Motivations of Language Change

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:
Motivations of Language Change

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Motivations of Language Change. Various factors motivate change in different components of the grammar and lexicon. Contact is a major catalyst, being the epitomous alteration of the triggering experience. A contact or socially motivated change can have different properties from one that is functionally motivated or whose origin is abductive in nature, e.g. reanalysis, which always involves a surface ambiguity. This permits the acquirer only certain options for an analysis, but the one selected must still be motivated. Like all other changes, unless categorically prompted or externally sanctioned, reanalyses need not be realized as language changes, which prompts a discussion of the interacting tensions between continuity and innovation. The second half of the chapter treats Danish‐English contact in northeast England and the death of Anglo‐French in medieval England.

Keywords: grammar; lexicon; language contact; reanalysis; surface ambiguity; continuity; innovation

Chapter.  19374 words. 

Subjects: Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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