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Re: Language Change

From:Ed Heil <edheil@...>
Date:Friday, January 7, 2000, 0:43
Nik Taylor wrote:

> raccoon@ELKNET.NET wrote: > > 1) Are there any trends or statistical norms with respect to how long it > > takes certain aspects of language to change (morphology, syntax,
> > etc.)? My plan for Dhak is to start with one language that branches out
> > daughter languages, and perhaps even they will branch out. I'm wondering > > what time spans would be realistic for different kinds of changes.
> > Dhak is spoken on another planet, but I want to make the years there to
> > pretty close to the length of Earth years. However, the speakers tend to > > live longer than humans, so perhaps language change would be slower than
> > is on Earth?) > > The speed of linguistic change is quite variable. Icelandic, for > instance, has hardly changed at all in the past thousand years, while > I've heard of Australian languages which have changed dramatically in > just 20 or so years, to the point where a man who'd left his tribe for > 20 years had slight difficulty being understood.
All very true. There's a special reason for Australain aboriginal languages to change so quickly though: taboo. When someone dies, you must never say his name again, *or any word that sounds like his name.* So if I, Ed, died, you could never say the words "head" or "edit" again, and maybe not even "education" depending on how strict you wanted to get. You'd have to borrow a replacement word from a neighboring langauge or use a synonym or make a new word up completely. Sometimes you can revive an old word if its replacement in turn gets tabooed, but not if you're going to be really strict about it. This insures RAPID lexical change! --------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------