Understanding Language Change

Understanding Language Change

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How and why do language changes begin; how and why do they spread; and how can they ultimately be explained? This new textbook sets out to answer these questions in a clear and helpful way which will be accessible to all students with an elementary knowledge of linguistics. In the first half of the book Dr McMahon analyses changes from every area of grammar. In the second she addresses recent developments in socio-historical linguistics, and looks at such topics as language contact, linguistic variation, pidgins and creoles, and language death. Throughout the discussion is illustrated by a wealth of examples from English and other languages. Understanding Language Change will be welcomed by students as a follow-up to such introductory books as Jean Aitchison's Language Change: Progress or Decay?, also published by Cambridge University Press.show more

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Review quote

"...an admirable review and summary of research and theory of language change over the last two centuries..." Language "Understanding Language Chnage is a clear and coherent guide to many of the complex issues of contemporary historical linguistics...the book provides an excellent overview of many of the topics involved in language change...Understanding Language Change provides a solid introduction to many of the concerns of sociolinguistics, and in fact would be equally useful as a beginning guide to the issues involved in langiage contact...Understanding Language Change is a well thought out book which should be read by all students of historical linguistics...It is an excellent text, which covers important issues and debates in a disarmingly clear and lucid manner...It is a pleasure to read and shouls encourage students of language change to delve further into the literature." Paula West, Wordshow more

Table of contents

Preface and acknowledgements; 1. Introduction; 2. Three views of sound change; 3. Sound change 2 - the implementation problem; 4. Morphological change; 5. Syntactic change 1 - the Transparency Principle; 6. Word order change and grammaticalisation: language change and general laws; 7. Semantic and lexical change; 8. Language contact; 9. Linguistic variation; 10. Pidgins and creoles; 11. Language death; 12. Linguistic evolution?; Bibliography; Index.show more