Published on 15 Apr 2011
School
Department
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Lecture 10 More on Historical Linguistics Language Revitalization
Semantic changes
Word meanings take place continually, and changes are usually progressive
and follow a limited number of paths:
oBroadening: being more general than original
Bird: originally > small fowl; new meaning > any winged
creatures (except bats)
oNarrowing: word meaning becomes less general
Dog: old meaning > any dog; new meaning > hunting breed
Meat: old > any type of food; new > flesh of an animal
oAmelioration: Word meaning takes on positive connotation
oPrejoration: Word meaning takes on negative connotation
i.e.: silly : happy becomes foolish
oWeakening: Word loses force
oMetaphoric extension
Eg: grasp > understand or holding onto a idea
High > on drugs
oSyntactic change
English underwent major changes with respect to word order
oChanges in OE word order are thought to be tied to the loss of case
endings, during the Meddle English period, as the two changes
coincided and loss of word order variability is a natural consequence of
loss of case
The ending tells you the word ordering;
Inversion in the history of English
Changes in word order reflect a change in the basic phrase structure rules of the
language
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