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

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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 ...
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37 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 ...
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3answers
129 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 ...
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1answer
40 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 ...
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2answers
160 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 ...
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3answers
155 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 ...
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90 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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1answer
85 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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140 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
81 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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310 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 ...
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2answers
101 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
85 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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115 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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3answers
1k 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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5answers
344 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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414 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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127 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" ...
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2answers
83 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 ...
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223 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
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3answers
187 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« ...
6
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1answer
541 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
204 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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93 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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2answers
240 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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1k 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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1answer
204 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 ...
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1answer
344 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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107 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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2answers
323 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 / ...
3
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1answer
314 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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0answers
633 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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2answers
572 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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1answer
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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3answers
307 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 ...
9
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1answer
253 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 ...
7
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1answer
544 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
902 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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1answer
368 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 ...
7
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1answer
413 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 ...
4
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1answer
300 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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362 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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2answers
167 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 ...
12
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2answers
771 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 ...
12
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1answer
232 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 ...
6
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1answer
265 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 ...
9
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2answers
273 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
15k 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 ...
15
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1answer
376 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
318 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? ...