Language Change Theories

Three main theories for language change study.

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  • Favours rules that identify 'correct'  language use and disapproves of those who break the 'rules' which govern the English Language.
  • Can be either arguing for decay of progress.
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Language Decay

  • 'The history of the Aryan languages is nothing but a gradual process of decay' - Max Muller
  • Can be used for all types of change, to argue it is a loss of the old rules and standards, leading to a decay of the language.
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Language Progress

  • The belief that language change is beneficial and makes our language simpler and easier to understand.
  • 'In the evolution of languages the discard of old flexions goes hand in hand with the development of simpler and more regular expedients that are rather less liable than the old ones to produce misunderstandings.' - Otto Jesperson 1922.
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  • Does not label uses of language as correct or incorrect - merely seeks to objectively describe how language is used.
  • It is neither progressing nor decaying, it is just simply changing.
  • 'Progress in the absolute sense is impossible, just as in morality or politics. It is simply that different states exist, succeeding each other, each dominated by certain general laws imposed by the equilibrium of the forces with which they are confronted. So it is with language.' - Joseph Vendryes.
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