Historical Linguistics - the description and explanation of language change and evolution.
-The English language has evolved so much that it must be classified over three main periods:
–Old English (450-1100)
–Middle English (1100-1500)
Old English (8 Century)
Nothing is Safe from Change…
and Seaxan Þa sige geslo gan
and Saxons the victory won
„And the Saxons won the victory‟
Þa sendan hi ha m renddracan
then sent they home messenger
„Then they sent home a messenger‟
[ha m]→[h m]→[howm]
-an marks +past and
+ plural subject
verb at end
Language is Systematic
-Remember language is rule governed and thus when one thing happens, it creates a domino
[ha m]→[h m]→[howm]
but every instance of
[a ] → [ow].
Why does language change?
–Process that facilitates speech by:
–deleting a consonant in a complex cluster
•[f f s] → [f fs]
–ephenthesis (segment insertion)
•[ lit] → [ lit]
–A source of language change whereby a new pronunciation arises that reflects more
closely the spelling of the word
–“often” is pronounced [ ft n] instead of [ f n]
•the [t] was at one time eliminated, but the spelling did not change, so people
began to pronounce [t] again. •Analogy
–speakers prefer regular patterns.
–“bring” → “brung” because of the correct data “ring/rung”
–involves trying to attribute the internal structure of a word to separate units.
–“hamburger” (Hamburg, Germany) and not morphemes “ham + burger”
•Languages in contact
–when speakers from one native language frequently interact with speakers from another
•Southwest U.S.-Mexico border
•mixing: yard, truck, carpet
•borrowing: Canada, moccasin, totem, tomahawk
–Can introduce new phonemes and change sound distribution
•Middle English had word-initial [f] but not [v]
•English-French contact led to English permitting [v]
-Begins with subtle changes in sound patterning
-Identical processes we studied in phonetics have led to sound change.
Place/Manner of Articulation
Umlaut (when a vowel or glide influences a vowel in another syllable)
–A segment becomes less like another segment