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Language Change. Studies language change from 1700 (eighteenth century) to present... The “Late Modern” period, when there is a concerted effort at standardization. Standardization : the fixing of norms/standards to English (grammar, spelling, lexis etc.) and its variations

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language change
Language Change
  • Studies language change from 1700 (eighteenth century) to present...
  • The “Late Modern” period, when there is a concerted effort at standardization
slide2

Standardization: the fixing of norms/standards to English (grammar, spelling, lexis etc.) and its variations

  • Synchronic change: change occurring at a fixed “point” or “moment” in time (this moment, though, is theoretical or imaginary – we might be taking “the eighteenth century” as our “moment”)
  • Diachronic change: Change occurring across historical time
drivers of change science technology
“Drivers” of Change: Science & Technology
  • New words (often Greek/Latin in derivation) borrowed or coined as needed
  • Scientific innovation during the Renaissance (roughly C16-mid C17) and the Enlightenment(roughly mid C17 – C18) required expansion of the lexicon; no language for the new discoveries
  • New inventions require new words (e.g., a machine that washes the dishes is called... um... a dishwasher [neologism; compound])
drivers of change travel
“Drivers” of Change: Travel
  • Travel – because of trade and tourism/leisure industry – brings different languages and cultures into contact with one another
  • More borrowings/loan words(e.g., “curry”; in C18 “currey,” when it was a neologism without standard spelling)
drivers of change social political ideological
“Drivers” of Change: Social, Political, Ideological
  • Changes in public attitudes (e.g., towards gender/race) make certain lexical choices more/less acceptable
  • Political correctness exerts a pressure:
    • some words undergo pejoration, & fall out of use;
    • Coinages/neologismsreplace older, now archaicterms;
    • changing attitudes can affect which registers will be adopted in certain contexts
drivers of change media
“Drivers” of Change: Media
  • Might affect attitudes (& therefore register – journalism more/less formal today that 100 years ago?)
  • Introduce coinages, initialisms, acronyms
  • Slang/colloquialismsbecome part of “standard” lexicon (e.g., “Gotcha”)
  • Hyperbole [“hy-per-b(u)lly”] and abbreviation (initialisms, acronyms, clippings) typical of “journalese”
change through abbreviation
Change through abbreviation
  • Initialism(e.g., HQ)
  • Acronym (e.g., SCUBA)
  • Clipping (also “truncation” & “shortening”): Reduction of a word by dropping one or more syllables; specific to lexical/semantic field (e.g., from School: exam(ination), math(ematic)s)

Reasons/Effects:

  • Make specialist/expert language more accessible/common knowledge (e.g., DNA & BSE)
  • Save time and space
    • important in commercial publishing and some specialist/academic writing (avoids clumsy repetition of long noun phrases)
  • Humorous (can affect tenor) – e.g., WAG
how new words enter the lexicon
How new words enter the lexicon
  • Coinages/neologisms
  • Borrowings/loan words
  • Compounds
  • Portmanteaus/Blends
  • Back formation
  • Conversion
  • Affixation
back formation
Back Formation
  • Removal of imagined affix from an existing word. E.g., “edit” (C18) from “editor”
  • “Editor” actually the root/base word
conversion
Conversion
  • When a word is “converted” to another word class, without any morphological change.
  • Produce (verb & noun)
  • Google (verb & noun)
affixation
Affixation
  • Prefixing
    • E.g., “mega-”; “super-” (Pinker calls it “promiscuous” because...)
  • Suffixing (especially verbing & nominalization)
    • E.g., -ization & -ize (radicalize/radicalization)
slide12

Backformation, conversion, affixation often reflect significant cultural shift

  • E.g., “radicalization”/“radicalizing” – common since so-called “War on Terror”
  • “Edit” as back-formation of “editor” – from late C18, reflecting spread of literacy, standardization, book production etc.
semantic shift drift
Semantic Shift/Drift
  • Amelioration
  • Pejoration
  • Weakening: lessening of intensity of a word (e.g., “soon”: used to mean “straightaway”)
  • Strengthening: increasing intensity of word (e.g., “appalled”: feeble, pale; now deeply dismayed)
  • Broadening/Generalization: expansion of meanings/connotations of a word
  • Narrowing/Specialization: Opposite of broadening
semantic shift through metaphor
Semantic Shift through metaphor
  • Broadening can occur because of figurative/metaphorical uses of words:
  • Metaphor
  • Euphemism: A mild figure of speech, designed to mitigate
  • Idiom
slide15

Amelioration

  • Pejoration
  • Weakening
  • Narrowing/specialization
  • Broadening/generalization
  • Polysemy
  • Connotation
  • Denotation
  • Metaphor
  • Euphemism
  • Idiom
  • Lexicon
  • Political correctness:
  • Archaism
  • Register
  • Slang/Colloquialism
  • Journalese
  • Overt Prestige
  • Covert Prestige
  • Antonomasia
  • Eponym
  • Trademark Erosion/Proprietary Name
define
Define
  • Standardization
  • Synchronic change
  • Diachronic change
drivers of change science technology1
“Drivers” of Change: Science & Technology
  • New words (often Greek/Latin in derivation) borrowed or coined as needed
  • Scientific innovation during the Renaissance (roughly C16-mid C17) and the Enlightenment(roughly mid C17 – C18) required expansion of the lexicon; no language for the new discoveries
  • New inventions require new words (e.g., a machine that washes the dishes is called... um... a dishwasher [neologism; compound])
drivers of change travel1
“Drivers” of Change: Travel
  • Travel – because of trade and tourism/leisure industry – brings different languages and cultures into contact with one another
  • More borrowings/loan words(e.g., “curry”; in C18 “currey,” when it was a neologism without standard spelling)
drivers of change social political ideological1
“Drivers” of Change: Social, Political, Ideological
  • Changes in public attitudes (e.g., towards gender/race) make certain lexical choices more/less acceptable
  • Political correctness exerts a pressure:
    • some words undergo pejoration, & fall out of use;
    • Coinages/neologismsreplace older, now archaicterms;
    • changing attitudes can affect which registers will be adopted in certain contexts
drivers of change media1
“Drivers” of Change: Media
  • Might affect attitudes (& therefore register – journalism more/less formal today that 100 years ago?)
  • Introduce coinages, initialisms, acronyms
  • Slang/colloquialismsbecome part of “standard” lexicon (e.g., “Gotcha”)
  • Hyperbole [“hy-per-b(u)lly”] and abbreviation (initialisms, acronyms, clippings) typical of “journalese”
change through abbreviation1
Change through abbreviation

Types of abbreviation and their effects

  • Initialism (e.g., HQ)
  • Acronym (e.g., SCUBA) 
  • Clipping (also “truncation” & “shortening”): Reduction of a word by dropping one or more syllables; specific to lexical/semantic field (e.g., from School: exam(ination), math(ematic)s) 

Reasons/Effects:

  • Make specialist/expert language more accessible/common knowledge (e.g., DNA & BSE)
  • Save time and space
    • important in commercial publishing and some specialist/academic writing (avoids clumsy repetition of long noun phrases)
  • Humorous (can affect tenor) – e.g., WAG
how do new words enter the lexicon
How do new words enter the lexicon?
  • Coinages/neologisms
  • Borrowings/loan words
  • Compounds
  • Portmanteaus/Blends
  • Back formation
  • Conversion
  • Affixation
back formation1
Back Formation
  • Removal of imagined affix from an existing word. E.g., “edit” (C18) from “editor”
  • “Editor” actually the root/base word
conversion1
Conversion
  • When a word is “converted” to another word class, without any morphological change.
  • Produce (verb & noun)
  • Google (verb & noun)
slide26

Effects of backformation, conversion, & affixation

  • Backformation, conversion, affixation often reflect significant cultural shift
  • E.g., “radicalization”/“radicalizing” – common since so-called “War on Terror”
  • “Edit” as back-formation of “editor” – from late C18, reflecting spread of literacy, standardization, book production etc.
semantic shift drift1
Semantic Shift/Drift

Processes of semantic shift

  • Amelioration
  • Pejoration
  • Weakening: lessening of intensity of a word (e.g., “soon”: used to mean “straightaway”)
  • Strengthening: increasing intensity of word (e.g., “appalled”: feeble, pale; now deeply dismayed)
  • Broadening/Generalization: expansion of meanings/connotations of a word
  • Narrowing/Specialization: Opposite of broadening