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Thread: Why do languages change?

  1. #41
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    Re: Why do languages change?

    I'm a complete layman, but I believe the media and the ubiquity of English are changing languages today. I can hear phonetical adaptation (?) in Germans using English loan words: the short "a" in "happy" makes it "heppy" and "tough" becomes the German reality show "Taff" (actually written this way, since the orthography of tough would just stagger German minds). Wherever a people come into contact with another language, surely there will be sounds that don't exist in their own language and will be replaced by a phoneme they can pronounce. Given time you have your change. It isn't laziness (hey, I can't say the flat "a" so I'll change it). The Germans I talk to often can't hear the difference between "flash" and "flesh".

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank06 View Post
    This thread is on why languages change, not on how they change.
    Yes, why indeed?
    there's definitely no simple answer to that question, and there won't be - ever (that's my opinion, of course - no scientific axiom ;-)
    however, some reasons have been established by linguists, and I might add, none of them (I'd say) is undisputed (meaning: there's never one single reason, there always are more - it's not as easy as that):
    beforehand: I would like to differentiate between simple 'forces' of change (meaning: factors involved in language change) and 'reasons' for change (meaning: the factors = forces responsible for change taking place at all):

    - simplification: yes, it plays its role, simplification in the grammatical sense, but it is not so easy that one could say simplification goes towards isolating languages (such as English and Persian), simplification can also lead towards inflection, meaning linguists all over the world haggle over which would be the most 'simplistic' structure, and if you ask for my opinion, then simplification ist just a force but hardly the reason (the latter it may be in certain conditions, but this is not the rule, e. g. English with mixed population of Anglo-Saxons and Normans: in this case, one might (!) argue that simplification was more a reason for change rather than only a force)

    - sociological and economical reasons: our social context changes (formerly tribal, newly industrial society: a huge difference which will result in language changes, no matter how hard you try to retain the 'old' language: social divisions form which didn't exist previously, you need to use new terms for new things in the real world, you mix with other peoples from other regions, etc): this, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons for language change, but of course I am a sociolinguist and supposed to say something like that ;-) (my opinion would surely be challenged by structuralists and followers of the school of generative grammar: they most likely would accept that these factors are a force of change but might challenge for me saying they're the main reason)

    - political reasons: yes, of course there was (and is) language planning, and of course it did affect the change of languages hugely, in one very popular case a dead language even was revived, successfully so (I'll let you guess ;-) and I don't mean Celtic Irish as one might dispute it's successfull revival); but again, this (for me) is only a force of change and not the main reason, because as I see the world, language politics is only an institutionalised form of sociological and economical change and as such part of the former point, although different from it

    - language contacts: might be subsumed under sociological & economical reasons, surely they're important for language change, no one would dispute that, but again I would say it's only a force - not (necessarily) the reason, there are examples in history where two coexisting languages hardly did interfere one another until (until!) there was sociological change

    - child speech: again, incorrect or incomplete language acquisition of language through children really is not the reason for change - on the one hand, language acquisition is not fully accomplished at the age of 15 (far from it!), on the other hand, children only talk differently from their parents when grown up if (and only if!) there was sociological/economical change, in my opinion (again, wouldn't go undisputed, I should add); sometimes, the parents themselves are responsible for children speaking differently because they'd prefer their children speeking a higher valued accent and so try to speak to them only in this accent, or alternatively send them to a school where they hope they'll learn an accent of the (higher) middle classes, as is the case in England and America (I think).
    So again, this would more fit into sociological & economical reasons - as there are lots of examples where (in unchanging - or better: very stable sociological conditions) language change did not occur (Islandic being a good example ...)

    - language as social identity is of course a very important factor but again could be subsumed under sociological conditions: this is what sociolinguistics really is about ;-) - and this is not only about national and ethnic identity but about peer groups too


    So, basically, in my opinion (with all the facettes which are to them), there are two main positions:

    - language change is due to simplification in the generative grammar sense
    - language change is due to sociological and economical change, this being the sociolinguistic position

    Of course, this dispute under linguists is NOT about denying that sociological change does not play it's part or, on the other hand, simplification in the generative sense would not be important - the dispute is one about establishing priorities - about what's most important, what's the reason behind change, what is the main force; and most likely this dispute never will be resolved (otherwise, what would be a linguists job if there weren't any riddles to solve any more .

    And the important thing to remember and to keep in mind, concerning language change, always will be: there is more than .
    Last edited by Frank06; 25th November 2007 at 3:12 PM. Reason: EHL Rule #6: Mind your capitals and interpunction, please.

  3. #43
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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Simplification as a force of change is quite well documented and not disputed under linguists - the question is only which role it plays, meaning if simplification were the one thing which drives speakers change their language. Meaning: is simplification the reason for change (rather than element of change).

    Simplification, for example, very frequently happens with conjugation of verbs or declension of substantives. But if children simplify conjugation or declension (and everyone exposed to childs talk knows that this will happen frequently) then they will be corrected by parents and teachers - implicitly through their example or explicitely, too. This too happens (did happen) in cultures without scripts: children will learn the correct use of their language eventually.
    Such examples might be German wrong *gehte instead of correct ging: the former would be 'easier' grammatically as formed regularly, the latter is an irregularity.

    Nevertheless, the change of ging into gehte would not take place unless there's a change of attitude towards language which might have several reasons: for example, migration of people with a foreign mother tongue which do not acquire the language correctly. Or a foreign rule of a group speaking another language - for the latter, Norman rule in England is an excellent example; most of English declination and conjugation got lost during the Norman rule: before we had a recognisable Germanic language called Anglo-Saxon, afterwards we had an English language which really neither was Germanic any more, nor did it develop into a Romanic language.

    So, change to simplicity is really well documented. Thing is, in my opinion this only is responsible for minor changes, except if exterior reasons (be they sociological, political or economical) allow them to have a greater impact on a language.

    This, of course, is my personal point of view.

    As for how more 'difficult' structures ever could evolve, if change were to go towards simplicity always, this question would have to be answered by someone of the Generative Grammar wing.
    Reason this is difficult to explain is that 'simplicity' isn't such a simple principle as most people would think. Simplicity too can be an inflecting system - it simplifies addressing of distinct persons if talking in a group, whereas in a language like English you will have to follow other rules to achieve the same thing, and oftentimes you will need context to know at all which pearson is meant in an English text, or if this person is a 'she' or a 'he'. Simplicity, in my point of view, never could be described in a pure structural way - the cultural context should be taken into account, too.

    And then, of course, there are some ways to get diversity through simplification, also very well documented, here an example from Austrian dialects:
    - the relative pronoun 'den' is not inflexed in German
    - in Austrian dialects the personal pronoun 2nd person might be merged with the relative pronoun, and this (of course) still wouldn't be inflexion but just a merger
    - however, the other persons too tend to get merged more and more with 'den', and one might even postulate that inflexion already exists, examples (the letters after the hyphen indicating the short form of personal pronoun; in square brackets I indicate the form the personal pronoun has usually, there's a difference not represented here in script in the quality of vowels, too):
    1st [i]: der, den-i maan (= the one (person) that I mean)
    2nd [du]: der, den-st maanst (= the one that YOU mean)
    3rd [er]: der, den-a maant (= the one HE means)
    3rd [sie]: der, den-s maant (= the one SHE means)
    1st pl. [mia]: der, dem-ma maanan (= the one WE mean; den>dem is just assimilation and has nothing whatsoever to do with a change of forms)
    2nd pl. [es]: der, den-ts maants (= the one THEY mean)
    3rd pl. [se]: der, den-s maanan (= the one THEY mean)
    As you see, both forms in the 2nd person would support the theory of a new inflexion system developing, whereas the others very easily could be described as simple mergers, too.

    Things like this one might be a starting point for a change towards more simplicity insofar as it would be easier to address persons correctly and unambigously. However, this is (yet) not the case as you cannot use the same inflexion with all relative pronouns (or can one? I'm asking myself now ... I have to confess, I'm not quite sure).

    However, this is - i fear - drifting off into off topic already. So I'll stop here to see if the moderators will have any objections ...

    Cheers, Herman

  4. #44
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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Obviously I do not deny that if in a given language nouns lose their inflections that that is a simplification of the way that language treats nouns. However, the loss of inflection will be replaced by a new rule of syntax e.g. that the subject of a sentence must precede the object. Over all, the amount of complexity is the same. There is in fact a theory that language change is cyclical, rather than linear: isolating > agglutinating > fusional > isolating and so on. No one stage is more complex or "advanced" than any other, so language does not evolve in any Darwinian sense.

    The reason that inflections may be lost is because they are not stressed. A typical French verb shows this:

    1.j'aime
    2.tu aimes
    3.il aime
    4.nous aimons
    5.vous aimez
    6.ils aiment

    In spoken French, 1,2,3 and 6 are all pronounced the same.

    The Latin form of this verb is:

    1.amo
    2.amas
    3.amat
    4.amamus
    5.amatis
    6.amant

    In Latin, the stress generally fell on the penultimate syllable, so that in 1,2,3 and 6 the stem would be stressed, whilst in 4 and 5 the ending would be stressed. In the early stages of French this stress pattern continued and that explains why the endings for 4 and 5 are retained, though they have been shortened.

    Also, in French subject pronouns became compulsory. Since the subject was expressed by the pronoun, the ending became unnecessary.

    The lack of stress and the compulsory use of subject pronouns both contributed to the loss of inflexion.

    In fact, in French, some of the subject pronouns cannot exist except in the presence of a verb so there is an argument that subject pronouns in French should be regarded as clitics, which is a sort of halfway house between a separate word and an inflexion. It is only the convention of writing that requires us to write tu aimes rather then tuaimes (and indeed aimons rather than aim ons).

    I suggested in another thread that if French were a language spoken by a tribe lost in a jungle and there were no other surviving Romance languages or records of Latin, a linguist discovering it would describe some aspects of it in a way that would make it appear more complex than we perceive it to be today, or rather, since I am arguing that no one language is more complex than another, that it was complex in different ways.
    Last edited by Hulalessar; 27th November 2007 at 12:07 AM.

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by sokol View Post
    Nevertheless, the change of ging into gehte would not take place unless there's a change of attitude towards language which might have several reasons: for example, migration of people with a foreign mother tongue which do not acquire the language correctly. Or a foreign rule of a group speaking another language - for the latter, Norman rule in England is an excellent example; most of English declination and conjugation got lost during the Norman rule: before we had a recognisable Germanic language called Anglo-Saxon, afterwards we had an English language which really neither was Germanic any more, nor did it develop into a Romanic language.
    Actually, it's far from certain that the Norman rule in England had any significant influence on the loss of Old English inflections. Such theories are dubious at best. One can easily find numerous examples where synthetic languages stubbornly retained their complicated morphologies through much longer periods of far more severe and heavy-handed foreign domination (for example, just about any Slavic or Baltic language). One can also find examples of languages that passed through morphological simplifications comparable to English without any remarkable foreign influences (for example, the Scandinavian languages). Besides, if I'm not mistaken, there is strong evidence that the erosion of Old English inflections was already long underway when the Normans came.

    Otherwise, very interesting post!
    Last edited by Athaulf; 27th November 2007 at 4:18 AM.

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by Athaulf View Post
    One can easily find numerous examples where synthetic languages stubbornly retained their complicated morphologies
    Why should the retention of complicated morphologies be regarded as stubborn?

  7. #47
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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hulalessar View Post
    Obviously I do not deny that if in a given language nouns lose their inflections that that is a simplification of the way that language treats nouns. However, the loss of inflection will be replaced by a new rule of syntax e.g. that the subject of a sentence must precede the object. Over all, the amount of complexity is the same. There is in fact a theory that language change is cyclical, rather than linear: isolating > agglutinating > fusional > isolating and so on.
    This, of course, is true.
    As for simplicity, or complexity: English most certainly is far from being a 'simple' language; it's just that most English speakers are very tolerant if spoken to in uncorrect or heavily accented English, as long as they do understand the basic meaning. This, and the fact of the overwhelming presence of English in our (Western) lives gives us nothing more but the impression that the nowadays isolating English language would be oh so simple.

    Point is, there is not only a force to simplify language, but another one to diversify, too - in English, diversification almost demands expanding the lexicon, whereas in heavily inflecting languages quite a lot can be done with morphology.
    I repeat, or rather, for the first time declare clearly that I am not a follower of the theory that change always will follow the way to more simplicity, and that change of languages should be explained through simplicity; rather, I'm of the opposite persuasion, meaning language change should be explained sociological.

    I am a sociolinguist, okay? Hope you don't think less of me after this explicit coming-out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Athaulf View Post
    Actually, it's far from certain that the Norman rule in England had any significant influence on the loss of Old English inflections.
    No, it isn't, but we know that Anglosaxon was much more 'Germanic' before the Norman invasion, and as at the beginning of the Normal rule French and Latin did replace Anglosaxon for a while we don't have an awful lot of written Anglosaxon texts from this (for the change about to happen) critical period.
    And we know for sure that, after Anglosaxon slowly began to reemerge as written language, it was significantly changed, loss of inflection not being the only influence but heavy borrowing from French (and Latin) too. In linguistics, we deal with probabilities rather than certainties, and in this case, there really is a strong probability that the Norman rule was the main factor for change.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hulalessar View Post
    One can easily find numerous examples where synthetic languages stubbornly retained their complicated morphologies through much longer periods of far more severe and heavy-handed foreign domination (for example, just about any Slavic or Baltic language).
    Nevertheless, there were great changes in the Slavic languages after their life changed from the more tribal social structure to feudalism and especially after their territory became fragmented in the process.

    Besides the usual kinds of changes (simplification of paradigms of conjugation and declension, phonetical assimilations and so on), there were huge simplifications concerning tempus (with Bulgarian still retaining most of it - while omitting most of the Slavic inflection - whereas Western and Northern Slavic has abandoned imperfect and aorist, while in Slovenian only the Resia valley dialects in Friuli, Italy retain rests of imperfect and in Croatian & Serbian imperfect alive at least in some regions as spoken form, I think, but aorist only written, if I'm right: you would know more about that one.)

    There certainly were great changes in Slavonic languages since the Medieval age (so during a few hundred years), while grammar and morphology between Indoeuropean roots (might have been around 3.000 B.C. or even earlier - we do not know for sure, and most likely never will) and Common Slavic (of, say, 500-800 A.D.) remained mainly intact.

    Besides, if I'm not mistaken, there is strong evidence that the erosion of Old English inflections was already long underway when the Normans came.

    [EDIT: seems I did refer this quote to Huleassar by mistake, but I can't find the original post any more - I'll let it stand as usually quoted anyway in order to retain the logic of the answer]

    I am no specialist for Old English, so I can neither dispute nor confirm this. I can only say that I think that changes would have taken place anyway - even if William the Conqueror never would have conquered. But I think they would have been more like in Scandinavian languages, or German for that matter. German certainly is no isolating language (not yet ;-), whereas English most certainly is (only very little inflection left).

    Back to ... what does this add to the question of language change?

    Nothing, really, because although we know that change happens, and although we can confirm this with our daily experience and numerous examples from the past, we still only can put probabilities as to why they change.

    In my opinion, as stressed out already several times, language change happens mainly because of socio-economical (and thus political) change - in my opinion this is what is triggering language change.
    And in my opinion, the argument of change being forced upon it's speakers by following simplicity rules would not describe correctly (or fully) what is happening when languages actually do change.

    But proof I cannot offer.
    Last edited by sokol; 28th November 2007 at 5:18 PM. Reason: change of quote reference

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by sokol View Post
    No, it isn't, but we know that Anglosaxon was much more 'Germanic' before the Norman invasion, and as at the beginning of the Normal rule French and Latin did replace Anglosaxon for a while we don't have an awful lot of written Anglosaxon texts from this (for the change about to happen) critical period.
    And we know for sure that, after Anglosaxon slowly began to reemerge as written language, it was significantly changed, loss of inflection not being the only influence but heavy borrowing from French (and Latin) too. In linguistics, we deal with probabilities rather than certainties, and in this case, there really is a strong probability that the Norman rule was the main factor for change.
    It was actually more complicated than that. Old English used in writing at the time right before the Norman Conquest was pretty archaic even for its own time. It kept various inflections that had already disappeared from the spoken language, kind of like written French does with verbs nowadays (this is well attested from some extant pre-Conquest writings in the vernacular, for example the mid-11th century Kirkdale sundial). When a serious Middle English literary tradition started emerging, the contrast with OE was amplified by this fact, because ME was written in (more or less) the vernacular of the time. Thus, while the loss of OE inflections was relatively rapid, it doesn't really coincide with the Norman rule so nicely as one might think from your above paragraph. There is no hard evidence that the years after 1066 were any more critical for the English language change than the century or two before that.

    In fact, from what I've read on the topic, it seems to me like there is somewhat (thought not much) more support for the idea that the loss of OE inflections was caused by the contact with Old Norse during the Viking invasions, rather than French during the Norman rule.

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by Athaulf View Post
    In fact, from what I've read on the topic, it seems to me like there is somewhat (thought not much) more support for the idea that the loss of OE inflections was caused by the contact with Old Norse during the Viking invasions, rather than French during the Norman rule.
    I think the theory goes something like this:

    OE and ON had a degree of mutual intelligibilty, but not to the extent that speakers would necessarily know what case a noun was in or what form a verb took. They therefore took to simplification on the assumption that the endings served little purpose. This lead to a levelling out and something approaching a mixed language.

    That may have been a factor. I do not think that there is any one simple explanation for language change. It just seems to be a characteristic of language that it changes.

    There are two opposing theories. In their extreme forms one says that change happens spontaneously in a community and the other that it happens only once at a particular time and place. Both seem unlikely, but if they are both unlikely, is any position between the two tenable?

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Everything changes...why languages should be an exception?

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by avok View Post
    Everything changes...why languages should be an exception?
    If language is one important feature of human mind and since mankind has not changed--at least physiologically--in the last hundred thousand years, then why did language undergo so wildly changes in the meanwhile?

    Hmm. Now I wonder if nutrition or weather conditions have anything to do with human language? Or maybe mankind did undergo physiological/anatomical changes through the years, and thus so did language? Or perhaps language has nothing to do with human physiology/anatomy, as if it changed just for the sake of changing?
    Last edited by uchi.m; 29th November 2007 at 2:18 AM. Reason: brushing up English

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by uchi.m View Post
    If language is one important feature of human mind and since mankind has not changed--at least physiologically--in the last hundred thousand years, then why did language undergo so wildly changes in the meanwhile?

    Hmm. Now I wonder if nutrition or weather conditions have anything to do with human language? Or maybe mankind did undergo physiological changes through the years, and thus so did language? Or perhaps language has nothing to do with human physiology, as if it changed just for the sake of changing?
    There was language and there still is language - nothing has changed. Suggesting physiological reasons baffles me - if what you say is true then why would langage change from Germany into France and on into Spain? Why would you have mutually unintelligible dialects of Chinese between people of the same race? I can hear a different accent of Londoners in films from the 60s from that of now - are Londoners of today physiologically different from their parents?
    ‘If a chap can’t compose an epic poem while he is weaving a tapestry, he had better shut up.' William Morris.

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by timpeac View Post
    There was language and there still is language - nothing has changed. Suggesting physiological reasons baffles me - if what you say is true then why would language change from Germany into France and on into Spain? Why would you have mutually unintelligible dialects of Chinese between people of the same race?
    Perhaps I did not make myself clear. What I was trying to ask is:
    Has mankind (= Homo sapiens sapiens) always been the same? If so, then why languages have not? Do languages change just for the sake of changing? Why, then?
    Quote Originally Posted by timpeac View Post
    I can hear a different accent of Londoners in films from the 60s from that of now - are Londoners of today physiologically different from their parents?
    You never know--and that is the very mystery of natural selection. In the long run, many slight physiological/anatomical changes that occur from generation to generation may build up and yield a new human species---or, as it is at stake here, maybe a new language.

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by uchi.m View Post
    Perhaps I did not make myself clear. What I was trying to ask is:
    Has mankind (= Homo sapiens sapiens) always been the same? If so, then why languages have not? Do languages change just for the sake of changing? Why, then?
    We have historical evidence about human languages reaching only a few thousand years into the past, and even speculative reconstructions of ancient languages don't reach much further back, if they do at all. Thus, everything we know about language change has happened within a period far shorter than the time scales necessary for evolution to operate, and we have no idea about what happened before that.

    On the other hand, there are countless documented examples of languages changing profoundly, sometimes beyond recognition for a non-expert, in only a few centuries. Therefore, even though we can speculate about how language could have developed as the modern human species evolved in ancient pre-history, the most powerful forces behind language change are certainly independent of human evolution. Furthermore, even the most ancient recorded languages are capable of expressing any modern thoughts and concepts if they are only updated with modern technical terminology (just think of Latin or Hebrew).

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    I'd say, the previous 4-6 posts are interesting but some still say more about what has changed, rather than why.

    What physiological structures are concerned I have never heard of any evidence that much has changed, brainwise, the past 20.000 years so I definitely do not buy that one as a reason.
    Obviously we still not only have the same fears of spiders and reptiles as would have been very necessary for survival back then - we also have some of the same group instincts that make us form groups, parties, gangs or tribes. Every time a group is formed they will at some point influence language - sometimes there are rational reasons for this: They need new words to describe certain things. Sometimes they just seem to invent new words or use old word in a different way to distinguish themselves from others. One of the most conspicuous examples of this is the French phenomena: Verlan.
    And I'd say every society have certain groups or classes that seem to use language in a more sophisticated way than others. The more complex a language is and the more different options it offers of saying approximately the same thing, the more this becomes obvious. In High German this is sometimes very obvious. The German comedian and filmmaker, V. v. Bülow alias Loriot uses this frequently where he makes certain types of people use the subjunctives in such an overly correct way that you hardly ever get to hear in everyday life. This is only funny, because such people really exist, teach in universities, make politics, write books etc.
    I postulate that all societies has had such people in some way. Leaders, shaman, druids, storytellers, whatever - and I also believe that if you bring such people to silence, all of a sudden it can result in severe changes in a language, just as it can result in a severe change in the average level of knowledge within this society. I suspect, this is what may have happened among other places in what we now know as Scandinavia.
    But a good example to compare with - just to have an idea if my theory could be right is just as cruel as it is recent: Laos. The dictator Pol Pot had a lot - of not most - of the highly educated people in his country killed. This is not so long ago that a lot of people reading and writing in this forum wouldn't have heard of this in the news while it happened, and still a new generation has grown up in the mean time.
    Anybody here, who is so familiar with the Laotian language that they can tell if this has had noteworthy effects on the further development of this language?

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Just for the record, Pol Pot was leader of Cambodia, not Laos.

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by Athaulf View Post
    Furthermore, even the most ancient recorded languages are capable of expressing any modern thoughts and concepts if they are only updated with modern technical terminology (just think of Latin or Hebrew).
    You see, you have just come up with a new reason for why languages change!

    Latin is able to express modern thoughts: all you need to do is update it with new terms. However, updating it means changing it. So new words are born because new thoughts need to be accounted for.

    Thus, every time a new thing or concept is born, we need to update the language. New entities are created by humans (most of the time), so every time a human creates, we need to update the language.

    Therefore, perhaps the answer to why languages change? depends on the answer to this question: why do humans create things?
    Last edited by uchi.m; 30th November 2007 at 7:17 PM. Reason: brushing up English

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by uchi.m View Post
    Therefore, perhaps the answer to why languages change? depends on the answer to this question: why do humans create things?
    That may explain why there are new words, but not why Latin aqua became French eau.

  19. #59
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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by uchi.m View Post
    You see, you have just come up with a new reason for why languages change!

    Latin is able to express modern thoughts: all you need to do is update it with new terms. However, updating it means changing it. So new words are born because new thoughts need to be accounted for.

    Thus, every time a new thing or concept is born, we need to update the language. New entities are created by humans (most of the time), so every time a human creates, we need to update the language.

    Therefore, perhaps the answer to why languages change? depends on the answer to this question: why do humans create things?
    They're not changed they're added to. The addition of a new term to a language does not change the grammar of the language or the pronunciation of existing terms.
    ‘If a chap can’t compose an epic poem while he is weaving a tapestry, he had better shut up.' William Morris.

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    Re: Why do languages change?

    Quote Originally Posted by timpeac View Post
    The addition of a new term to a language does not change the grammar of the language or the pronunciation of existing terms.
    Sometimes it introduces a syntactic or morphological construction that was not previously used in the language, or a foreign sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hulalessar
    That may explain why there are new words, but not why Latin aqua became French eau.
    How so?
    Deuparth gwaith yw ei ddechrau.

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