Questions tagged [language-change]

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

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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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105 views

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 ...
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103 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. ...
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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 ...
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155 views

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 ...
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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, ...
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69 views

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 ...
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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 ...
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104 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 ...
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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." ...
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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 ...
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132 views

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.
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191 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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119 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 ...
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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 ...
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362 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-...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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79 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...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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280 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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111 views

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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186 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 ...
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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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360 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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211 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 ordeyne and ...
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603 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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137 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 ...
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167 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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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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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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241 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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695 views

Minimum population for language survival

What is the minimum population required to keep a language alive?
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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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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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246 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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311 views

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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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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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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159 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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190 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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786 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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231 views

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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546 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,...