English language change important terms

A list of terms that are good to know when answering the language change exam question.

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Language change Glossary
The bold and underlined words are the ones that are crucial to language change
Accent ­ The distinctive way a speaker from a particular region pronounces words
Acronym ­ a new word made from the initial letters of all the words in a name or
phrase e.g. NASA
Amelioration ­ when a word develops a more positive meaning over time
Archaism ­ An old fashioned word or phrase that isn't used in present day English
Bidialectism ­ the ability of speakers to switch between two dialect forms, usually
Standard English and speaker's own regional variety
Blending ­ when parts of two words are combined the make a new one e.g. netizen,
Borrowing ­ When words from one language fall into common usage in another as a
result of contact e.g. globalisation
Broadening ­ when a word that has a specific meaning becomes more general over
Clipping ­ when a shortened version of a word becomes a word in its own right e.g.
demo, phone
Coining ­ creating new words
Compound ­ a new word created by combining two or more existing words e.g.
Connotation ­ the associations that are made with a particular word
Convergence ­ when one accent or dialect begins to use features that are common in
another because of language contact
Declarative sentence ­ a sentence that makes a statement to give information
Denotation ­ the literal meaning of a word
Descriptivism ­ the attitude that no use of language is incorrect and that the variation
should be described rather than corrected
Dominance model ­ Zimmerman and west ­ gender differences in conversations
reflect male dominance in society
Elision ­ when sounds or syllables are slurred together (letters are missed out of

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Ellipsis ­ when part of a grammatical structure is left out of a sentence without
affecting he meaning (words are missed out of sentences)
Euphemism ­ a word or phrase used as a substitute for harsher or more unpleasant
sounding words
Hedging ­ word choices that show uncertainty in conversations
Hyperbole ­ when exaggeration is used for effect
Idiom ­ a saying that doesn't make sense if interpreted literally e.g.…read more

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Pejoration ­ when a word develops a more negative meaning over time
Phatic language ­ expressions that have social functions rather than serious meaning
e.g.…read more


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