Perspectives on Historical Linguistics: Papers from a by Winfred P. Lehmann, Yakov Malkiel

By Winfred P. Lehmann, Yakov Malkiel

This quantity offers seven large essays through experts of their respective fields of ancient linguistics. the 1st essay after the advent states the rules awarded in Directions for old Linguistics (1968) and assesses the growth made seeing that then in the direction of developing a common idea of language switch. just like the following essays on phonology and morphology, it poses new questions that experience arisen within the more and more bold learn. old cognizance to discourse, the subject of the subsequent essay, is almost new, notwithstanding it too reveals predecessors between philologists who committed themselves to texts. eventually, essays deal with etymology, one targeting the carefully investigated Romance box, the opposite on Indo-European, in particular on new insights brought on through consciousness to Hittite.

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Extra resources for Perspectives on Historical Linguistics: Papers from a Conference Held at the Meeting of the Language Theory Division, Modern Language Assn., San Francisco, 27–30 December 1979

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2. Paradoxes and problems of linguistic change A general theory is constructed from answers to general questions about the object of interest; these questions in turn depend upon an accepted definition of the object, usually cast in structural-functional terms. Language is defined in the broadest terms as a 22 WILLIAM LABOV system for transforming information held by one person into a form that can be symmetrically decoded and interpreted by others. ". The" answer we are looking for is the mechanism that carries out this transformation.

The empirical principles of normal heterogeneity and linguistic community permit us to transform the primary question in a way that resolves the paradoxes implicit in the pursuit of the idiolect. " will include the ability of speakers to deal with the heterogeneous elements of language structure. " This reformulation of the primary synchronic question forms an essential background to our approach to a theory of language change. The existence of language change within a speech community creates even more serious problems for those who work with the expectation of a homogeneous structure.

It works in several different ways. The first step in the construction of a general theory of this type is then not uniquely determined. As WLH pointed out, there is an implicit contradiction between the structuralist view of language and the facts 23 BUILDING ON EMPIRICAL FOUNDATIONS of change: as linguists became more and more impressed with the systematic character of language structure, it became increasingly difficult to conceive of change within that system. For a dynamic phenomenon like language change, the primary question is one of cause rather than function, not "How does it work"?

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