Historical linguistics
Mutability
• Dialectal differences
• Stages of English
• Symbolic shifts
Linguistic study
• Reconstruction
• Language families
Origins
• Lexical, social, and cognitive theories
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
History of English
far out … outasite …
groovy… rilly [really] …
sweet … sick … dude …
Aetalects!
[age-based group
speech differences]
cool … hip …
keen … neat
… swell
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Early modern English
I am no orator, as Brutus is;
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him:
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men's blood
Julius Caesar, c1599
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Middle English
Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
yadda, yadda, yadda
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
The Canterbury Tales, c1380
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Middle English (Northumberland)
Regiolects!
Si† en †e sege and †e assaut
watz sesed at Troye,
[geographically-based
Sociolects!
group
differences]
†e speech
bor° brittened
and brent
to brondegroup
and askez,
[class-based
differences]
†e tulk †at †e trammesspeech
of tresoun
†er wro°t
Watz tried for his tricherie, †e trewest on erthe
Ethnolects!
The Green Knight, c1380
[tribal-based group
speech differences]
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Language variation
!
English 306A; Harris
Different
persons growing
up in the same
Language
variation
language are like different bushes trimmed and
trained to take the shape of identical
elephants. The
anatomical details of twigs and
Idiolects!
branches will fulfill the elephantine form
differently from bush to bush, but the overall
outward results are alike.
W.V.O. Quine
English 306A; Harris
Old English
Nu sculon herigean
heofonrices weard,
meotodes meahte, and his
modge†anc,
weorc wuldorfæder, swa he
wundra gehwæs,
ece drihten, or onstealde.
Caedmon’s hymn, c670
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
1066
English 306A; Harris
Modern English
Substratum (under-level)
Germanic (Angles, Saxons etc.)
king, law, deer, cow, cock, piss,
…
Superstratum (over-level)
Latinate (Norman French)
monarch, justice, venison,
beef, penis, urinate, …
English 306A; Harris
Mutability
Language change
Internal
(isolation, fashion,
prestige, …)
External
(trade, war,
imperialism, …)
Phonological
Morphological
Lexical
Syntactic
Semantic
English 306A; Harris
Semantic change
(hyponym / hypernym swap)
hypernym
dog
…
poodle
hound
spaniel
…
hyponym
Toy, French, … Grey, Blood, … Springer, Cocker, …
English 306A; Harris
hypernym
hyponym
Semantic change
(hyponym / hypernym swap)
Modern English
Middle English
hypernym
dog
…
poodle
hound
spaniel
…
Toy, French, … Grey, Blood, … Springer, Cocker, …
hyponym
… dogge
hound
hypernym
poodle
hyponym
spaniel …
Mastiff, Basset, … Toy, French, … Springer, Cocker, …
dog
hound
hound
dogge
English 306A; Harris
Phonological change
Middle English Modern English
night
knight
knee
name
cough
…
[nIFt]
[knIFt]
[knij]
[nQm´]
[kAF]
English 306A; Harris
[nAit]
[nAit]
[nij]
[nejm]
[kAf]
Morphological change
Singular first
second
third
Plural
Present
drÿge
drÿgst
drÿgþ
drÿgaþ
Infinitive, drÿgan
Past participle, gedrÿged
Present participle, drÿgende
English 306A; Harris
Past
drÿgde
drÿgdes
drÿgde
drÿgdon
Morphological change
Singular first
second
third
Plural
Present
dry
dry
dries
dry
Infinitive, to dry
Past participle, (has) dried
Present participle, (is) drying
English 306A; Harris
Past
dried
dried
dried
dried
Lexical changes
Mayhaps
Hark
Cad
Elden
Burdalane
Sweltersome
Clyte
Tofu
Interface
Robot
Radar
Sandwich
Mutton
F-bomb
English 306A; Harris
Syntactic change
Good even,
Casca:
brought you
Caesar home?
Good
evening,
Casca: did
you bring
Caesar home?
English 306A; Harris
Mutability
Subtotal
History of English
• Periods
• Events
Pressures to change
• Internal/external
• Aeta-, regio-, socio-, ethno-lects
Types of change
•
•
•
•
•
Semantic (e.g., dog/hound)
Phonogical (e.g., “cough”)
Morphological (e.g. ‘levelling’)
Lexical (words come, words go)
Syntactic (Yes/no question formation)
English 306A; Harris
Origins and varieties of languages
Reconstruction
• Contrast and compare
• Proto-languages
Language families
• Indo-European
• Pre-Indo-European
Origins
• Lexical theories
• Language theories
English 306A; Harris
Philology
• Looking at texts for
noteworthy
signifier/signified
linkages
• Contrast and compare
English 306A; Harris
Philology, reconstruction, and language families
Grimm’s Law
English
German
father
mother
brother
sister
king
milk
meat
Vater
Mutter
Bruder
Schwester
König
Milch
Fleisch
English 306A; Harris
Philology, reconstruction, and language families
Grimm’s Law
English
German
Latin
Sanskrit
Modern
Old
father
faeder
Vater
pater
pitar
mother
modor
Mutter
mater
matar
fisc
Fisch
pisces
patan
fish
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Philology, reconstruction, and language families
Grimm’s Law
English
German
Latin
Sanskrit
Modern
Old
father
faeder
Vater
pater
pitar
mother
modor
Mutter
mater
matar
fisc
Fisch
pisces
patan
fish
/f/
Homo
sapien #1
/p/
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Philology, reconstruction, and language families
Grimm’s Law
/p/—>/f/
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Philology, reconstruction, and language families
Proto-Indo-European
(*PIE)
Grimm’s
Law
hypothetical,
Proto-Germanic
reconstructed
language
languages
English
German
Proto-Italic
Proto-Indic
Latin
Sanskrit
Modern
Old
father
faeder
Vater
pater
pitar
mother
modor
Mutter
mater
matar
fisc
Fisch
pisces
patan
fish
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Language families
Germanic
Italic
Indic
G e rm a n
Lat in
Sa ns k ri t
Families
En g lish
Mo de rn
O ld
fat her
faed er
Va te r
pa te r
pi ta r
mo th e r
mo d o r
M u tte r
m at er
m ata r
fish
fisc
Fisc h
pi sc e s
pa tan
English 306A; Harris
Philological
evidence
Indo-European
Germanic
Italic
Indic
G e rm a n
Lat in
Sa ns k ri t
Families
En g lish
Mo de rn
O ld
fat her
faed er
Va te r
pa te r
pi ta r
mo th e r
mo d o r
M u tte r
m at er
m ata r
fish
fisc
Fisc h
pi sc e s
pa tan
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
Philological
evidence
You are
here
Indo-European family
English 306A; Harris
Bow-wow theory
Language arose from
onomatopoeia (iconic)
Making noises to represent
elements in the environment:
animals, rain, expulsive gas,
…
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Pooh-pooh theory
(AKA the ouch theory)
Language arose from
spontaneous emotional
noises (indexical)
Sighs, moans, cries,
ejections of surprise, fear,
delight, …
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Bow-wow & pooh-pooh theories
• Lexical theories
• Nothing about syntax
• Nothing about phonology,
morphology, …
• Not mutually exclusive
English 306A; Harris
Yadda, yadda, yadda
… that language evolved among
humans to replace social
grooming because the grooming
time required by our large
groups made impossible
demands on our time. Language,
I argue, evolved to fill the gap
because it allows us to use the
time we have available for social
interaction more efficiently.
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Yo-he-ho theory
Language arose in
muscular and rhythmic
efforts accompanying
group work (indexical)
Gathering, distributing,
distance-pursuit of prey, …
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Hmmmmm theory
…a prelinguistic musical mode of
thought and action
Communicative system
QuickTime™ and a
decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
Homo
sapien #1
Holistic
Rhetorical
Multimodal
Rhythmic
Melodic
Mimetic
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
Throwing madonna theory
• Nursing (left-side)
• Motor/linguistic
sequencing
• Structural
• Non-lexical
• Piggy-backing theory
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
[The origin of language
may have to do with]
certain physical laws
relating to neuron packing
or regulatory mechanisms.
Homo
sapien #1
Neuron
packing
theory
English 306A; Harris
To be, or not to
be. That is the
question.
You are
here
Language origins: sub-total
• Bow-wow and pooh-pooh
• Lexical
• Social
• Throwing Madonna, Neuron-packing
• Non-lexical
• Cognitive
• Yadda-yadda-yadda
• Non-lexical
• Social
• Ye-ho-ha, Hmmmmm
• Non-lexical
• Cognitive-Social
English 306A; Harris
Historical linguistics
Languages change over time
• External (war, imperialism, trade, …)
• Internal (fashion, prestige, isolation, …)
Types of changes
• Semantic, phonological, morphological, lexical, …
Genealogical relationships
• Reconstructed proto-languages
• Language families
Language origins
• Lots of guesses, no clear solutions
• Lexical, social, and cognitive variants
Homo
sapien #1
English 306A; Harris
You are
here
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History of English - University of Waterloo