Dialectal Differentiation
Language change through time,
space, and circumstances
Credits: This presentation is created by Dr. A.P. Church. It may be
used for educational purposes on condition of acknowledgment. The
author acknowledges the use of maps provided by the Ancient World
Mapping center, http://www.unc.edu/awmc/, which he has modified for
the purpose of this presentation. Other sources used in the
presentation are acknowledged upon use.
Insitutional Learning Outcomes:
I Critical Thinking
(About where, when, why, and how language changes)
II Communication and Technology
(Power point, WWW, and other electronic resources)
III Multicultural and Global Awareness
(The study of English and your English is a study of the socio-historical
contexts of many cultures that have shaped varieties of English)
IV Aesthetic Appreciation
(We can not appreciate literature without appreciating the language which
makes literature possible, but the study of language also allows us to
appreciate the various factors that shape its own form and content; the
history of English is a history of extraordinary diversity, power, and beauty
of language in a variety of social and historical contexts.)
V Discipline Content
(Understanding English literatures requires understanding English
languages)
These Outcomes are relevant to all of the English Program Outcomes because they
develop knowledge and skills necessary for critically reading, writing, and thinking
about language and literature.
Language is constantly changing
A basic precept of this course is the idea that language is
constantly changing. Since this course is about the history
of the English language, our ultimate goal is to apply this
precept to English and study how it has been and is
changing through time, space, and circumstances.
But language is not just a system of vocal signs by which a group
of humans communicate, it is also a system of vocal signs
by which an individual communicates at different times,
places, and circumstances. Before we look at the English
language historically, let’s examine how your language has
been constantly changing.
How has your language changed?
Relevant to time?
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I
became a man, I put away childish things. (Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians )
Relevant to space?
I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met; (Tennyson, “Ulysses”)
Relevant to circumstances?
I must remind you that you are not to interrupt me if I speak in my accustomed manner. . . . Men
of Athens, do not interrupt, but hear me; there was an agreement between us that you should
hear me out. (Socrates, in Plato’s Apology)
Language is shaped by time
The diachronic study of language is the study of how
language changes through time. It is the study
of historical change. Your language has changed
throughout time, and so has the English
language.
By studying the historical evidence of written
records, scholars have concluded that English, a
Western Germanic language, evolved over
thousands of years from a reconstructed ProtoIndo-European Language (*PIE).
PIE Time?
http://www.godecookery.com/twotarts/twotarts.html
14th Century English piemaking, courtesty of Monica Gaudio at
Godecookery.com; not exactly the pie we are looking for. The PIE we are
looking for is . . .
Scholars disagree on the number of distinct language groups evolving out of PIE;
I follow Cable and Baugh, who mention eleven distinct groups: Germanic, Celtic,
Balto-Slavic, Latin, Albanian, Hellenic, Hittite, Armenian, Tocharian, Iranian,
and Indian. Modern English evolves out of the West Germanic branch of the
Germanic group. The map approximates the location of descendents of these
language speakers today, but the languages evolved at different times since the
approximate date of PIE some 6000 years ago.
Comparative study of PIE languages began with Sir William Jones, who was an
official of the British empire in the late 18th century. Studying some of the oldest
known texts written in Sanskrit (an early form of Indian), Jones noticed there
were similarities between Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek. He theorized that they had
originated from a common mother language that has been lost—the Prototypical
Indo-European.
Comparison of PIE Languages: “to be”
Sanskrit
Latin
Greek
OE
MnE
asmi
sum
eimi
eom
am
asi
es
ei
eart
are (art)
asti
est
esti
is
is
smas
sumus
esmen
sindon
are
stha
estis
esti
sindon
are
santi
sunt
eisi
sindon
are
What similarities and differences do
you see in these forms?
Sanskrit
Latin
Greek
OE
MnE
asmi
sum
eimi
eom
am
asi
es
ei
eart
are (art)
asti
est
esti
is
is
smas
sumus
esmen
sindon
are
stha
estis
esti
sindon
are
santi
sunt
eisi
sindon
are
Comparison of PIE Languages:
common words
Sanskrit
Latin
Greek
OE
MnE
pita
pater
pater
fæder
father
bhratar
frater
phrater
broðer
brother
mata
mater
mater
modor
mother
padam
pedem
poda
fotu
foot
What similarities and differences do
you see in these forms?
Sanskrit
Latin
Greek
OE
MnE
pita
pater
pater
fæder
father
bhratar
frater
phrater
broðer
brother
mata
mater
mater
modor
mother
padam
pedem
poda
fotu
foot
Oxford English Dictionary: Etymology
Etymology is the study of word origins. Many dictionaries will
include an etymological explanation of a word to place it in
a historical context. The most reliable source for English
language word origins is the OED. It demonstrates the
history of the English word “Father” as follows:
[Com. Teut. and Aryan: OE. fæder corresponds to OFris.
feder, fader, OS. fadar, fader (LG., Du. vader, vaar), OHG.
fater (MHG. and mod.G. vater), ON. faeðr, -ir (Sw., Da.
fader, far), Goth. fadar (found only Gal. iv. 6, the ordinary
word being atta):OTeut. fader:OAryan pater. whence Skr.
pitr, Gr. πάτηρ , L. pater, OIr. athir.
Evidence for Language Change
From our personal experience we can observe
the differences in our language throughout
time from when we were children, teenagers,
and adults. Perhaps we have recordings or
videos of our speech from different periods
in our lives, or samples of our writing from
elementary school, high school, and college.
We also have the testimony of adults who
knew and know us.
Written Evidence
We don’t have recordings or videos
from hundreds or thousands of years
ago. Our evidence for observing the
change in historical languages comes
from written records of that language,
like the image of the first folio of
Beowulf manuscript to the right.
We can see differences in PIE
languages by comparing the written
language of early historical records.
We can see how a language like
English has changed through the Old,
Middle, and Modern English periods
by comparing this written evidence:
Image of Beowulf MS, Cotton Vitellius A.xv., British
Museum.
Lord’s Prayer Diachronically in English
Old English Period
Fæder ure, þu þe eart on heofonum,
si þin nama gehalgod.
Tobecume þin rice.
Gewurþe ðin willa on eorðan swa swa on
heofonum.
Urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us to dæg.
And forgyf us ure gyltas, swa swa we
forgyfað urum gyltendum.
And ne gelæd þu us on costnunge,
ac alys us of yfele. Soþlice.
Middle English Period
Oure fadir that art in heuenes,
halewid be thi name;
thi kyngdoom come to;
be thi wille don, in erthe as in heuene.
Yyue to vs this dai oure breed ouer othir
substaunce,
and foryyue to vs oure dettis, as we foryyuen
to oure dettouris;
and lede vs not in to temptacioun, but
delyuere vs fro yuel.
Amen.
Do you know the modern English version of this prayer? I’ll recite it as you read
either the OE or ME version. What kinds of changes can you see in the four
hundred years that separate the Old and Middle English English periods?
Language is also shaped by space
Space, in a sense, is geography. OED defines geography as
the “description of the earth's surface, treating of its
form and physical features, its natural and political
divisions, the climate, productions, population, etc., of
the various countries.” Throughout the term, we will
explore how these different geographical factors
influence change.
When speakers of a language move into a new space, they
often encounter features associated with the new region
which requires them to invent a new word or borrow a
word from a different language.
New Words for New Worlds
Although common words like father, mother, and brother may not necessarily
change as a result of geography, we do know that unique features of one’s
environment may result in different words being developed in different
languages. For instance, there were no words for jungle, mango, and crocodile in
the earliest Germanic and Slavic languages because the speakers of these
language groups lived in regions where there were no such things. Yet English
eventually acquired these words when it came into contact with languages that
had already found a need for them.
Jungle, Desert, Forest?
The OED explains that the word “Jungle” was borrowed into English
toward the end of the 18th century, but notice how even as it was
borrowed its meaning was changed to correspond to a geographical
feature of the Indian Subcontinent that the English were not
familiar with. The OED etymology of “jungle” is:
[a. Hindi and Marathi jangal desert, waste, forest, Skr. jangala dry, dry
ground, desert. The change in Anglo-Indian use may be compared
to that in the historical meaning of the word forest in its passage
from a waste or unenclosed tract to one covered with wild wood. In
the transferred sense of jungle there is app. a tendency to associate
it with tangle.]
1. In India, originally, as a native word, Waste or uncultivated ground (=
‘forest’ in the original sense); then, such land overgrown with
brushwood, long grass, etc.; hence, in Anglo-Indian use, a. Land
overgrown with underwood, long grass, or tangled vegetation; also,
the luxuriant and often almost impenetrable growth of vegetation
covering such a tract. b. with a and pl. A particular tract or piece
of land so covered; esp. as the dwelling-place of wild beasts.
Languages, Dialects, and Registers
The variations that emerge over time among people speaking
the same language but in different regions result in what
we call dialects. Eventually, dialects may become
recognized as new languages. Dialects and languages are
typically associated with particular places.
Language also changes to meet the particular needs of a given
situation. When we change our language to function in
different social settings, we speak in what are known as
different registers; these registers represent cultural
levels and functional varieties of English that we may use
at work or school, when being formal or informal, or
when speaking to a friend or a grandfather or a
professor or policeman.
What’s a Klinefelter?
Varieties of language that adapt to a contemporary time,
place, and circumstance are considered synchronic
rather than historical or diachronic. For instance,
spatial relationships may be intimate expressions of
a particular community. If you tell another Blue
Hawk that you saw some dude dressed like Buster
at Klinefelter, or if on the Kaibab crew-net I warn
someone: “be advised; there’s a widowmaker
hanging on the yellowbelly at Shoot ’em up Dick,”
whether or not we are understood depends on the
extent our language has been shaped mutually by
the same time, space, and circumstances.
Go Hawks!!!
(Shoot ’em up What?!?!)
Language changes in time and space
Just as your language has been changed by the peculiarities of
your experiences in time and space, English has changed
as a result of its contact with other places and cultures.
From its origins as an Indo-European language, through
its development as a form of Germanic known as
Western Germanic into its earliest historical form called
Old English, English has been constantly changing.
From the earliest historical evidence, we also see that there
were many dialectical differences between the AngloSaxon tribes that arrived from different regions of the
Continent to what was to become known as England.
Dialects
David Burnley says the following about Dialects (from Old
English: A Multimedia History):
“Dialects arise through the variation which is found in
languages according to the geographical locations in
which they are spoken. Variation may occur at all levels
of analysis, and include variety in everything from
accent to syntax and semantics. This basic conception
seems simple enough, but precise definition is less easy.
Variation due to social and stylistic differences may not
always be easy to distinguish from purely geographical
ones. And there are other uncertainties.”
Dialects
“A dialect is distinguished from the more widespread
form of the language by a set of local variants, but it is
often difficult to identify a geographical area for that
dialect. As we travel across the country, variants tend to
be replaced at different points. A Durham dialect sounds
more like a North Yorkshire dialect than a South
Yorkshire dialect. It is usually difficult to recognise a
clear border.”—David Burnley
The dialectal differences of the Angles and the Saxons that
settled in Northumbria and Wessex, respectively, may be
seen in the following comparison:
Caedmon’s Hymn in Different Regions
of Anglo-Saxon England
Northumbrian Dialect Version
Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard,
metudæs maecti
end his modgidanc,
uerc uuldurfadur, sue he uundra gihuaes,
eci dryctin, or astelidæ.
He aerist scop aelda barnum
heben til hrofe, haleg scepen;
tha middungeard
moncynnæs uard,
eci dryctin, æfter tiadæ
firum foldu,
frea allmectig
West Saxon Dialect Version
Nu sculon herigean heofonrices weard,
meotodes meahte and his modgeþanc,
weorc wuldorfæder, swa he wundra gehwæs,
ece drihten,
or onstealde.
He ærest sceop eorðan bearnum
heofon to hrofe, halig scyppend;
þa middangeard moncynnes weard,
ece drihten,
æfter teode
firum foldan, frea ælmihtig.
What differences can you see in the
Northumbrian and West Saxon
dialects of Caedmon’s Hymn?
Northumbrian Dialect Version
Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard,
metudæs maecti
end his modgidanc,
uerc uuldurfadur, sue he uundra gihuaes,
eci dryctin, or astelidæ.
He aerist scop aelda barnum
heben til hrofe, haleg scepen;
tha middungeard
moncynnæs uard,
eci dryctin, æfter tiadæ
firum foldu, frea allmectig
West Saxon Dialect Version
Nu sculon herigean heofonrices weard,
meotodes meahte and his modgeþanc,
weorc wuldorfæder, swa he wundra gehwæs,
ece drihten,
or onstealde.
He ærest sceop eorðan bearnum
heofon to hrofe, halig scyppend;
þa middangeard moncynnes weard,
ece drihten,
æfter teode
firum foldan, frea ælmihtig.
OE version of Caedmon’s Hymn
compared to a MnE Translation
Nu we sculon herigean heofonrices weard,
Now we must praise the Protector of the heavenly kingdom,
meotodes meahte ond his modgeþanc,
the might of the Measurer and His mind's purpose,
weorc wuldorfæder, swa he wundra gehwæs,
the work of the Father of Glory, as He for each of the wonders,
ece drihten, or onstealde
the eternal Lord, established a beginning.
He ærest sceop eorðan bearnum
He shaped first for the sons of the Earth
heofon to hrofe, halig scyppend;
heaven as a roof, the Holy Maker;
þa middangeard moncynnes weard,
then the Middle-World, mankind's Guardian,
ece drihten, æfter teode
firum foldan, frea ælmihtig.
the eternal Lord, made afterwards,
solid ground for men, the almighty Lord.
What Have You Learned?
I hope that this brief introduction has helped you
begin to understand how time, place and
circumstance have influenced language
change. We call this process of change
Dialectal Differentiation.
Dialectal Differentiation is a term that refers to
the process by which language changes over
time and space and circumstance. It is also
known as language variation or language
diversification.
Dialectal Differentiation
In its broadest application, dialectal differentiation
provides an explanation for how new languages
or dialects emerge from a common language. As
a group or groups of speakers of a common
language become separated from other speakers
of the same language, the process of change
begins as they are exposed to different
languages, dialects, and other stimuli that result
in changes in phonology, morphology, lexicology,
etc. that differentiate them from their original
language group over time and distance.
What else?
We also learned about how we can study a language
diachronically or synchronically, from historical
or contemporary perspectives.
We learned that there are differences between
languages, dialects, and registers.
We will continue to study how English is a language
with many historical and contemporary
varieties and how it has changed in morphology,
phonology, lexicology, and orthography.
Critical Thinking Questions
Purpose: To think critically about why and how language and languages change.
Questions: What kinds of changes have taken place in English since its *PIE origins?
How has western North Dakota shaped your dialect of English?
How does your language change when you are writing rather than speaking?
Do you have any other questions?
Evidence: What evidence to we have to answer the question?
Interpretations/Conclusions: How are we interpreting the evidence? What are our
conclusions?
Ideas, Concepts, Theories: Are there any particular theories or ideas that help us
understand the issue?
Assumptions: What assumptions or presuppositions do we have regarding the issue?
Implications/Consequences: If our interpretations or conclusions about the evidence
are correct, what are the implications and consequences of our thinking?
Dialectal Differentiation
Language change through time,
space, and circumstances
-The End-
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Dialectal Differentiation - University of Texas at Brownsville