How Language Continues To Change Essay

826 words - 4 pages

Language, like anything else, is in a state of continuous change. Language change takes place when a generation of speakers produces linguistic expressions that differ from previous generations of speakers. With every generation, words are borrowed from other languages, new words are invented, meanings of words change, and pronunciation of some words is altered. The process of language change might be slow or fast. However, as changes accumulate over time, the old and new language will extremely vary. For instance, symple, an old English word, is changed to simple. Also, speche is changed into speech. Language change is classified into typologies, like semantic change, sound change, lexical change, spelling change, syntactic change and other changes that play a role in the change of language overtime.
Semantic change, also called semantic drift, progression, or shift, is the change of word usage, usually to the point that the new meaning is completely different from that of the old meaning. It is a gradual shift in the conventional meaning of words to new meanings. An example of such shift is the word awful. The conventional meaning of awful is awe-inspiring, but it gradually shifted to describe an unfavorable quality such as very bad. Semantic change is classified into different typologies. The first traditional typology of semantic change is narrowing/restriction. It is the change in the meaning of a word, by which it becomes less general and inclusive. For example: skyline used to refer to a horizon, but its meaning is restricted to refer to a horizon decorated with skyscrapers. Moreover, the word meat referred to any type of food. However, its meaning has gradually narrowed to refer to animal flesh.
The second traditional classification of semantic change is widening. It is the opposite of narrowing. Widening is the change in the meaning of the word where it becomes more general and inclusive. For example, dog used to refer not to any kind of dog, but to some specific large and strong breeds. However, the development of the English word dog is widened to refer to any breed of dog, not just necessarily large and strong breeds. Another example is the middle English word bridde which referred specifically to small birds, but now it is widened to refer to all winged creatures.
The third dimension on which certain semantic changes may be classified is whether they result from metaphor or metonymy. Metaphor in semantic change is based on the similarity...

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