The phenomenon whereby a language's grammar and lexicon change over time.

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What parts of speech are the most, and least, susceptible to linguistic change? And why?

What parts of speech are the most susceptible, and the least susceptible, to linguistic change? And why? I would think that nouns are the most susceptible, and that closed word classes, such as ...
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75 views

What is known or believed about the origin of Semitic-type root-and-template morphology?

How does nonconcatenative morphology of the Semitic type (consonantal roots, vocalic templates + affixes) arise diachronically? It's pretty easy to see how a nonconcatenative inflectional system ...
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82 views

Can we choose words to avoid change?

The pronunciation and meaning of words change over time, as a result of a variety of forces. These forces are well documented and fairly well understood. Given this knowledge, is it possible to coin ...
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135 views

Would it be possible to discover through linguistics if any non-human languages influenced known language families?

Suppose some recent hominins such as Neanderthal had a spoken language (currently, as far as I'm aware, we are uncertain if they did, but suppose we knew they did). If this were the case, would it be ...
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1answer
79 views

Who or which academic paper first noted the death of a language every two weeks?

One language dies every two weeks. But where does that statistic come from? Everyone is saying it without explicit citation. Who or which academic paper first noted the death of a language every two ...
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Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French number words from eleven to nineteen - history of a bizarre, inconsistent construction

Following Sklivvz's advice, I propose here a question I made in Italian Language. Because I am not sure how I should do this, I will just copy/paste the whole lot. Let's count in Latin from one to ...
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2answers
98 views

What are the main criteria for a grammar mistake to become a new normative?

I am conducting a small research on the usage of dual in the Czech language. Normally, the dual is used only when referring to body parts (legs, eyes, knees etc) and the number 200. However, in spoken ...
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1answer
77 views

Do we know of any influences on Tibetan from Chinese (other than lexical borrowing)?

With China asserting its influence on Tibet, including the standard Chinese language, what changes if any have taken place in the Tibetan language due to influence from the Chinese language? ...
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111 views

Different accent for different genders and age groups

Probably due to a desire to sound cute or otherwise I find teens (girls mostly) using an accent wherein they have to pout their lips a bit more in speaking while this may give them a more appealing ...
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871 views

Why did England not maintain French as a spoken language?

In many countries around the world, especially in Africa, the people natively speak both an indigenous language and French due to French colonization. The Norman conquest of England left us with ...
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308 views

Does language improve over time, or does it just change?

Obviously none of the languages that existed 5000 years ago are still in use today. Rather, we use their descendants. Over time, the lexicon and grammar change and transform, subtly, so that the ...
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360 views

Evidence of/against deterioration in language proficiency

The opinion that young people nowadays can't properly write any more seems to have (had) currency across many cultures and times. For example, C. H. Ward, a 1917 Conneticut school teacher, is reported ...
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Do languages evolve via community usage or via influential individuals?

In the modern world, it's clear that some very influential people have a small effect on the evolution of a language by popularizing certain linguistic constructions as slang, which eventually evolve ...
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210 views

Would a “Proto-World” language have any long-lasting effect on today's languages?

To what extent would a so-called "Proto-World" language (if there ever was such a thing) have affected the languages spoken today? How greatly would such a language have guided the future state of ...
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3answers
173 views

Do central language regulation bodies accelerate or inhibit orthography changes?

In some discussions about the latest reform of the German orthography, it was claimed that a central language regulation body prevents people from writing as they like and thus prevents »natural« ...
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497 views

Why are only yes/no questions asked with a rising tone?

There is a rule used almost subconsciously by almost all English speakers (and I'm sure it applies to many other languages too) which is that yes/no questions are asked ending with a rising tone, and ...
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199 views

Is usage of 'SMS language' or 'textspeak' changing in any direction?

'SMS language' or 'textspeak' was popularised due in the 90s due to the use of phones with numeric keypads. However, most smartphones these days come with autocorrect / autocomplete which outputs ...
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86 views

What mechanism of language can be used to explain competitive synonyms similar to high-frequency word?

Suppose we have two competitive synonyms A and B. We found out that during the historical changes of the language, A gains dominant position. We found out the fact above via a statistical survey of ...
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233 views

How much time does it take to create/fork a new language?

I wonder if there exists any summary or paper analysing the time it takes for the creation of a new language (with all reservations concerning definitions of languages et dialects etc.)? Take, for ...
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879 views

Why is English so much more simplified than other, similar languages?

English seems to have rules that are much more simple than its cousin German and its influencer French, as well as most of the languages that those are related to. What caused this? I suspect it's ...
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197 views

Would a Proto language be easy to learn?

Since English descends from Proto-Germanic, which descends from PIE, would either of those two languages be relatively easy to learn (compared to, say, Japanese), or has the language changed too much ...
2
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1answer
312 views

What are the go-to resources on historical linguistics?

I'm pretty interested in historical linguistics, but unfortunately, my school rarely offers the historical linguistics class. What are some go-to resources on historical linguistics, be it books, ...
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105 views

Have there been any significant attempts to map the evolution of English?

By this I mean have there been any project which analyze the evolution of specific constructs, specific words, etc., and how the language has changed over time?
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287 views

Are there any linguistic factors that influence the degree to which a language accepts loanwords?

Obviously, the degree to which loanwords enter a language is highly influenced by culture - for instance, a community which has a lot of contact with another culture, through which many new objects / ...
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1answer
290 views

Why is the number of grammatical cases in Germanic and Romance languages decreasing?

There is a tendency in Germanic and Romance languages that the number of the grammatical cases is decreasing. The Indo-European proto-language should have 8 grammatical cases, in Latin we already ...
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538 views

What language has the longest word for 'no' and 'yes'?

I'm asking this because I'm learning Swahili now, for which the word 'yes' translates to 'ndiyo' and 'no' translates to 'hakuna.' It strikes me as strange that a language would have such long words ...
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543 views

Do onomatopoeias resist sound change?

Regular sound changes can of course affect phonemes used in onomatopoeias. For example, consider a language containing /mjaw/, referring to the call of a cat. Suppose that final /w/ is sound-changed ...
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1k views

Has the internet had an effect on language change?

Has the internet or the recent dramatic cheapening of long-distance communication in general had an effect on the way language evolves? I would think (purely speculatively) that it reinforces those ...
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297 views

Significance of “childish errors” in mainstream language change

Over on ELU the question Is “bettern't” an OK word to use? drew me into debate about how significant "childish errors" are in the development of mainstream language. Hence, the question: Are ...
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247 views

Grammaticalization of third person singular -s in English

Is there any evidence that the third person singular -s can be traced back to a lexical item before it became an inflection? I am trying to see if the theory of grammaticalization applies to its ...
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510 views

Did Western European languages change faster during the Renaissance?

I am looking for data that either confirm or refute the following statement: During the Renaissance (let's say, 14th to 16th centuries), Western European languages changed very rapidly. The pace ...
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4answers
839 views

What explains the Icelandic language conservatism?

The Icelandic language is often used as an example of a very conservative language, compared to other Indo-European languages, in general, and to other North-Germanic languages, in particular, all of ...
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333 views

How powerful is literacy to slow down language change?

The degree of literacy of a certain community of speakers is generally proposed as one of the factors that affect the pace of language change. More specifically, literacy would slow down change, since ...
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392 views

What is the reason for the semantic change bowl/pot/cup > head?

I was reading about problems with the assumption of basic vocabulary in Lyle Campbell, Historical Linguistics: An Introduction: Some 'basic vocabulary' appears to change rather easily for cultural ...
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283 views

Vanishing phonemes, nasalization of vowels, tones

Looking at modern French in light of vulgar Latin, or Chinese compared with Proto-Sino-Tibetan (if that can even be reconstructed), there seems to be quite a few contexts in which phonemes are ...
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341 views

Is urbanization correlated with language innovation?

In Brazil, the Portuguese dialects spoken in rural areas preserve, despite their own innovations, several features of the language that were common in the 16th century. This phenomenon is particularly ...
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158 views

Do signed languages undergo the same processes of change that the spoken ones do?

There are several processes of change that affect spoken languages, including phonological and phonetic change, semantic change and lexical replacement. Each of these categories, in turn, comprise a ...
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714 views

Is the “principle of least effort” a real factor behind language change?

I have heard and read several times that one of the forces that drive language change is the so called "principle of least effort". According to this account, several changes are caused by an economy ...
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1answer
225 views

What's this loanword phenomenon called?

I've noticed that loanwords often take on more specific meanings in the target language than in the source language. To give two very common examples, sake just means alcohol in Japanese and salsa ...
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1answer
258 views

Can you measure the rate of drift?

Is there a measure for the rate of language drift? In one answer to this question, it was suggested that drift had slowed for technological reasons, but may also be speeding up because of different ...
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2answers
260 views

Is anyone studying change in constructed language?

Is there any serious work being done on linguistic change in constructed languages (e.g. Esperanto, Interlingua, Lojban)? I would imagine it might be difficult given the small population of native ...
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4answers
14k views

Weird behavior of two fruits' names (ananas/pineapple, banana/plátano)

Some time ago I found two tables that reported the names for two fruits, which were supposed to be funny, because they specifically reported a single exception among those several languages, where ...
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1answer
358 views

How much is known about verb regularization rates?

According to this abstract, published in 2007, "the half-life of an irregular verb scales as the square root of its usage frequency: a verb that is 100 times less frequent regularizes 10 times as ...
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2answers
301 views

How do computational linguists abstractly represent a language?

When building models of the evolution of languages or similar phenomena where many different languages are involved and change over time, how do computational linguists abstractly model a language? ...
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1answer
76 views

Case reassignment without change in number of cases

Most languages with cases seem to be either gaining or losing them diachronically (The Indo-European languages are an example of the latter, and the Uralic languages of the former). Manchu and Xibe (a ...
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3answers
492 views

What languages are expected to “die off” in the near future and why?

I am curious about what languages are projected to "die off" in the near future, say within 10, 50, or 100 years from now. My questions in particular: What and where are these languages exactly? ...
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1answer
144 views

Are there creoles of three languages?

Are there examples of creole languages that have had three or more other languages as parents without intermediate two-language creoles? If they exist, then how high is the 'or more', i.e. what is the ...
13
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288 views

Is it possible to predict language changes?

The comparative method is used to reconstruct unattested languages from the attested ones. By comparing different sounds for the same words in various sister languages, it is possible to infer some ...
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1answer
248 views

What is the evidence of the typological cycle theory?

There is a theory that languages move from one morphological typology (isolating, inflected, agglutinating) to the next in a usual, predictable cycle. What evidence is proposed to support this ...
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586 views

French conjugation, spoken vs written

French verbs are conjugated depending on the subject's person and number (ex. je parle, tu parles, il parle, etc.) However in spoken language most of these sound the same anyway because the end part ...