Language Change Over Time

Language Change Over Time

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  • Created by: Candice
  • Created on: 29-03-11 10:08

Lexical Change

Borrowing: Words are taken from another language
‘Alcohol’ (Arabic) ‘Lager’ (German)

Affixation: Adding pre-fixes and suffixes ‘mega’ and ‘micro’

Compounds: Whole words are combined to form new words ‘laptop’ ‘earring’

Blend: When parts of the word are joined together ‘smog’ smoke & fog

Conversion: When the word class of an existing word changes
noun to verb ‘a bottle’ ‘to bottle’ verb to noun ‘to contest’ ‘a contest’ ‘adjective to verb ‘to open door’ ‘open door’

Clippings: Words formed by shortening e.g. ‘ad’ à ‘advert’

Black formation: a word of one type (usually a noun) is shortened to form another (usually a verb) e.g. editor = to edit, donation = to donate, burglar = to burgle

Acronyms: words from the initial letters if existing words

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Semantic Change

Broadening: when the meaning of a word broadens, retains its old meaning but takes on a new meaning
- ‘holiday’ ‘holy day’ a day of religious importance, now it means a day without work

Narrowing: opposite of broadening. A word or phrase becomes more specific
- ‘Meat’ meant food in general, not just animal flesh

Amelioration: Change gives a word more positive/pleasant meaning
- Wicked still means evil but also a modern slang word for ‘good’ ‘superb’
- ‘That’s sick’

Pejoratation: Opposite to amelioration. Word/phrase that becomes less favourable more negative
- Impertinent originally meant ‘irrelevant’ but now means rude

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Semantic Change

Weakening: Word lose force of strength over time
- ‘Soon’ means some time in the near future but once meant immediately

Metaphor: Word quire new meanings because they begin to be used metaphorically
- ‘Hawks and Doves’ refers to not just to birds but also to politicians and peace bringers
- ‘Catch the bus’ started out as a metaphor now a idiom

Idiom: Phrases formed by previously existing words that become commonly known
- ‘In the doghouse’

Euphemisms: A mild or in offensive was of describing something as distasteful or unpleasant
- Cash flow problem
à Lack of Money
- Collateral Damage à Civilian Casualties

Political Correctness: - Drive to replace words and expressions that are considered offensive/demanding to disadvantage groups and minorities
- ‘People with learning difficulties’ instead of ‘mentally handicapped’
- Actor’ refers to both men and women

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Inflections the extra letter or letters added to nouns, verbs and adjectives in their different grammatical forms. Nouns are inflected in the plural, verbs are inflected in the various tenses, and adjectives are inflected in the comparative/superlative.e.g. buses, happening, buys.

Pronouns A pronoun can replace a noun or another pronoun. including the personal pronoun, the demonstrative pronoun, the interrogative pronoun, the indefinite pronoun, the relative pronoun, the reflexive pronoun.

Syntax Syntax deals with the relation of words to each other as component parts of a sentence, and with their proper arrangement to express clearly the intended meaning.

Double Negatives When using the negative form of a verb (e.g. He isn't working ..., They aren't going to ...) do not use a negative quantifier such as nobody, nowhere, etc. They aren't going anywhere special. NOT They aren't going nowhere special.

Questions a sentence in an interrogative form, addressed to someone in order to get information in reply.

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Values and Attitudes





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Jessica Sparey


It's 'back formation' not 'black formation'. 

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