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PRINCIPLES OF LANGUAGE CHANGE

PRINCIPLES OF LANGUAGE CHANGE

Essay

 

1. “Any given linguistic event is the result of complex interaction between levels of language and between language itself and the sociohistorical setting in which it is situated” (Jeremy Smith 1996: 5). Discuss this statement with reference to a linguistic change in the history of English of your choice.

2. “Although historical investigation may be subsequent to synchronic analysis, since it involves the comparison of successive synchronic states, an adequate linguistic theory must involve a diachronic dimension, and synchrony and diachrony are intertwined” (McMahon 1994: 11). Analyse the significance of paying attention to synchronic and diachronic matters in relation to a linguistic change in the history of English of your choice.

3. “In general, the lexicon is most easily and radically affected [by borrowing], followed by the phonology, morphology and finally the syntax.” (McMahon 1994: 209). Discuss this statement in relation to the influence of two languages of your choice on English.

4. Select a change that the English language underwent in the past and a comparable change that it is undergoing at the present, and compare and contrast the two processes. Please note that the changes can be associated with the whole language or with a particular variety.

5. Explain how language contact, due to either migration or invasion, can promote language change. Draw your examples from the contact between English and two other languages of your choice.

6. “Standardisation is motivated in the first place by various social, political and commercial needs and is promoted in various ways, including the use of the writing system, which is relatively easily standardised; but absolute standardisation of a spoken language is never achieved” (Milroy and Milroy 1999: 19). Discuss in relation to the process of standardisation of the English language.

7. English, particularly Middle English, is sometimes said to be a creole. Explain the factors that have led some linguists to make such claim and discuss the adequacy of that interpretation.

8. You can make up your own essay title, but you need to make sure that it has Dr Pons-Sanz’s approval
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