Lec. 8 Language Change
Reconstructing Dead Languages • Language change: how & why • Historical & comparative linguistics • Historical because it deals with the history of a particular language • Comparative because it deals with relations among languages
The 19th century Comparativists • The 19th century historical & comparative linguists based their theories on observations of regular sound correspondences among certain languages. • Languages which display systematic similarities & differences must have descended form a common source language, i.e. genetically related
The 19th century Comparativists • Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, Persian, & Germanic share regular/ systematic certain phonological differences & similarities • Regular sound correspondence of related languages • Latin /p/ = English /f/ • Latin /t/ = English // • Latin /k/ = English /h/
Grimm’s Law • Voiced aspirates unaspirated /bh/ /b/ /dh/ /d/ /gh/ /g/
Grimm’s Law • Voiced stops voiceless /b/ /p/ /d/ /t/ /g/ /k/
Grimm’s Law • Voiceless stops fricatives /p/ /f/ /t/ // /k/ //
Cognates Are words in related languages that developed from the same ancestral root,, i.e. they have a common etymological origin such as English horn & Latin cornu, but not always, have the same meaning in the different languages.
Examples • Examples of cognates in Indo-European languages are the words: night (English), nuit (French), Nacht (German), nacht (Dutch), nag (Afrikaans), nicht (Scots), natt (Swedish, Norwegian), nat (Danish),
Comparative Reconstruction • If languages resemble one another; is it due to borrowing? Or is it by chance? • English, German, Danish, Norwegian, & Swedish share similar vocabulary, similar spelling, & similar grammatical rules. • English : man / milk • German : mann / milch • Swedish : mäniska / mjölk • Norwegian : man / melk
Hebrew & Arabic • By applying the comparative method, can you tell what do these words mean in Hebrew? احريموت ؟ مفتياح؟ عولم؟ رحمنوت؟
Comparative Reconstruction • By means of comparative method, we will see if these languages have evolved form an ancestral language, i.e. Proto-Germanic? Proto-Semitic?
Reference • Fromkin et al. (2003).An Introduction to Language. (7th ed.). Mass.: Wadsworth. • Chapter (11) pp. 516-522