1. Language change and language history
Language is continually changing. Some people may not be aware of this fact, since language change is often slow and hardly perceptible. Probably, innovation will become most noticeable in the field of lexis, when new words are coined to designate new ideas, facts or activities. A few decades ago, nobody would have used the verbs google or download in the sense that is quite common for us in the year 2013. In the same way, hundreds or even thousands of new words have been added to the English language in the past fifty years. But language change also affects spelling, pronunciation, grammar and language use, and here it may be more difficult to actually “observe” change in the period of a lifetime. In fact, many people will be convinced that the English they use every day is basically immutable as regards its grammatical structure and pronunciation. However, this is far from correct. In the course of its history, English has undergone quite dramatic changes, but in order to see and “appreciate” them we must go back five hundred or even one thousand years and look at the texts which have come down to us.
Below are two short extracts which may illustrate some of these changes. The first text excerpt (example 1) stems from the second half of the tenth century, that is, from the Anglo-Saxon period. Anglo-Saxon or Old English is often called a form of English which is mainly incomprehensible to most native speakers...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.