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Is there a way for something to be more correct than right? Of course, it is not worth further pondering on such a question as it does not refer to what is really meant by the original term. Nevertheless, the question shows the necessity to define carefully what is meant by this sociolinguistic phenomenon as its naming can obviously lead to misinterpretation. The author ascribes hypercorrect speakers a lack of control concerning their language. The definition however runs the risk of disregarding the sociolinguistic perspective in favor of a purely linguistic dimension.

How languages evolve - Alex Gendler

Decamp accounts for this statement by clarifying that it is not necessarily the grammatical rule itself, which is generalized, but rather another added rule, which is symmetrical to it cf. Decamp One of the main goals in this paper will be to show how this sociolinguistic phenomenon especially affects the lower middle class. Volume 28 Issue 1 Nov , pp. Volume 27 Issue 1 Nov , pp. Volume 26 Issue 1 Nov , pp.

II. Hypercorrection as a Factor in Linguistic Change

Volume 25 Issue 1 Dec , pp. Volume 24 Issue 1 Dec , pp. Volume 23 Issue 1 Dec , pp. Volume 22 Issue 1 Dec , pp. Volume 21 Issue 1 Dec , pp. Volume 20 Issue 1 Feb , pp. Volume 19 Issue 1 Nov , pp. Volume 18 Issue 1 Oct , pp. Volume 17 Issue 1 Dec , pp. Volume 16 Issue 1 Dec , pp.

Language Change and Linguistic Theory, Volume I: Approaches, Methodology, and Sound Change

Volume 15 Issue 1 Dec , pp. Volume 14 Issue 1 Dec , pp. Volume 13 Issue 1 Dec , pp. Section 4. The diachronic study of Present-Day English can thus be considered equivalent with historical studies of the language, whereas the discussion of future developments seems to occur most commonly in the form of subjective prescriptive laments by non-linguists about the deplorable present state of the language compared to an idealised past and caveats regarding the current trajectory of change cf.

Diversification of languages

This current relative lack of discussion on possible future developments in the English language may be explained by the prevalent scepticism with regard to the predictability of future linguistic changes. The common view is that it is not possible to make sensible predictions about future linguistic developments. The reasons for this are manifold.

Yet even if there should be laws of language change that apply regularly and even if we knew them, we could not be certain that their premisses are still going to be fulfilled in the future Keller : Since similar words may undergo the same change at different times cf.

Another problem is the fact that even trends that seem to develop steadily may change for reasons that are inconceivable at the moment of making a prediction. For instance, the emergence of computer-mediated communication and the ensuing primacy of typed writing has resulted in a decrease in the proportion of handwriting which was not to be expected in the early 20th century, and it may well be that the future holds communicative means that are not imaginable today.

Since it is not possible to predict such disruptive factors e. However, one should not forget that our knowledge of the past is also to a certain extent speculative. For instance, Proto-Indo-European, which is a reconstructed language, may have been reconstructed incorrectly at least regarding certain aspects Comrie : Since there are no sound recordings prior to the 19th century, the phonetic realisation of individual letters in Old or Middle English written texts also had to be reconstructed based on various types of evidence cf. Hogg : 67— However, while our assumptions about the history of the English language are only correct with a certain degree of likelihood, there seems to be a tendency to accept historical accounts of language as relatively factual.

Nonetheless, the application of the diachronic approaches used for the study of the past to the discussion of potential future developments is justified — and the present volume intends to discuss whether it is possible to predict linguistic change on this basis. Admittedly, the number of previous attempts at predicting the future of the English language is relatively small, but the proportion of eminent scholars who have been intrigued by this question and attempted to answer it is considerable. Crystal : gives a brief overview of assumptions about the future of the English language from the 18th and 19th centuries, e.

Among other things, he suggests that the progressive will become more pervasive, that the simple past will take over functions of the present perfect in British English as in American English , that whom will be replaced with who , that the s -genitive will spread and that would will be used in conditionals e. If he would come, we could leave. Mair speculates on the future of the English language from its perspective as a contact language in his eponymous paper. By comparison to these longer discussion of the topic, many other linguistic texts only make predictions about future developments in the English language in passing — e.

What makes this discussion of possible changes in the English language stand out is its inclusion of a number of sample texts written in what Future English might look like according to the author, e. Meyers Meyers gives examples from various science fiction novels in which the characters speak some future variety of English, e. He concludes that the similarity of the language spoken in most science-fiction novels to Present-Day English is actually larger than the differences Meyers : 20 , even if stylistic devices such as alternative spellings or verb-final sentence structures are used to convey a futuristic touch.

While these last instances might suggest that the predictability of linguistic change had better be relegated to the realm of science fiction, it is worthwhile considering the comparable case of bridges: bridges establish an enduring connection between entities that are apart and thus separate but at the same time still close enough to permit being linked. If entities are too distant from each other, they cannot be linked by a bridge but only by some means of transport, such as a ship or spaceship if at all : thus a bridge between the Earth and the Moon is a highly unrealistic endeavour e.

Exploring Linguistic Variation to Explain Language Change : Sociolinguistica

However, if we look less far than the Moon, we can see several bridges on Earth whose construction was presumably also deemed impossible in the past, such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which has a main span of 1, metres and a total length of 2, metres.

The analogy to linguistic research is self-evident: in the past few decades, the technical opportunities for the empirical study of language have been increased beyond all expectations, too. As Sinclair put it in : 1 ,. While the first corpora on the market still met with doubt regarding the degree to which they reflected linguistic usage, present-day corpora cover a large variety of different registers, and new corpora are continually being compiled: since , for example, GloWbE, the Corpus of Global Web-Based English, has permitted the analysis of regional variation in English web pages.

At the same time, corpus size has become ever larger: if GloWbE already comprises 1. The Google n-gram viewer provides appealing frequency charts of developments in any period between the years and Technological progress in general is likely to provide ever more suitable tools for the study of language and linguistic change, too. As a consequence, it is not completely excluded that it will be possible to achieve quantitative empirical results in future linguistic analyses that seem a long way off at present.

Even at the present, however, linguists can already draw on relatively sophisticated resources in order to analyse language empirically. Numerous studies research variation in linguistic usage and determine statistically under what conditions language users tend to choose one among the possible linguistic options over another. Their use of binary logistic regression permits the correct prediction of the choice of S-genitive and OF-genitive in Gries uses discriminant analysis to explore what variables — such as the length of the direct object or the idiomaticity of the verb phrase — result in a preference for verb-particle-object ordering e.

Studies such as these provide us with the means of making empirically grounded predictions regarding the linguistic behaviour of language users for one particular phenomenon in particular situations in the present state of the language. With the advent of a growing number of individual studies, our knowledge of the present and past stages of the English language becomes ever more detailed.

Your browser does not support the video tag. You can find the video by clicking here. Figure 2 exemplifies this graphically: if we represent language in all its many aspects as a two-dimensional vertical plane, then our knowledge about one particular phenomenon — such as particle placement — can be represented as a small area within that plane.

Of course, the scale is not accurate here. If we now consider that language may change across time — which is represented as consecutive language planes following each other on the time arrow actually, with an infinitely small distance between them , then it is theoretically possible to carry out studies on the same phenomenon at different times e. Modern English registers, as is done by Dorgeloh The more individual research points there are, the more we know about the historical development of a particular phenomenon which corresponds to the yellow arrow.

Provided that we have some diachronic results, among which there is at least one relatively recent account, it may be possible to extrapolate from the findings about the present and the past and to make tentative predictions concerning future developments for particular phenomena, based on what we already know about linguistic change.

The study of linguistic change has always played an important role in linguistics. Particularly in its beginnings, the academic study of language mainly focused on historical developments and the earlier stages of the various languages under consideration. The neo-grammarians attempted to reconstruct language and to determine general principles governing linguistic change in the past cf. Hickey : 1. This is also the time which is crucial when it comes to the prediction of potential future changes in the language. Speculative as the enterprise of prediction may seem, the impressive body of previous research furnishes us firstly with a number of considerations regarding the nature of linguistic change and secondly with several observations that seem to apply relatively regularly when it comes to language change, and which one may base some educated guesses upon.

In the very first place, there are a number of elaborate discussions of how and why languages change.

Language Change

For an overview of central approaches addressing the topic on a general level, cf. Schneider Labov has written extensively on the internal , social , cognitive and cultural principles which drive linguistic change. If we go back in time, Weinreich, Labov and Herzog : — lay the foundations for much of the subsequent discussion of language change by identifying five issues that any theory of linguistic change and thus also any prediction of future linguistic changes needs to take into consideration: the constraints on changes, the stages intervening in transition, the associated changes and the effects of changes e.

As for the generally applying principles, one which is widely accepted in the study of linguistic change cf. For predictions, the uniformitarian principle is simply extrapolated to the future, which means that any general principles that hold true now are expected to apply to future linguistic stages. As for the recurring patterns regarding linguistic change which predictions might focus on, the spread of innovations represents a central case.

However, a common observation is that this is not how linguistic innovations spread.


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Instead, linguistic change is more aptly represented graphically as an exponential S-shaped growth curve cf. Lass : ; Denison : 56 , which has, for instance, been observed in the historical separation of modal verbs from ordinary verbs or in the development of the use of the progressive Aitchison : 98— Nevalainen for a critical discussion of that model.

In the beginning, changes only affect few constructions so that the curve is relatively flat. As soon as a critical mass has been affected, the change gathers momentum and has wide-reaching consequences reflected by the steep part of the graph before slowing down with regard to the last remaining constructions of the previous type some of which may actually never change. With regard to the prediction of linguistic change, the observation of an S-shaped growth curve preceding the present time in an ongoing process of change means that the change is unlikely to speed up in the future, since most items in the language will have been affected by it already.

In view of the observation that it is unusual for a language to borrow grammatical words such as personal pronouns which is, however, the case with Scandinavian-origin they , their etc.


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