Questions tagged [language-change]

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

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
67 votes
10 answers
17k views

Why did early Indo-European languages seem to be morphologically complex?

Apparently there is a general trend that languages lose morphological marking over time. For example, according to this question PIE had 8 noun cases (nominative, accusative, genitive, etc), Latin 5, ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
  • 8,481
41 votes
10 answers
4k views

Languages that are gaining morphological distinctions

In diachronic comparison of languages, say PIE to Latin to Romance, it is a classic recognition that the later languages strictly lose some of the morphologically marked categories. PIE had 8 noun ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 4,445
10 votes
4 answers
4k views

Is the Sanskrit spoken natively in pockets in India changing?

There are some small pockets in India where people actually speak Sanskrit as a native language. From Wikipedia: In these Indian villages, inhabitants of all castes speak Sanskrit natively since ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 14.6k
29 votes
4 answers
9k views

Why do English verbs inflect so little, especially in regard to "person"?

Most Indo-European languages have verbs which endings change according to the person. I made a table with the most common (and close) languages and focussed on the category of person and the present ...
Alenanno's user avatar
  • 9,368
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
  • 4,214
2 votes
2 answers
2k views

Language Change over Distance

I'm building a world where I'm tracking the languages and people throughout time. So I'm starting from a single point with a single language and then expanding that out as time progresses. My basic ...
Durakken's user avatar
  • 207
21 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
Otavio Macedo's user avatar
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
  • 301
12 votes
4 answers
3k views

French conjugation, spoken vs written

French verbs are conjugated depending on the subject's person and number (ex. je parle, tu parles, il parle, etc.) However in spoken language most of these sound the same anyway because the end part ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
  • 8,481
10 votes
2 answers
998 views

What is the evidence of the typological cycle theory?

There is a theory that languages move from one morphological typology (isolating, inflected, agglutinating) to the next in a usual, predictable cycle. What evidence is proposed to support this ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
  • 8,481
9 votes
4 answers
3k 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 ...
Jez's user avatar
  • 201
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
  • 14.6k
17 votes
1 answer
3k 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 ...
randomatlabuser's user avatar
16 votes
3 answers
986 views

What languages are expected to "die off" in the near future and why?

I am curious about what languages are projected to "die off" in the near future, say within 10, 50, or 100 years from now. My questions in particular: What and where are these languages exactly? ...
DuckMaestro's user avatar
14 votes
7 answers
9k 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 ...
Nick Anderegg's user avatar
13 votes
4 answers
3k 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 ...
TKR's user avatar
  • 10.9k
10 votes
1 answer
448 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 ...
marta's user avatar
  • 101
10 votes
1 answer
930 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 ...
blackcurrant's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
482 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” ...
ˈvʀ̩ʦl̩ˌpʀm̩ft's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

Is there a term for the theory that languages move from one morphological typology to the next in a fixed cycle?

There is a well known theory, widely accepted that as languages evolve their morphological typology changes through the same usual steps. The major steps are I think isolating or analytic, inflected, ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 14.6k
6 votes
1 answer
3k 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 ...
JohnJamesSmith's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
778 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 ...
user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
525 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 ...
user173361's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
218 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? ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 14.6k
5 votes
2 answers
2k 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 / ...
alcas's user avatar
  • 487
4 votes
1 answer
528 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 ...
user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
5k views

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 ...
Puneet Jindal's user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
414 views

Do Germanic words have Romance qualities and vice-versa?

I know English was heavily influenced by French. But were there any other instances during which a Germanic language obtained Romance qualities or a Romance language with Germanic qualities?
Epicus's user avatar
  • 39
3 votes
2 answers
271 views

Is the English "because (noun)" an instance of grammaticalization?

This structure is often used recently (I think since mid-2012) in a sarcastic or humorous way, or to indicate that the reasoning is not sound. a) “Ok, I really want to hang with her because ...
Matt's user avatar
  • 313