Comparative-Historical Linguistics

Joseph Salmons

in Linguistics

ISBN: 9780199772810
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
Comparative-Historical Linguistics

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  • Linguistics
  • Anthropological Linguistics
  • Language Families
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Sociolinguistics


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Historical linguistics is about how and why language changes over time. Comparative linguistics, in the relevant sense, is the study of linguistic relatedness, that is to say, of genetic or ancestral connections and related matters of subgrouping extending to the reconstruction of unattested ancestral languages or proto-languages. Historical linguistics is often regarded as the oldest branch of modern scientific linguistics. The powerful case put forward by the neogrammarians for the regularity of sound change allowed comparison of linguistic phenomena to the laws of the natural sciences, providing a cornerstone to the scientific status of linguistics. Once focused on the comparison of distinct historical stages (like Latin versus French or Old English versus Modern English), the field now incorporates much research on language change qua process, including work on changes now underway. Since all aspects of language change, save for our cognitive capacity for language, historical linguistics is directly connected to all subfields.

Article.  9098 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Anthropological Linguistics ; Language Families ; Psycholinguistics ; Sociolinguistics

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