Chapter

How Language Change is Investigated

D. Gary Miller

in Language Change and Linguistic Theory, Volume I

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199583423
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723438 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583423.003.0002
How Language Change is Investigated

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Methods of documenting language history are developed. Since changes do not come equipped with analysis, the main task is to analyze the different stages of the language and motivate the change(s). This requires assessment of probable errors in the textual tradition. If reconstruction is involved, it is also necessary to ascertain what is reasonably projected back to the protolanguage and what must be parallel innovations in the daughter languages. Since successive grammars must be acquired, this chapter discusses the need for adequate theories of grammar (several models are discussed) and acquisition. A theory of change is not needed because the constituent units of change (cognition, perception, acquisition, selection, grammars) have their own principles.

Keywords: reconstruction; protolanguage; theories of grammar; acquisition; selection

Chapter.  11041 words. 

Subjects: Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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