Questions tagged [language-change]

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

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1answer
48 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 ...
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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. ...
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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 „...
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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 ...
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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-...
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201 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 ...
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1answer
180 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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
235 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 ...
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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 ...
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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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3answers
344 views

Does a polyglot think in every language he speaks or only in the mother-tongue?

some teachers say if you want to speak English , think in English.Since language and thought are different as is evident from the answers to the question* Are language and thought the same?*how can ...
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987 views

Why can linguists decide which use of language is correct and which is not?

Often we are hearing that such-and-such spelling, phraseology, etc is incorrect. Person X made a grammar error, pronunciation error, orthography error, styling error, other sorts of language error. I'...
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1answer
110 views

Does the study of linguistics help one to be a good speaker and good writer of languages?

Linguistics is the systematic study of languages. Some people say "What chemistry is to medicine, linguistics is to language." It is a fact that linguistics helps one to study languages ...
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548 views

Minimum population for language survival

What is the minimum population required to keep a language alive?
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2k views

How do accents of a whole town drift?

I've heard it said that accents of towns drift over time. I find this hard to comprehend as how could an accent of a whole town change? I think it is established that we mainly pick up our accent ...
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202 views

On an apparent “ masstermization” phenomenon in contemporary informal French: “ il y a de la jolie nana par ici”

I have noticed a tendency to " masstermize" nouns in contemporary informal French, I mean to use nouns as mass terms ( uncountable), though they cannot be strictly used in this way. What I call " ...
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2answers
126 views

Why do words like thence fall out of use?

It happens sometimes that rather useful words disappear. A word like thence, for example, is very useful, and has to be replaced if it is taken out of the language by something less concise (and less ...
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Is linguistic change pushed by humor?

Through "meme culture," young people are inventing all sorts of new linguistic constructions purely because they think they sound funny. The interesting thing is that these jokes don't end at a ...
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111 views

Do grammatically close languages tend to begin to use literal translations of some words in other senses in that other language?

Let's have an English phrase "let's have" and the Czech equivalent "mějme". Perhaps, at some point in the past, someone was translating a math textbook and didn't know how to translate "let's have" in ...
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371 views

Plural form as respect form - based on what?

Many languages use the plural as respected mood for a singular (even English use "you" which is basically a plural form of thu). Now my question is: based on what those who started to speak in ...
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131 views

How did the complexities of Arabic cardinals arise?

Generally the grammar related to the numbers in Arabic is considered to be the most complicated thing about the language. In fact, it is considered so complicated that many teachers argue that not ...
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167 views

How do you call a languages tendency to adopt foreign words rather than translate them to their language?

One difference between Mandarin Chinese and Japanese is that the former likes to translate foreign terms, while Japanese prefers to transcribe them to Japanese. E.g. Basketball: Mandarin Chinese: 篮球 (...
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570 views

Are there established linguistic theories which incorporate the concept of “lazy speech”?

Motivation So on EL&U, I pretty often encounter the claim, under a question of some usage or other, that certain usages are the consequence of "lazy speakers", who "would otherwise" use some (...
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In “internet Linguistics” theory, does David Crystal include sociolinguistic patterns as affecting language changes?

I'm going to discuss language changes among social sites. I'm using internet linguistics as a theoretical framework, but one of my questions related to social aspect-gender... internet linguistics ...
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1answer
226 views

Differences among Chinese, Tibetan, and Burmese

Is there any research or explanation for the (grammatical, typological) differences among Chinese, Tibetan, and Burmese? I am thinking of the fact that Chinese is classed as an Analytic, SVO language,...
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1answer
103 views

Are names of dishes more prone to name change due to power / language shift?

I am wondering whether names of dishes are generally more prone to change when a power or language shift occurs in a society? Particularly, I am thinking of the Egyptian cuisine and the current ...
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Why did the pronunciation of the rhotic phoneme /r/ change after the 2ndWW in public speech?

For example why did radio presenters roll the r on the BBC before the war and not after? Why did Brecht roll the r extensively? Why did Hitler roll the r extensively? My perspective is from the ...
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225 views

Which languages have absorbed the most vocabulary from Russian, and which languages have influenced its vocabulary?

I'm a student of formal linguistics and Russian language, my question has been surprisingly hard to google -- I've studied a little Ukrainian, and I've read that its structurally similar to Russian ...
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2answers
2k views

Julius Caesar original name spelling?

Was Julius Caesar originally spelled with and I before "J" was invented? Or was it spelled some other way? If so, how? I'm curious.
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Is there a formal term for when a word begins to be used in a broader sense than the original sense?

For example: "aggressive recruitment", "aggressive cleaning" or "more aggressive guidelines".
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83 views

Impact of European languages on AmE modality and grammatical moods

American English Use subjunctive more than British English and also they heavily use modal verb "would". Grammatical moods like subjunctive in many European languages like German and Spanish are ...
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2answers
180 views

Are modern chuch Latin and classical Latin different languages?

From a (probably now-deleted comment) elsewhere on SE: [Church Latin and Classical Latin] are more or less the same languages. Some new words were added and the pronunciation changed over the years,...
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Are languages converging in the modern era?

I know this question sounds vague, and there may not be much evidence yet, but I suspect it is falsifiable. The question is, in the modern era (post European imperialism, in particular post-mass-media ...
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613 views

Have we observed classes changing from open to closed, or vice versa?

Classes of words in languages tend to be either "open" (accepting new members readily) or "closed" (rejecting new members). This distinction is fairly easy to see: compare how readily English accepted ...
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Can learning a new language help with speech impairment?

I'm not a linguist, but i can see the connection between speech impairment and language learning. I'm only asking because I have a slight speech impairment myself (unable to pronounce guttural sounds ...
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Terminology for a phrase that changes meaning over time within a closed community

I am looking for the linguistic terminology for the phenomenon of semantic change in a discourse within a closed community. This closed community could be a couple, a company etc. For example, ...
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331 views

How are proto-languages dated?

This is something I've been thinking about lately. You look up any reconstructed proto-language, you'll probably find an estimate as to when it was spoken. But how can this number be determined? From ...
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705 views

Feminisation of men's language?

I was wondering whether there has been (generally) a feminisation of "men's language". Lakoff's claims in "women's and men's language" are almost half a century old and there have been contradictory ...
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1answer
370 views

Listing the historical change between two languages (phonology)

I have been asked to list the historical change from one language to another, using a list comparing words between the languages. I need to order the rules in chronological order, and knowledge of ...
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Is this what English/Mandarin Chinese or other 21st century dominant langauges would eventually do too? (details below)(yup that's opinion based) [closed]

Umbrians, for example, continued to make inscriptions in their language for centuries after Roman annexation. But eventually the power and status of Latin prevailed, particularly after all residents ...
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48 views

Metrics for word stability?

I'm trying to create a static list of words that can be used for encoding large numbers. The words are selected on a variety of factors and I would like to include a measure of the word's stability ...
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1answer
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What is it called when a word is used based on an extant definition which no longer actually applies? e.g. “dial” with phones

It was difficult to phrase what I mean in an accurate and precise way here. This is similar to a fossil word, but fossil words are words which have fallen out of general use except where they are ...
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Morphology vs Etymology

Morphology is the component of grammar that builds words out of units of meaning(morphemes) where a morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of language. Etymology is the study of the origin of words ...
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184 views

Do children's mispronunciations influence the development of a language?

Having read this question about how alternative names develop for a given name (Bill for William, Peggy for Margaret etc.) It seemed reasonable to me to assume that at least some of these develop due ...
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192 views

Have modern languages slowed down or even stopped from language change?

The question points in the future and so I see the problem of having evidence but an educated guess or quotations of linguists would do, I guess. It is no secret any longer, though some nationalist ...
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1answer
261 views

How do contronyms (aka auto-antonyms) arise?

Contronyms are words that are their own antonyms. For example: Sanction can mean to penalize for or approve of. Off can mean activated(the alarm went off) or deactivated. (Additional examples) ...
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Is there a name for the process of triviliazation of a word's meaning?

What is the name for the process by which a word's meaning is trivialized or diminished in importance from its original meaning? For example, the standard English word throne means a toilet in English ...
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1answer
191 views

Difference between languages related a long time ago and unrelated ones

Would there be a theoretical way to distinguish between two related languages which diverged a long time ago, like tens of thousands years, and two totally unrelated languages, say, created ...
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4answers
188 views

Interesting exemplary cases where natural/political boundaries have led to language divergence

I'm looking for nice examples of the influence of natural or political boundaries to dialect divergence for introductory purposes. Generally through some limitations on the ability of people to ...