Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Language Change

Language change refers to the variation of a language over time. This can be observed in morphological, phonological, semantic and syntactic features. Language change can be caused by many factors.

Among the factors involved in language change are the principle of least effort, language contact, geographic separation, migration and social prestige. The principle of least effort states that speakers tend to make sound changes that require less articulatory effort. For example, the weak pronunciation of for replaces the back vowel with a schwa, a sound which is reduced. Languages often borrow words from other languages they come into contact with. For example, English has borrowed many cooking terms from French. As a result of migration, speakers change and create languages such as pidgins and creoles. Geographic separation has resulted in different forms of English in Britain and the United States. In the case of social prestige, language may not only change towards a prestigious accent, but away from one which is viewed negatively. In British English, non-rhotic accents are more prestigious than rhotic ones, but this is the opposite from the United States, which favours rhotic ones.

Language change occurs for a variety of reasons. German is a language with many dialects. As a result of early German Bible translations, High German is very prestigious today. Language change is inevitable and affects all languages.

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