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Language Change. The Discussion.

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language change

Language Change

the discussion
The Discussion

Language change had been especially the most favored field in the 19th century (before the era of modern linguistics). During the period language historians reconstructed the pre-historical language (the proto languages) that they claimed to be of existence in the remote past from which the languages we find these days have evolved.

how do language changes spread
How do language changes spread?

1- From group to group: changes spread like waves in different directions, and social factors such as age, gender, status and social group affect the rates and directions of change.

2- From style to style : from more formal to more casual, from one individual to another, from one social group to another, and from one word to another.

3- Lexical diffusion : the change from one word's vowel to another, the sound change begins in one word and later on in another, etc

how do we study language change
How do we study language change?

1. Apparent-time studies of language change: it is the study of comparing the speech of people from different age groups, to find out any differences that could indicate change (whether increase or decrease).

2. Studying language change in real time: in this study, the researcher studies the language in a community and then comes back to it after a number of years to study it again, and find out any changes.

reasons for language change
Reasons for language change

Reasons for language change

According to Holmes, there are three reasons for language changes:

a.Social status



On the other hand, a lot of studies suggest that there are two reasons; internal and external. The internal reasons are referred to the causes from the nature of language itself while the external reasons are referred to the situations found in the society using the language that trigger the change.

internal reason
Internal reason

Example of internal reason: the change from the sound of /ng/found in the words such as reading, going, seeing (Standard English Variety) into /n/ (non Standard English Variety).

the external reasons
The external reasons

a Immigration of the language speaker = English has been changing since the speaker from England to American land, Australia, Canada etc,

b. The invention of technology = computer device the word mouse, the word WWW (World Wide Web) = surfing it means searching or visiting net sites

C.The economic and social values of a language = when a lot of people around the world believe that English has more economic value and social prestige, they will choose to learn its instead of others.

D.Political situation = idiolects of political leaders (the presidents, a political party leader, etc) sometimes evoke a change of language treatment of a variety of the language used in society.

kinds of language changes
Kinds of Language Changes

a.Sounds Change

A lot of language-historians carried researches to find why such similarities took place, as can be observed in several words of Sanskrit, Latin, and Germanic language, which include English as one of the language, as listed below.


The sound of long /u/ was changing into dipthong /ou/

Old English Modern English

[mus;] mouse [maus]

[hu;s] house [haus]

The sound of /au/ was changing into [ә]

Old English Modern English

[lau] law [lәw]

The sound of [o] was changing into [ә] or [u]

Old English Modern English

[sow] saw [sәw]

[∫ows] shoes [∫ us]

[to: 0] tooth [to: 0]

grammatical change
Grammatical Change

To see that a language has undergone a grammatical change some structures and grammatical items found in the past should be compared with those used today. In older English, words in declarative sentences might be ordered into Subject Object Verb but in

Modern the common order should be Subject Verb Object.

Example: Se man bone keening sloh(orangitu- raja –membunuh)=The man slew the king.

Subjects : se man=the man

Verbs : sloh=slew

Objects : bone keening=the king

lexical change
Lexical Change

Lexical Change

Among the components of language, the lexicon most commonly undergoes change. The lexicon changes when new words are formed or borrowed.

1 the formation or borrowing
1. The formation or borrowing

New words are often formed in order to fulfill the needs for naming new things. Words such as compact disc, microprocessor, Bluetooth, facebook, were formed in English to name the technology that were invented.

English in fact has borrowed a lot of words and lexicon from other languages in its history. For example, words such as Pizza and Spaghetti from Italy, Panzer and Hamburger from German, robot from Czech, karma and yoga from Sanskrit etc.

2 the change of the sounds and spelling
2. The change of the sounds and spelling

Indonesian language has been through several stages of spelling reformation in 1972. Example : /u/ used to be also spelled /oe/ , /k/ with /ch/, /j/ with /dj/, and /y/ with /j/. SuratKabar Jaya would be SoeratChabarDjaja

3 the change of meaning
3. The change of meaning

The change of meanings can classified as expanding, narrowing or shifting (changing totally). The English words: holiday = a religious holy day but now it means any day when we do not go work or school.

These are examples of meaning expanding: starve = to die but now it means to die of hunger and meat = food but now it means food from animal flesh

Furthermore there are examples of narrowing meaning. In the past word silly = happy, nice = ignorant, immoral = not customary, humor = temperament, but today, all of those meanings are not used anymore.

dead words
Dead words

Some words not only change the meanings but also are not used as much as they used to be. Example in English colloquial words: top-hole, brill, groovy = the new words have replaced them namely; great, superb, or wonderful.

Some words have been dead because the things that they are referred to are no longer around. Example: after a Dutch left the Indonesian land, some Dutch words commonly used in the past such as moril, universil, diplomatis = replaced by English moral, universal, diplomatic.

language shift
Language shift

Language Shift

Language shift is a form of full amount language change. The concept refers to a situation where a speech community begins to entirely use a new language. The following data account several communities in English speaking countries such as England, Australia, and USA that have been reported to shift or at least tend to shift from their native languages (China, Spanish, and German) to English.

-The Cornish speakers at Cornwall in England shifted from Cornish to English

-Lots of Gujarati speakers in England shifted from Gujarati to English

-Lots of German immigrant speakers in Aussie shifted Germany to English

-Some Greece immigrants shift from Greek to English in Australia

-Most Spanish immigrants in the USA have shifted from Spanish to English

-Most Chinese American the USA seems to shift from Chinese to English

language maintenance
Language Maintenance

Language Maintenance refers simply to the preservation by a speech-community of its native language from generation to generation. There are several factors that explain why language maintenance takes place.

- Larger number of speaker

- Concentration of living

- Identity and pride of culture

- Better economic condition

language death
Language Death

A dying language is a spoken language spoken by fewer people and it is a language that has no speaker anymore because they have totally shifted to another language. There are two types of language death;

partial language death
Partial language death

It is related to language shift phenomenon found in the immigrant groups in their new land. Example: some Indonesian families arriving Australia and having a settlement there may still want to use Indonesian. After they have children as second generation, the children may begin to speak only English. However, after have third generation emerges, none of the families may be found to speak Indonesian anymore. The death of Indonesian, however is partial, Indonesian language still spoken.

total language death
Total language death

It happens when that language has no more speakers left. The situation is more likely to come about to the language spoken by minority than to the languages with lots of speakers. Example: most languages of American Indian indeed died in their own land after their cultures were invaded and the speakers were killed by European immigrants.


Pidgin is a new form of language developed by communities who normally speak different languages and make regular contacts for particular purposes.

The study on the origin of pidgin proposed two different theories:

1. The monogenetic theory

Assumes the similarities found in the pidgins, therefore it suggests that pidgins have a common origin.

2. The polygenetic theory

Pidgin can appear when communities speak different tongues have a need to communicate to each other.

kinds of pigdin
Kinds of Pigdin

There are two different types of pidgins:

1. Contact pidgins

The new language was developed upon two languages spoken by communities that regard each other to be equal.

2. L2 pidgin

It is developed after one community attempts to adopt the other dominant language imperfectly.


The model puts jargons as the base of a stable pidgin before it is expanded and then turning to be a creole in the end.


According Rene Appel and Peter Muysken, 1987, a creole language is a language that emerged when the pidgin had acquired native speakers.

We can conclude that a creole is a language that grows when a base pidgin is changing to be more and more developed.


The model puts jargons as the base of a stable pidgin before it is expanded and then turning to be a Creole in the end.


Creoles and pidgins come into existence out of a gradual changing from different standard languages. Those are indeed special sociolinguistic phenomenon.