Language history and change. Introduction.
2- by comparative reconstruction.
Example of no.1: if we use familiar letters to write out the words for father and brother in Sanskrit, Latin and Ancient Greek, some common features become apparent. The fact that close similarities occur is good evidence for proposing a family connection.
If, in a cognate set, three forms begin with a [p] sound and one form begins with a [b] sound, then our best guess is that the majority have retained the original sound (i.e. [p]), and the minority has changed a little through time.
Based on the fact that certain types of sound-change are very common such as:
1- final vowels often disappear
A B C
cavallocaballo cheval (horse)
cantarecantar chanter (sing)
Look for the answer on your book!
1 2 3 Protoforms
mubemupemup ___ (stream)
abadiapatiapat ___ (rock)
aganaakanaakan ___ (knife)
enuguenukuenuk ___ (diamond)
The reconstruction of proto-forms is an attempt to determine what a language must have been like before written records began. However, even when we have written records from an older period, they may not resemble the written forms found today.
Most of the basic terms come from OE such as mann(man),wif(woman), cild (child), hũs(house) and others.
Yet the language of the peasants remained English. They worked on the land and reared sheep, cows and swine (words from OE) while the French-speaking upper classes talked about mutton, beef and pork (words of French origin) Hence,the different words in modern English to refer to these creatures ‘on the hoof’ as opposed to ‘on the plate’.
hu:s haws (house)
In addition to sound change, some sounds simply disappear such as the voiceless velar fricative /x/ e.g. nicht= night.
Metathesis involves a reversal in position of two adjoining sounds. Examples from OE:
frist first hros horse
bridd bird acsian ask
Metathesis may also occur between non-adjoining sounds as in the reversal of the [l] and [r] sounds in the following examples.
Epenthesis involves the addition of a sound to the middle of a word, such as:
Prothesis involves the addition of a sound to the beginning of a word. It is common in the change of pronunciation of some forms from Latin to Spanish as in:
The difference between OE and ME in sentence structure involves word order. The subject-verb-object order common in ME is also
E.g. of narrowing is OE word hund, used for any kind of dog, but now, hound, used only for some specific breeds.