Questions tagged [language-change]

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

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Spurious Fs' spawning

As advised, I am posting a separate question, but I still think it is a better fit for linguistics (because of phonetics and phonology); feel free to migrate to latin SE. Famagusta is supposed to be a ...
George Ntoulos's user avatar
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Why onomasiological studies are less popular/frequent than semasiological ones?

When searching for research on semantic shift, it becomes apparent that the majority of studies concentrate on the semasiological perspective—how a word's meaning evolves over time. In contrast, the ...
estebarb's user avatar
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Is there any modern language that is currently shifting from one stage to the next in Jespersen's cycle?

Modern French seems to be going through the next stage in Jespersen's cycle, from Neg-V-Neg to V-Neg; i.e. Ce n'est pas toi to C'est pas toi. What else is shifting from one to the next?
JYC's user avatar
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Why in the world are French "Paul" and "Paule" distinguished by vowel openness?

Wikipedia lists Paul [pɔl] ('Paul', masculine), vs. Paule [pol] ('Paule', feminine), as a minimal pair of the two mid rounded back vowels of French. What I wonder is, how did it happen that the two ...
trerri's user avatar
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Does the concept of slang exist in cultures without established written or formal education traditions?

In English and, presumably, many of the world's other commonly spoken languages, there exists a rough category of words considered slang. This concept is not quite the same as taboo (many slang words ...
Graham H.'s user avatar
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Could the precursor to Pre-Proto-Quechua have been a monosyllabic tonal language?

So this has been intriguing me for years: In 'Perspectives on the Quechua-Aymara Contact Relationship and the Lexicon and Phonology of Pre-Proto-Aymara', Nicholas Emlen mentions, citing Adelaar (1986) ...
rcgy's user avatar
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How did the generic masculine emerge?

In an essay for school I recently claimed the generic masculine was caused by sexism, but my teacher complained that I hadn't given a reason for this. Assuming my hypothesis is correct, how did this ...
zvavybir's user avatar
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Is Linguistic Nihilism a legitimate philosophical/linguistic position?

By Linguistic Nihilism, a subcategory of Nihilism (the position that denies value/ability/meaning/etc.), I mean the position that ... There's A Problem: Any, all languages are inadequate for every ...
Agent Smith's user avatar
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73 views

has any language ever lost articles? [duplicate]

many languages have articles (words translating as "a" and "the"); at the same time many languages lack articles. are there any known cases of a language having articles but losing ...
noah johnson's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
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Why did older languages lose the informal "you" if modern languages are losing the formal "you"?

English and (I believe) Brazilian Portuguese have to varying degrees lost T-V distinction via adoption of the formal second-person pronoun for both formal and informal situations. English completely ...
TheEnvironmentalist's user avatar
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In English, can the use of a word change from formal to informal, or vice versa, while the meaning of the word remains the same?

Note: I have zero background in linguistics, so I do not know if my question is valid, and I am probably not going to use proper terminology. Thank you for reading. Here goes. Can the use of a word ...
Dan's user avatar
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Limits of historical linguistic reconstruction

It is a well-known and widely repeated fact that the linguistic reconstruction associated with the comparative method is no longer effective for large temporal depths (informally estimated to be ...
Davius's user avatar
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2 answers
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What is the term for the phenomenon where certain languages cannot describe certain concepts?

I am super-fascinated by the fact that English speakers cannot accurately describe how something smells and there are languages that can differentiate different shades of color that English speakers ...
Max's user avatar
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1 answer
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How do new dialects emerge?

When two communities live apart and communicate little with each other, over time some innovations tend to differentiate the respective linguistic varieties until two systematically distinguishable ...
Davius's user avatar
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Controlling for semantic shift/change in a dataset

I'm working on a project to ascertain a cohort's feelings (using a Likert scale) on different words relevant to that cohort. Individuals of the cohort are different ages, and the goal is to see if the ...
user3684314's user avatar
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On the change of word order as languages develop?

While I understand the most common changes in word order, the whole SOV can go to OSV, SVO, and OVS, and so forth. But I do not exactly understand how and why word order would change. Can you explain ...
Zoey's user avatar
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What are the processes and mechanisms that create homo(graphs/phones/semes)?

I suspect that homographs and homophones may arise as multiple words from different languages are brought into a language, winding up with the same graphemic and/or phonemic representation. The same ...
A. Kvåle's user avatar
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1 answer
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Why did some conquerors change the region's language and others didn't?

In history we see many examples where a conquered people ceased to speak their native language and began speaking the conqueror's language, and also many examples where conquering groups ceased to ...
roymend's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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How do new function words develop in a language?

It's very understandable how new content words emerge in a language, since we can see it happening constantly in the modern day. On the other hand, I have trouble imagining the process by which a word ...
Davis Yoshida's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
131 views

Is there a list of dead languages specifying the causes?

I am looking for a list, database, or encyclopedia of dead languages (better if it includes endangered ones) which specifies the causes wherby each of these languages died, or if the cause is unknown. ...
lfba's user avatar
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Do other languages have the same tendency as English to adopt many previously unrelated other words to mean "very good"?

I've noticed that English has many words for "very good" and most of them have an additional meaning as well. For example: great (more than normal) fantastic (fanciful) phenomenal (being a ...
T Hummus's user avatar
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2 answers
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Are some language features more resistant to change than others?

Languages change over time. I am wondering if there are certain features that are consistently more stable (i.e. changing more slowly) than others, and if yes, what are some examples? There are many ...
Szabolcs's user avatar
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Is there an instrument for measuring language vitality?

I currently am doing an anthropological research in a community where two languages are spoken. A community language X, which is the language historically spoken by the ancestors of that community, ...
lfba's user avatar
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Comparing two cognate lists, how do I determine validity?

A man created a list of 406 words, place and tribe names that he transcribed into English (Roman alphabet) and placed them side-by-side with ancient Hebrew names (that were likewise transcribed) to ...
Alfred's user avatar
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Was there a tendency of Indo-European languages to avoid syntactical ambiguity by introducing more complex morphology?

In (Peškovskij, 1914, p. 246) I stumbled upon the following (Russian) assertion: Opisannoe vytesnenie predikativnogo imenitel'nogo tvoritel'nym možno rassmatrivat' kak častnyj slučaj obščego ...
Damiaan Reijnaers's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
153 views

What is the name of the view that language is that which is used by people?

Some people believe that language should be managed or engineered. That is to say, new words should be created, wrong usages should be rectified, etc. On the contrary, some others believe that a ...
Sasan's user avatar
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Analysing the data from the study on Jocks and Burnouts by Eckert

I have a question for those who are familiar with the study by Eckert. I got stuck trying to analyze the table (the screenshot is attached). Do you know what "Input" and "Sig." ...
Lila's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
187 views

Distinction between Chemistry and Alchemy in Arabic and Farsi languages

According to Wikipedia, in Europe the semantic distinction between the rational science of chimia and the occult alchimia arose in the early 18th century. So it seems like there was a need to separate ...
ali's user avatar
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2 answers
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How to read sound change transcriptions? [closed]

https://chridd.nfshost.com/diachronica/ I don't understand what most of these transcriptions mean. I only know what #, #, and _x mean.
Sarāntairi's user avatar
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2 answers
233 views

What are the incentives for neologisms (new words)?

My best explanation of why new words come into existence is: Economy: a new word may allow you to say more with fewer words/syllables/characters (or in less time) Articulacy: a new word may allow you ...
stevec's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
553 views

What is a "conservative" language?

(1) Does aconservative language better preserve its roots? (for example, Romanian is said to have best preserved its Latin roots due to being geographically surrounded by countries with non-Romance ...
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0 votes
2 answers
142 views

Etymology of "fiamma" in Italian [duplicate]

I don't speak Italian at all, but I was a bit surprised that the word "flame" in Italian is "fiamma" (IPA: /ˈfjam.ma/) (to compare with flamme in French, flamma in Latin and llama ...
Firmin Martin's user avatar
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0 answers
121 views

Why can "however" be used independently, when "but" cannot?

According to Purdue OWL, there are two kinds of words that can be used as connectors at the beginning of independent clauses: coordinating conjunctions (so, yet, but, and) and independent marker words ...
Timothy Smith's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
598 views

I have read that in Mishnaic Hebrew, some pronounced the 6th letter as waw/w and some as vav/v What is the evidence of this?

I have read that in Mishnaic Hebrew, some pronounced the 6th letter as waw/w and some as vav/v What is the evidence of this? I see it mentioned here https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/%D7%95-vav-...
barlop's user avatar
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21 votes
1 answer
581 views

Are there any studies on some English passive verb constructions currently being replaced by new intransitive senses?

In the past couple of years I've noticed a new trend in younger generations of native English speakers, at least in American English and Australian English. But I can't find it discussed anywhere on ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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0 answers
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Historical development from adjective to concrete noun to more abstract noun

I'd really appreciate any knowledge or advice on further reading about the following. Excuse my naivete- I am at the start of this investigation. I'm studying an historical corpus and I have found a ...
John Regan's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
92 views

What's the name of the process in which a word acquires new meanings?

I am almost sure there is a proper name for that but I forgot. It would be the opposite of semantic bleaching...
Matt's user avatar
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12 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why do the same phonological changes happen in multiple unrelated languages?

For example, a lot of languages have a historical [y] sound which eventually merged with [i] in different language families. This happened in Greek, Vulgar Latin, Icelandic and Faroese as well as ...
Michael Tsang's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
2k views

When did Spanish develop perfect aspect?

Latin and many other Romance languages do not have perfect aspect, but Greek has perfect aspect and Iberia was a land for Ancient Greek colonies. So how and when Spanish integrates perfect aspect into ...
Houman's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
360 views

Is language change universal, ongoing, and arbitrary?

Learning that arbitrariness from Saussure means there is no logical connection between the sound of morpheme and its meaning. But can we brain storm about this topic a little bit? When it comes to ...
WinterSue's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
1k views

What does Eastern Aramaic have to say about "(definite) articles are acquired, not lost"?

The current answers on Definite/indefinite articles vs. inflections agree that (definite) articles are acquired by languages, not lost. I'm wondering what Eastern Aramaic has to say about this. ...
Keelan's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
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Is the emergence of a new quotative a syntactic innovation?

I am not sure on what level the emergence of a new quotative is classified. Is it syntax? My question concerns a variety of English. There are several quotatives commonly used in English, such as „...
roxanne's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
432 views

Are consonants more stable than vowels?

I was trying my hand at an exercise to distinguish the different Sámi dialects (the exercise was used in the 2020 version of the Dutch Linguistics Olympiad). It gives nine words in all nine dialects ...
Keelan's user avatar
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14 votes
2 answers
6k views

Why does Spanish tend to swap letters in words?

I can't remember the source, but I recall hearing that Spanish (my native tongue) tends to swap letters in words (accidentally). Examples Latin diabolo becomes diablo(o). (perhaps this is a non-...
Pedro's user avatar
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-2 votes
3 answers
499 views

Etymological Fallacy

What is actually wrong with using Etymology to infer a word's meaning? I mean other than semantics( or more subtle meaning, nuance) of what other use could studying etymology be. I cannot see the ...
George Ntoulos's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
264 views

When turned "to hear" into "to belong" in Germanic Languages?

In most Germanic languages the verbs for „to hear“ and „to belong [to]“ are the same or very closely related. It seems a plausible explanation, that in practice belonging to someone (G. gehören) meant ...
Hardtberger's user avatar
-1 votes
2 answers
182 views

How can a word for 'the act of Xing', semantically shift to mean 'the thing Xed'?

I don't grasp this Reddit comment. An example of (3) might be this (from a 15th-century will): I now the seid John Smyth, for diu[er]se causez and consyderacyonys shevyd vnto me, will ordeyne and ...
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4 votes
1 answer
1k views

Absense of cases in Bulgarian

Nowadays, Bulgarian and Macedonian are the only Slavic languages where the system of cases isn't developed. Bulgarian and Macedonian are very close to each other, but are considered to be 2 ...
Marie Mit's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
195 views

Which factors influence the linguistic conservatism of a language, and to what extent?

Presumably the number of speakers is a factor, as a language cannot change if nobody speaks it (is this even true in absolute?)1, but it does not necessarily follow that more speakers results in ...
Pikanchion's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
197 views

From Old French -iss into English -ish

I have read this information on the word perish: "mid-13c., from periss- present participle stem of Old French perir" And this comment is below a question of mine on English Language & Usage ...
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