Language history and change

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Language history and change

  1. 1. By Camilo Saavedra Language history and change
  2. 2. XIX century linguists came up with the idea of the existence of a proto-Indo-european family of languages Languages from different geographical areas have some common features, they are all related. A common ancestor A proto-language, a kind of “Great- grandmother” of modern languages
  3. 3. Comparative reconstruction A way of finding similarities in different languages (and this way find out their relation to an ancestor), were/are used cognates Cognates are a similar word in one language and another in form or pronounciation Comparative Reconstruction is a process in wich cognates are compared in order to find similarities
  4. 4. Cognates example
  5. 5. Principles In comparative reconstruction there are two important principles: The majority principle: when comparing cognate sets, the ones more similar demonstrate the less that those languages have changed from the proto- language The natural development principle: are a series of rules in language change (or evolution) that show the antiquity of that language in relation to the proto-language.
  6. 6. This shows that the more the word respects these rules, the more similar it is towards the proto-language.
  7. 7. English language change English language history is divided into three main periods: Old English (VII-XI) Middle English (XI-XV) Modern English (XV-present days)
  8. 8. Old English Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons and Jutes) invaded the British Isles in the V century. Words belonging to this period: mann (man), drincan (drink), etan (eat) Then, another northern-european tribe arrived, The Vikings. They brought the Old Norse, words like: give, leg, skin.
  9. 9. Anglo-saxon invasion
  10. 10. Viking invasion
  11. 11. Middle English Normans arrival to the British Isles in 1066. William “The Conqueror” (a norman) was crowned King of England. French relevance during this period, although English never ceased being spoken (by the lower class) Words like: defense, court, faith, army.
  12. 12. Norman invasion
  13. 13. From 1400 to 1600 English started changing in form, structure and pronounciation becoming Modern English (more specifically, early modern English)
  14. 14. Pronounciation change Not only some sounds changed, but also some others disappeared. i.e. the voiceless velar fricative /x/ wich in old english pronounciation of nicht as [nixt], but is absent in the present-day form of night [nayt] Metathesis: is a reversal in two adjoining sounds, had changed the pronounciation of some words
  15. 15. Metathesis example
  16. 16. Prothesis That is the addition of a sound to the beginning of a word
  17. 17. Syntactic changes In the transition from old english to modern english, we can find several differences in the order of the sentence, i.e.
  18. 18. Lexical changes A lot of borrowed words have been added to the english language along its evolution, from latin, greek and other languages. New words have been created Some other words have ceased to be used In terms of meaning, there are two processes: Broadening and Narrowing.
  19. 19. Broadening A word that previously had only one meaning, now it has some others, for example: In old english the word “dogca” was used to refer to any breed of dogs, but now, its evolution “dog” is used to refer to any breed.
  20. 20. Narrowing Is the reverse process, a word that before had several different meanings or uses, now it has only one, for example: The old english word “mete” refered to any kind of food, now it refers only to a specific breed, “meat”
  21. 21. It’s worth mentioning that this process of change in the language was not from one day to another, on the contrary a language changes gradually, it takes time and requires some factors to make it possible. Another important point to conclude is that language is in a continuous process of evolution, it’s always changing.

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