Historical Linguistics - Historical Linguistics Core...

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Historical Linguistics
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2 Core Linguistics    Interfaces… Psychology Engineering Medicine Computer science Anthropology Sociology Cultural Studies Literature Languages CORE LINGUISTICS Phonetics Phonology Syntax Morphology Semantics Pragmatics History
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3 How language changes over time… Everything changes over time; language is no exception… Language usually changes very slowly so we hardly notice the extent of this change; Words vs grammar change: what is easier to observe? Have you noticed any language changes yourself?
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Historical Linguistics Historical linguistics describes language change and searches for clues as to why that change took place. Language change does not happen in a random fashion. Like almost everything in language, it is rule-governed. Historical linguistics tries to discover the rules of language change: sound change & grammatical change. 4
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5 Historical linguistics: goals We can really only study the evolution of language as far back as the written records go, which is not that far… Human ability to speak: hundreds of thousands years (300,000 years???) Oldest writing systems: 5,000-6,000 years old… In-between: pictorial representations of reality…
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6 First attempts at communications… The Painted Gallery in the Lascaux Cave in South- Eastern France was discovered by four teenagers in 1940. Pictures date back to Paleolithic period (some 40,000 years ago?). These representations are not considered linguistic as they are not based on words- sounds but on real world objects.
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7 Compare these to the idea of a rebus: Rebus Principle is using the existing visual or linguistic symbols, e.g. pictograms, purely for their sounds regardless of their meaning, to represent new words. Many ancient writing systems used this principle to represent abstract words .
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8 History of English Old English (ca 450-1100), Middle English (1100 - 1500), and Modern English (1500- to the present). What was before the year 450? How do we know?
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9 THE TALE OF THE WIFE OF BATH Chaucer, 1380
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10 Compare: Modern English: Now in the olden days of King Arthur, Of whom the Britons speak with great honour, All this wide land was land of fairy. The elf-queen, with her jolly company, Danced oftentimes on many a green mead; Middle English: In th'olde dayes of the Kyng Arthour, Of which that Britons speken greet honour, All was this land fulfild of fayerye . The elf-queene , with hir joly compaignye, Daunced ful ofte in many a grene mede .
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11 What has changed? Sound change: greet great Morphological change: Plural speken speak Word order change: all was this land… Meaning change: ful ofte very often Which type of change is easiest to observe?
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12 Language change: Words Word meaning: starve die from hunger steorfan (O.E.) die dogge (M. E.) specific breed dog (hypernym)
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This note was uploaded on 07/23/2008 for the course HUMANITIES LINGUISTIC taught by Professor Thomas during the Winter '08 term at McMaster University.

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Historical Linguistics - Historical Linguistics Core...

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