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

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1answer
56 views

How do people know the meaning of new rhyming slang?

From the Wikipedia article on Rhyming Slang: One example is replacing the word "stairs" with the rhyming phrase "apples and pears". Following the pattern of omission, "and pears" is dropped, thus ...
0
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1answer
40 views

Accents and dialects

How are dialects formed? Are they always a diverging branch from the main language or can they be the fruit of a converging process between different languages because of cultural pressure? Also, ...
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2answers
49 views

Culture and language [closed]

Could you give some examples of how cultures affect languages? It is comprehensible that languages reflect cultures. It would be really helpful if you could provide with at least an example of ...
0
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2answers
71 views

Slip of the meaning of expressions

Numerous expressions get their (popular) meaning largely or totally changed with time. Sometime it is in one language and not the others. Sometimes changes go different ways (cf. formidable or ...
5
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2answers
63 views

Does standardisation restrain naturally occurring grammar change?

Is change hindered by mass education of grammar rules and idiomatic writing, publishing of lexicons, standardization, etc? Is the only manner in which english is allowed to evolve, as things stand ...
2
votes
1answer
91 views

Have the Spanish tenses stopped evolving?

I suspect that evolution of Spanish tenses stopped, while being in the middle of replacement of conjugated tenses by compound tenses. In some scenarios compound tense was adopted, in some other cases ...
1
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0answers
20 views

Word ageing: what reliable bibliographical references can be recommended?

I have encountered the notion of "word ageing". Lexemes (unless and until replaced through internal or external innovation) grow older and older, and with time they tend to (1) acquire some additional ...
2
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0answers
54 views

What is the difference between grammaticalization and grammaticization?

I have encountered two terms recently: grammaticalization and grammaticisation. While in most papers I have read so far both terms seem to be used interchangeably, the following paper appears to ...
7
votes
2answers
207 views

Are American English and British English growing closer together or drifting further apart?

I'm mostly wondering about vocabulary (e.g. truck vs. lorry; apartment vs. flat) but I suppose I'd be interested to learn about pronunciation too. Intuitively I feel like this could go either way. ...
2
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3answers
135 views

Does changing the writing system for a language change the language?

Some languages change what writing system they use. For example, Old English used to use Anglo-Saxon runes but eventually used the Latin alphabet, and Mongolian in Mongolia uses the Mongolian Cyrillic ...
2
votes
1answer
61 views

What is the term for when a general term is used to refer to something specific?

Is there a name for the linguistic phenomenon in which a general term gains a much more specific meaning? For example, "Prohibition" is used to mean "Alcohol prohibition in the United States" or ...
1
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2answers
127 views

Is Chechen language close to Chinese?

If the both originate from Proto-Sino-Caucasian, then Chechen language should be close to Chinese. Is there any indication for this?
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3answers
75 views

Spelling Similarities in English and Spanish but not in Italian and Spanish

The spelling of the word 'admit' has a ⟨d⟩ in both English and the Spanish equivalent, admitir, but not in Italian ammettere. Why is the ⟨d⟩ absent in the Italian equivalent?
3
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1answer
83 views

Why is “och” (and) not spelled “og” in Swedish?

For example, here is the word for "I" in the Old Norse dialects. Old East Norse = Jak Old West Norse = Ek These words became, with a natural evolution, the following: Icelandic = Ég Faroese = Eg ...
2
votes
1answer
110 views

Globalized mass-media deterring language or dialects differentiation

I was wondering about how strong are the region-wide or country-wide mass-media institutions (be them newspapers or TV channels) as deterrent of language or dialects differentiation. For example, a ...
0
votes
1answer
83 views

Which two languages are the most unlike each other? [closed]

So, which two existing languages are the least like each other?
3
votes
2answers
88 views

Language characteristics only found in one language

I am looking for language characteristics only found in one single language. (Maybe that could shed some lights on language development, since that could be a starting point to investegate why these ...
10
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7answers
4k views

Is there a reason behind the phenomenon of English becoming more vulgar with time?

In the last few years I have noticed both with colleagues and from online discussions a tendency for English language writing and speech to become more and more vulgar. That is, I see explicatives ...
38
votes
13answers
10k views

Do unschooled people use cases correctly, e.g. in Germany and in Russia?

I wonder if the case system is devised/imposed by literates and not really natural: it is said that the vulgar Latin that most people really used didn't have e.g. the cases (or all of them) of the ...
5
votes
3answers
269 views

What is the most recent example of a language which has split from another and become non-mutually comprehensible?

I know linguists like to say "no languages are older or younger than other languages" because they all evolved from ancient roots. With exceptions such as Nicaraguan Sign Language. So let me explain ...
3
votes
1answer
72 views

Do certain features of a languages change faster on average ?

As for historical linguistics, it is about how features of language change. I stumpled upon here about people writing about grammaticalization, tonogenesis, transformation from one typology to the ...
8
votes
4answers
244 views

Are there documented languages that evolved from tonal to nontonal?

There is a theory about tonogenesis for the Chinese language, thus Chinese had once a more complex syllable-structure and no tones. In the course of time, the syllable structure became less complex ...
4
votes
3answers
142 views

Is there a trend toward more homophones over time? What can counteract that trend?

It is my understanding (correct me if I am wrong) that many homophones develop as a result of phonemic mergers. For instance, I, like many Americans, have a "cot-caught" merger where I do not make a ...
2
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0answers
61 views

“an” -> “a” When Describing a Noun With Adjectives

Observed in fluent speech: a unrounded vowel To a native English speaker, the following would be expected instead: an unrounded vowel What's happening here? It looks like the speaker is ...
5
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3answers
165 views

Has anyone attempted to simulate the creation/development of a language?

I suspect this is a dream confined to sci-fi for at least a few decades, but, I'd like to know if anyone has ever tried to create a computer model for the creation of a language, or at least ...
2
votes
1answer
121 views

Time annotated corpus: plain text english corpus

I am working on how entities take a new sense over time. I am trying to find out a large english corpus (free to download) which should have the time annotation of the origin of the text. I suppose ...
7
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2answers
337 views

Why has Paris French mostly lost the distinction between /e/ and /ɛ/?

Why has Paris French mostly lost the distinction between /e/ and /ɛ/? As in, the difference between 'Je le ferai' and 'Je le ferais', 'poignée' and 'poignet', or more simply between the é sound and ...
4
votes
3answers
272 views

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 ...
9
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3answers
330 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
96 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 ...
2
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2answers
163 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
87 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 ...
11
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1answer
1k views

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 ...
3
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2answers
116 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
114 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? ...
2
votes
0answers
138 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
4
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6answers
780 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 ...
3
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0answers
762 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 ...
4
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2answers
149 views

Did the Greek adverb for “late” evolve into a preposition meaning “after”?

The Greek work opse meant late in Homer. By the time of Philostratus (3rd c. A.D.) it sometimes had the meaning of too late. Of course, if someone arrives too late for an event, they arrive "after" ...
0
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2answers
88 views

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 ...
6
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0answers
301 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
229 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« ...
8
votes
4answers
897 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 ...
8
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1answer
215 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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0answers
162 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
267 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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5answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
272 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
589 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, ...