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Language Change and Linguistic Theory, Volume IApproaches, Methodology, and Sound Change$
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D. Gary Miller

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199583423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583423.001.0001

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Motivations of Language Change

Motivations of Language Change

(p.123) 5 Motivations of Language Change
Language Change and Linguistic Theory, Volume I

D. Gary Miller (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Motivations of Language Change. Various factors motivate change in different components of the grammar and lexicon. Contact is a major catalyst, being the epitomous alteration of the triggering experience. A contact or socially motivated change can have different properties from one that is functionally motivated or whose origin is abductive in nature, e.g. reanalysis, which always involves a surface ambiguity. This permits the acquirer only certain options for an analysis, but the one selected must still be motivated. Like all other changes, unless categorically prompted or externally sanctioned, reanalyses need not be realized as language changes, which prompts a discussion of the interacting tensions between continuity and innovation. The second half of the chapter treats Danish‐English contact in northeast England and the death of Anglo‐French in medieval England.

Keywords:   grammar, lexicon, language contact, reanalysis, surface ambiguity, continuity, innovation

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