Some theoretical Prerequisites for the Integrated Study of Linguistic “Macrochange”

  • Enrique BernárdezEmail author


The term macrochange (following the example of macroevolution as used in evolutionary theory) is here proposed to characterize changes affecting several areas of a language at the same time with a unitary cause, inside or outside language proper. A general theoretical model for this type of change will be proposed. As a case study, a set of changes in Icelandic will be analysed that lead to the creation of a widespread system for the marking of the agents’ or experiencers’ responsibility, evidentiality, etc., and that affect the lexicon, morphology, syntax and discourse. This macrochange will be defined in the terms of the integrated view of language and language change proposed here, which makes it necessary to adopt and develop the methods and concepts of complexity theory as applied to language. From this perspective, ‘language’ has to be taken to include not only structures and usage, but the whole ‘ecological niche’ where it exists and is in use by human beings in specific cultural and historical situations; it is to be viewed as a complex natural phenomenon.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversidad ComplutenseMadridSpain

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