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Language Change AQA Spec B Dr Atkins

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Dr Atkins

on 10 June 2012

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Transcript of Language Change AQA Spec B Dr Atkins

Language Change Revision
1700 - present day (Late Modern English)
Historical/Contextual /ideological (focus on the 1700s)
Rigid hierarchical class structure
(much less chance of 'upward mobility')
Prejudiced attitudes to lower classes, other races, women
Religion a driving social force
No system of universal education for all until 1870.

Seven Year War - 'a global military war between 1756 and 1763'
Battle of Waterloo 1815 (climax of Napoleonic war)
Great Britain became a major world power with the defeat of France in the Americas

Growth of British Empire - Conquest of India 1760
Industrial Revolution 1770-
Media in its infancy
Road to standardisation
Prior to printing press texts are hand written and are influenced by the regional dialect and accent of the scribe.
1476 - Printing Press brought to Westminster by Caxton -
The drive for standardisation that occurs in the 1700s is in many ways a reaction to the linguistic chaos which characterised the Early Modern English Period (1500-1700). During this period progressive writers like Shakespeare added to the English lexicon a whole host of new words, some of them the kind of 'neo-classical compounds' that were condemned as 'inkhorn terms' by critics.
1755 - Samuel Johnson’s ‘A dictionary of the English Language’ was published. – the first authoritative dictionary, includes words, their meanings, and how to pronounce them.
1762 - Robert Lowth’s ‘A short Introduction to English Grammar’ was published - implements such rules as “avoid ending a sentence which a preposition”.
18th Century – the age of dictionaries (Modern English) - prescriptive period in which language use seen as a reflection of an individual's character, an idea reflected in the books of Jane Austen.
By the end of the 1700s a standard has emerged that is recognisable to a modern reader.
1806 – Webster’s Dictionary published in America
1856-1928 - The period during which the OED is written
21st Century – Standard English becomes less important culturally speaking - 'Informalisation' (text speak, more like speech than writing, number and letter homophones etc)
Feature of Early (Late) Modern English (1700-1800)

Non standard orthography - Long s and non-standard capitalisation (words, often nouns, deemed important.
Dialect/accent influenced phonetic spelling often present - Johnson's Dictionary (1955) doesn't standardise orthography (spelling) over night.
Punctuation: non-standard usage, lots of semi-colons joining clauses.
Lexis– process of compounding ongoing - ‘To morrow’ becomes to-morrow become tomorrow. archaic words. obsolete words ('compter'), Triglossia – OE (simple), French (sophisticated), Latin (scholarly) Inkhorn terms/neoclassical compounds
Word creation – abbreviations (clipping), compounds, lexical, neologisms Borrowings (Empire), Americanisms ; Neologisms; Science/Medicines – Borrowings (one language to another) – Eponyms (The name of a person after whom something is named) – Propriety names (The name given to one product and used universally) – Clippings (shortens an existing word) etc.
Syntax – Nuanced differences in terms of word order (auxiliary verb to do enters English during Early Modern English Period) still occasionally used erratically in early 18th texts. Sentences tend to be long and complex includes a range of embedded subordinate clauses.
Punctuation – pretty much standardised by the 18th Century. Expansion of punctuation characters enter language - semicolons very common. Virgules '/' have by this point been replaced by the comma. Lots of formal punctuation marks semi-colons, colons.
Pragmatics - Class, Power
Prescriptivism & Descriptivism
This is the view that the English language has specific rules that we should follow when either speaking or listening, and that there is “good” English and “bad” English. Also that one variety of language has more value (prestige) than another and everyone should keep to this standard. Spelling accurately and using grammar properly are important.
HistoryIn the 18th century “the age of prescriptivism” Many writers appealed for an academy of English to be set up amid fears over the speed of change in the language and that there was a lack of official control over it.

This is the view that the language is changing constantly and we shouldn’t judge others for using spoken or written language in a non-standard way. There are many varieties of language in use and this adds to English rather than destroying its value.

Jean Atchinson 1996: Damp spoon syndrome: Language changes because people are lazy, like leaving a damp spoon in the sugar bowl, which is vulgar and in bad taste. This view presupposes that one type of language is inferior to another.
Crumbling castle view: Language is like a beautiful castle that must be preserved. However, language has never been at a pinnacle and a rigid system is not always better than a changing one
Infectious disease assumption: Bad/poor language is caught like a disease from those around us and we should fight it; nut people pick up language changes because they want to, perhaps in order to fit in with certain social groups.
Old English - approximately 75% of the short, simple words used in English today come from Old English
Middle English - the arrival of the Normans in 1066 leads to English becoming 'triglossic' - formed of three strands of language: Old English (lowest formality)/French (medium formality)/Latin(highest formality)
Early Modern English - Renaissance brings biggest ever influx of new words into the language as a consequence of developments in exploration, advances in medicine, science and the arts.
The legacy of previous linguistic eras
Acronyms: A lexicalised word made up from the initial letters of as phrase (sounded as a word): RADAR, NATO
Initialism: A word made from initial letters, each being pronounced: CD, RSPCA.
Clipping: A new word produced by shortening an existing one: exam
Affixation: the result of adding an affix to free morpheme
Prefixes - the affix becomes before the free morpheme
Suffixes - the affix comes after the free morpheme
Conversion: the process whereby a word changes its word class: bin (noun) becomes bin (verb)
Compound: the combining of separate words to make a new word: green house, green- house, greenhouse.
Back formation - the removal of an imagined affix from any existing word - edit (verb) from editor (noun).
Blend/portmanteau word: two words are merged leading to the omission of some letters: codger - a blend of coffin and dodger; smog - a blend of smoke and fog.
New Word Creation
Concepts linked to semantic change
amelioration - the process whereby words acquire more positive meanings over time:
pejoration - the process whereby words acquire negative meanings over time. Stupid used to mean 'stunned'; in the 1540s it came to mean 'mentally slow'.
broadening: the process whereby words broaden their meaning over time.
narrowing: the process whereby a word's meaning narrow over time: during the OE period, 'meat' referred to any food stuff. Over time, it has narrowed to mean 'the flesh of animals as used for food'.
Misellaneous Language terms
Idiom: a phrase that has a figurative meaning that is separate from the literal meaning or definition of the words from which it is made. E.g. 'Over the moon.'

hyperbole: exaggeration for rhetorical effect: 'I'm starving!'

Litotes: Understatement used for rhetorical effect: Saying 'quite good' instead of 'excellent.'

Acronym: a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words, as Wac from Women's Army Corps, OPEC from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or loran from long-range navigation.
Brief overview of history of English Pre-1700

500BC – 45AD Celts living in the British Isles invaded by Latin speaking Romans. Romans stay until mid 5th Century.

450 Romans depart and leave country open to attack from Anglo Saxon tribes who invade and conquer Celts. Legacy of OE: mass of short, simple words and grammatical function words remain in Late Modern English.

The arrival of St. Augustine in 597 and the introduction of Christianity into Saxon England brought more Latin words into Old English.

9th Century Vikings conquer much of the east of England and establish the Danelaw.

1066 Norman Conquest – Norman French becomes language of government. Lots of French and Latin words enter the English. Legacy of ME - Triglossia becomes a feature of English.

1476 Process of standardisation begins at the end of the Middle English period with the introduction of Caxton’s printing press in Westminster.

1500-1700 Early Modern English period – is defined by the Renaissance - a period in which a mass of new words flood into the language because of new developments in science, philosophy, the arts etc. The need for new words led to an influx of ‘inkhorn terms’ (‘an obscure, affectedly or ostentatiously erudite borrowing from another language, especially Latin or Greek’ ) which contributed to growing instability in the language.
Model Answer extract - written by Y13
June 2010 Paper. Language Change Question 4

Both texts are about a cup final, however, one is a printed souvenir edition published three days after the match and the modern text was published on a website seconds after the final whistle. The older text will therefore have been drafted and redrafted and this in conjunction with more formal register common in the early part of the 20th century means that it seems unusually formal to a twenty-first century reader. The 1934 Man City fans would have seen these conventions are normal Conversely, in the newer text the register is more like speech than writing at times, not least because it is being written near spontaneously and so little time for redrafting is available. The instantaneous nature of web publishing means that Caroline Cheese needs to be quickly and regularly updating her website article, a technological advance not possible in 1934. Because of advances in technology, the modern text allows those not able to watch the match to experience it as it happens. That the audience is potentially enormous and international is another key difference between the texts. The Manchester Evening Chronicle is a local paper with a predominantly Mancunian audience due to its distribution channels .
The first obvious ideological factor impacting on the text is in regards to class (power). In text I, the opinions of the game come from (white?) men with titles such as ‘Lord’, ‘Chief’ and ‘Chairman’. On the other hand text J solicits ‘comments’ from the general public. The more democratic dimension of the modern text is in keeping with the ways in which attitudes to those in power have shifted in the latter part of the twentieth story – it would no longer be appropriate for football pundits to be selected from the aristocracy. That managers are now referred to by diminutive forms of their names (‘Bevo’) suggest a much more intimate relationship between modern fans and those that control the game. No mention is made of social prestige in the modern text.
Change over time also links to language choices present in both articles. Because the editors and contributors to the Manchester Chronicle would almost certainly have held prescriptivist views of language, very few Non Standard English features appear in their comments – ‘lads being a rare example of slang in the article. In fact the 1934 extracts are conspicuously not like speech. No non-fluency features are present and only one contractions is present in the older text – don’t. Syntax is also more like writing than speech in Chronicle.

The ball did not run well for us but our lads were always fighting and I think Tilson’s goals were wonderful.

Whilst this does include two examples of coordination (a feature of spoken syntax) it also includes subordination which creates a sophisticated compound-complex sentence. This use of long complex sentence contrasts with the modern article which includes lots of minor and simple sentences – ‘Great stuff’ (simple) ‘This is the best moment of my life’
Given that the texts are commenting on a specific football match the extensive presence in both articles of words from the lexical field of football is unsurprising. Both texts include Standard English.
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