Language Change And Its Effects Essay example

Language Change And Its Effects Essay example

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Languages are continually changing and developing, and these changes occur in many different ways and for a variety of reasons. Language change is detectable to some extent in all languages, and ‘similar paths of change’ can be recognised in numerous unrelated languages (Bybee, 2015, p. 139). Since users of language all over the world have ‘the same mental processes’ and ‘use communication for the same or very similar ends’ (Bybee, 2015, p. 1), similar changes occur on the same linguistic aspects, and in many cases these changes produce similar results in multiple languages. However, language change is limited by the function it performs. Languages must be learnt to such an extent which allows communication between the generation above and below one’s own (McMahon, 1994, p. 5). Hence language change is a gradual, lethargic process, as only small changes in language can take place between generations, whilst still allowing communication between these generations. Language change is inevitable due to its mutability (Breivic & Jahr, 1989, p. 8), not only due to changes in the phonology and morphology of language through the ages, but also the necessity to develop and expand due to advances in technology and culture.

Changes in a languages’ morphology can have huge influence on language change. Simple changes to small linguistic units over large periods of time can ultimately have a huge linguistic consequence. Change in morphology is an extremely common phenomenon, and one which often results in the damage of morphological distinction between words. An example is the weakening of unstressed vowels, which is present in numerous languages. This is an example of the apocope phenomenon, whereby the final sound of a word is omitted (Ste...


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...y well educated, often feel hostile towards language change. However, the younger generation have grown up with the changes in language that the older generation frowned upon, and therefore accept them as legitimate representations of their language. Hence, when the older generation inevitably pass away, language change faces little resistance and the changes which were originally considered undesirable become the norm (Trask, 2013, pp. 72-73). . ‘Why do languages change?’ is a difficult question with no definitive answer. Linguists can however put forward theories for the reasons behind language change, as shown in the example above given by Aichinson (2001). In reality however, it is likely that languages do not change for one reason alone, but a combination of reasons which have the combined effect of changing the phonology and morphology of a language over time.

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