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Old 03-26-2005, 08:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Linguistic change

One of the aspects of language that has always fascinated me is the evolution of language through phonological, lexical, syntactic and morphological change.
I am old enough to have noticed significant change in my own language during my lifetime, and I would be interested in hearing from speakers of other languages who have made similar observations.
Here are a couple of things that come to mind (a random sample, as there are hundreds of possible examples):

Morphological: the merging of past tense and past participle forms of some strong verbs:
ring - rang - rung
sing - sang -sung
swim - swam -swum
The past participle is used also for the past tense: "I rung him up".
There has always been a strong tendency in uneducated speech to substitute the past participle ("Who done this?") but the tendency has now become widespread to the point that it will inevitably become accepted.

Syntactic: Weakening of the subject-verb agreement rule: the verb now agrees with the nearest noun:
"The importance of these historic events are clear..."

Lexical: the disappearance of specific feminine forms of nouns: e.g. actress. We read "Marilyn Monroe was a famous actor...". "Aviatrix" disappeared some time ago.

There are significant phonological changes that have occurred in my own dialect of English, especially the merging of the two diphthongs in here/hair, rear/rare, but these are probably only regional.

Anyone care to comment on analogous changes in other languages?
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Old 03-26-2005, 10:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Mikel

Well i'll talk about french (spoken in France) though i am probably not old enough yet to notice such changes as you did. But i would like people to know that our "académie française" cares very much about the conservation of our language and it takes so long to admit a single accent removal.
I guess there is only fashion sayings but no real changes in the language structure as you meant previously.
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Old 03-27-2005, 08:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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L'existence de l'Académie française démontre la différence radicale qu'il y a entre l'attitude des francophones envers leur langue maternelle et celle des anglo-saxons...
La guerre contre toutes sortes de barbarismes ne peut probablement pas être gagnée à la longue, mais au moins vous faites un effort...
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Old 03-27-2005, 09:06 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Il faut dire toutefois que l'existence d'une "Academia latina" n'aurait pu rien faire pour arrêter l'évolution du latin vulgaire vers le français.
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Old 04-02-2006, 04:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Une "Académia Latina" aurait d'abord été impuissante à enrayer le glissement du latin classique au latin impérial puis au sabir abâtardi des clercs au Haut Moyen Age. Et le français n'est pas le résultat de l'évolution du latin vulgaire
mais une assimilation sans trêve d'éléments lexicaux de peuples nomades, la plupart guerriers, accompagnée du triomphe de la facilité prépositionnelle sur la précise rigueur flexionnelle, ce qui a détruit la souplesse syntaxique du latin(Paulum amat Petrus ne pouvant plus être que Pierre aime Paul ou Paul est aimé de Pierre).Dans le même temps la phonétique bousculée éloignait les mots adoptés de leur prononciation originelle, un processus qui dans la foulée des légions romaines (dont les recrues barbares constituèrent la majorité) a fait passer le latin "parlar" au provençal "parla", à l'espagnol "hablar" et au portugais "falar".
Mais aussi avec une conscience que Richelieu donnera plus tard à l'Académie,
des lettrés se sont attaché à restituer les racines du latin classique, promeuvant "équestre" (equus) à côté de "chevalin" (caballus).
Sorry, I've got to stop here but I'll be back to further discuss the subject of the debasement ( at a quickening pace) of , and make no mistake,all the spoken languages.
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Old 04-02-2006, 08:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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this is a very interesting subject, mike
i didn't know about the disappearing of feminine forms

i guess the biggest threat to our languages comes today from text messages people who have known a "before" and an "after" can still make a difference, but i'm afraid kids will have a horrible orthograph later.
to me, the following things are particularly in danger :
- apostrophes (je t'appelle -> je tappelle)
- silent endings (ils font -> il fon)
- contractions of words into one or several letters (c, l, bcp...)

it's getting more and more seldom to find a kid who knows the difference between "s'est", "c'est", "ces", "ses", and "sait"

i wonder if it will even go towards an authorized use of numbers inside words

in common language, i think we use more and more english syntax, for example for the place of the adjective : we put it more often in front of the noun. (i have to admit that i do it quite often just for fun )

the académie française does play a role, but smaller than it wish it had we just can't adopt their french neologisms meant to replace english words when they're twice longer and sound horrible

a big tendency also is, for words that are written the same in english and french, but don't mean exactly the same thing, to adopt the english meaning. we actually do it very often without even noticing it

i also predict that we'll soon get passé composé and present perfect mixed.
(eg "je l'ai fait depuis trois mois)

that's all i can think of right now...

about english, i wonder if it will become normal to write "i" instead of "I". personnally, i prefer the small one, it's easier and prettier....and less egocentric
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Old 04-02-2006, 09:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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And back I am !
Mikel, I do love that subject you've raised. And the question is : do languages
obey some kind of darwinist law of evolution, i.e. a betterment of their precision and clarity, do they improve in any way with time ? And the answer is NO.
Languages are mortal, history tells us, and Sanskrit died from perfection
(Samskrita: the perfect)
Bon , essayons à nouveau le français.
Les atteintes au langage sont d'autant plus graves que la télévision les véhicule d'émission en émission, leur donnant aux yeux d'un peuple
mal formé (par des filières d'enseignement totalement inadaptées) et je parle ici de la France ou je réside parfois.
Alors, Mikel, je puis témoigner que les français connaissent la même dérive de langage que tu dénonces à propos de l'anglais sans doute depuis longtemps "twisted" de ton pays.
Again, please excuse me, I'll be with you in no time!
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