holiday - originally meant ‘holy day’, but it could be any day on which we don’t
have to work, regardless of religious significance.

Narrowing of meaning

Meat - originally meant ‘food’, but it is not a particular kind of food.

Shift of meaning

Hopefully Rick is going to graduate this spring.

W ho is hoping?

Other instances of shift of meaning: terribly, cool, gay

2.    Morphological Change

Old English had more Case distinctions than Modern English does. (From F & R,
p. 457) In other words, OE was a lot like German!

In Modern English, dative case is basically lost. Its function is now taken care of
by a prepositional phrase ‘to NP’.

The only remnants of Case distinctions in English are found in its pronoun system
(I vs. me, he vs. him, etc.)

3.    Syntactic Change

OE had a lot more word order freedom than Md English.

Q:    Is there any reason why this was the case?

Other differences in OE:

A:    In question formations, the ordinary verbs were placed before the subjects.
(Again, it was a lot like German or other Germanic languages.)

B:     Some forms of negation had two parts: one preceding the verb and the
other following it. (Double negation is not grammatical in Standard Modern

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