Linguistic Change

Part of the Kommunikation und Kybernetik in Einzeldarstellungen book series (COMMUNICATION, volume 2)


If language is defined as a code, or more accurately, as a set of codes, applied on different levels of human communication and intercourse, linguistic change may be called a code-shift. If a thorough knowledge of the code on the part of sender and receiver is one of the indispensible conditions for language to function, another condition must be that the code remains identical with itself from one moment to another. This is in principle undeniable. A conclusion to be drawn from these premisses is that a changing language is a contradictio in adiecto. Only thanks to the fact that language does not change are we able to use it as our principle means of communication. E pure si muove.


Language Change Person Plural Latin Amare Sound Change Phonetic Group 
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Bibliographical Notes

  1. Linguistic change is discussed in old handbooks of general linguistics of traditional orientation. The strictest application of structural principles made hitherto is Martinet’s “Économie”. Cp. the important contribution to the problem synchrony — diachrony made by E. Coseriu in “Sincronia, dia-cronia e historia”, 1958. Other important works on “historical phonemics” than Martinet’s have been published by e.g.Google Scholar
  2. A. G. Haudricourt and A. G. Juilland, “Essai pour une histoire structurale du phonétisme français”, 1949; byGoogle Scholar
  3. H. Weinreich, “Phonologische Studien zur romanischen Sprachgeschichte”, 1958; byGoogle Scholar
  4. H. Lüdtke, “Die strukturelle Entwicklung des romanischen Vokalismus”, 1956; and byGoogle Scholar
  5. B. Sigurd, “The Code Shift in Old Norse” /Studia linguistica XV, 1961, pp. 10 – 21/. — The role of distribution in phonemic change was studied by Rebecca Google Scholar
  6. R. Posner in “Consonantal Dissimilation in the Romance languages”, 1961. My results on Spanish phonetic change have been reported in several articles (e.g. “Le passage castillan f > h — perte d’un trait redondant?” /Mélanges linguistiques offerts à Emil Petrovici par ses amis étrangers à l’occasion de son soixantième anniversaire, 1958, pp. 337 – 343/; and “La structure phonétique de quelques langues romanes” /Orbis XI, 1962, pp. 160–162/, etc.). An example of a structural explication of sound shifts was given in my article “A propos d’un fait de phonétique historique castillane” /Lingua XI, 1962, pp. 276 – 279 [also Studia gratulatoria dedicated to Albert Willem de Groot in the year of his seventieth birthday]/. — The problems of sound change and sound laws as well as the numerous problems connected with them have been discussed in more detail in my book “New Trends”, Chap. I, with references. A general survey was given byGoogle Scholar
  7. E.H. Sturtevant in “Linguistic Change”, 1942, and “An Introduction to Linguistic Science”, 1947; byGoogle Scholar
  8. W.P. Lehmann in “Historical Linguistics”, 1962, etc.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ArtsUniversity of LundSweden

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