Saturday, January 27, 2007
On the Evolution of Language
On the Evolution of Language: And hence, I ponder, how is it that words have changed over time? Much like humans, the languages that we employ as a means of communication and expression have evolved with time. Meanings, sounds, and structure all tend to comprise the most fundamental changes that have occurred to languages. New words are born and old words die, but for the most part, many words simply morph. The meanings of words often evolve and when the linguistic phenomenon known as "semantic change" happens; the ideas that the words reflect change as well. The sounds of words also change with time and when the linguistic phenomenon known as "phonetic change" occurs; languages tend to diverge from somewhat common ancestral roots. For example, English is a Low Germanic language that broke off from its Germanic origins around the fifth century AD. The last basic area of language evolution concerns the linguistic field of morphology. This body refers to the physical changes that have happened to the structure of words over time. That is, morphology regards the addition and subtraction of various prefixes and suffixes to words as they evolve over time.