Regularity of Sound Change: Consistent change according to phonological rules; for example, the caught-cot merger, which has occurred in regular contexts in areas of North America and Scotland.
see: the Northern Cities Vowel Shift affects the six short vowels in caught, cot, cat, bit, bet and but.
Sound Correspondences: Great Vowel Shift – In England Middle English changed to Modern English by means of a shift in pronunciation of vowels. Called a chain shift because several sounds move as if in step across the phonetic chart. (see more in section below)
Indo-European is the protolanguage, or ancestor, of the modern European languages, which split into ten groups over time (not the oversimplified two in the text!)
- Celtic, with languages spoken in the British Isles, in Spain, and across southern Europe to central Turkey;
- Germanic, with languages spoken in England and throughout Scandinavia & central Europe to Crimea;
- Italic, with languages spoken in Italy and, later, throughout the Roman Empire including modern-day Portugal, Spain, France, and Romania;
- Balto-Slavic, with Baltic languages spoken in Latvia & Lithuania, and Slavic throughout eastern Europe plus Belarus & the Ukraine & Russia;
- Balkan (exceptional, as discussed below), with languages spoken mostly in the Balkans and far western Turkey;
- Hellenic, spoken in Greece and the Aegean Islands and, later, in other areas conquered by Alexander (but mostly around the Mediterranean);
- Anatolian, with languages spoken in Anatolia, a.k.a. Asia Minor, i.e. modern Turkey;
- Armenian, spoken in Armenia and nearby areas including eastern Turkey;
- Indo-Iranian, with languages spoken from India through Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iran and Kurdish areas of Iraq and Turkey;
- Tocharian, spoken in the Tarim Basin of Xinjiang, in far western China.
This chart from the Utexas Linguistics research Center shows the progression over time of these languages developing:
Regional dialects became separate languages – as Romance languages developed from Latin. Regular sound changes characterize the differences between the languages.
Examples of the sound changes in English:
lost sounds: /x/ velar fricative lost from words like light and night;
new sounds: the allophone (variant sound not signalling meaning change) of /f/, /v/ becoming its own phoneme; the sound ʒ as in leisure: ˈli ʒər;
sounds from other languages’ influence: /ch/ or /tʃ/ sound from Italian as in /tʃɜrtʃ/ church replaced /k/ as in proto-germanic kirika and /ʃ/ sound from French as in shut /ʃʌt/ – compare to Old English scyttan
changed sounds: doubled (geminate) consonant /f:/ becoming simplified to /f/
Great Vowel Shift is credited to Otto Jesperson, who coined the term, “The great vowel-shift consists in a general raising of all long vowels” (A Modern English Grammar, 1909).
The eight historical Indo-European cases are as follows, with examples either of the English case or of the English syntactic alternative to case:
- The nominative case indicates the subject of a finite verb: We went to the store.
- The accusative case indicates the direct object of a verb: The clerk remembered us.
- The dative case indicates the indirect object of a verb: The clerk gave us a discount.
- The ablative case indicates movement from something, or cause: The victim went from us to see the doctor. and He was unhappy because of depression.
- The genitive case, which roughly corresponds to English’s possessive case and preposition of, indicates the possessor of another noun: John’s book was on the table. and The pages of the book turned yellow.
- The vocative case indicates an addressee: John, are you all right? or simply Hello, John!
- The locative case indicates a location: We live in China.
- The instrumental case indicates an object used in performing an action: We wiped the floor with a mop. and Written by hand.
Word order in English has changed; Old English allowed for Subject -Object-Verb construction because case marking clarified relationships.
English negation: used particle ne in OE; allowed double negation; this survives in some dialects (as in “I haven’t never owed nothing to no one“)
Location of negation in contraction has changed
Formation of comparatives & superlatives: more gladder was grammatical in 1470
Noticed regular sound correspondences between Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and Germanic languages. Posited what came to be known as Grimm’s Law: Voiced aspirates become unaspirated, voiced stops become voiceless, voiceless stops become fricatives. (IPA CHART )
Yoda’s syntax (p. 527) is OSV (object –subject-verb)
- Change in category – Nouns becoming verbs (impact; hoover, Mirandize – can you think of more?);
- Addition of new words
- coinage – Kodak, Xerox, Google, sudoku
- from names (eponymous) – Eponym board
- Blends – podcast, chortle
- Reduced words
- clipping – prof.
- acronyms – NASA
- Borrowings / loan words
- Loss of Words – pease; groovy?
- Semantic Change
- Broadening – holiday
- Narrowing – meat
- Meaning Shifts knight, lust
- Reconstructing Dead Languages
- 19th Century
- Comparative Reconstruction
- Historical Evidence – written works and letters – best if written by poor spellers!
- 19th Century
- Extinct & Endangered Languages
– Modern examples of resurrection: Hawaiian, Hebrew
- Genetic Classification of Languages
- Languages of the world
- Types of Languages
- Why Do Languages Change?