On conservativity

May 4, 2012 by

Some words, like fashion fads, appear in the language and disappear without a trace soon thereafter. Other words (and morphemes) are much more conservative. In this brief post, I will cite just two examples of highly conservative...

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The History of English Orthography

Dec 14, 2011 by

 BY VAISHNAV ARADHYULA (“Languages of the World”) It was the first day of seventh grade Spanish class, and the word “ghoti” was written on the blackboard. “Ghoti,” Señor Robles explained, spells fish. In English. “The...

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Shedding the mold

Nov 4, 2011 by

While we are on the subject of how word meaning may change, I’d like to consider another type of semantic change, the type dependent on the so-called “matrix”, or the particular situation in which the word is...

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Metaphor, synecdoche and language change

Nov 3, 2011 by

In the previous posting, I discussed various figures of speech, such as metaphor, metonymy and synecdoche, which make our everyday speech more colorful, more creative, more poetic even. However, the same figures of speech are also...

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More on word order, morphological types and historical change

Oct 24, 2011 by

In a comment to the previous posting, Venelina Dimitrova raised a number of interesting issues, which I thought it would be best to address in a separate posting rather than in the comment section. 1. Is there a correlation between...

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