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Thu May 3, 2012, 08:50 AM

Isn't there some law in linguistics that says words tend to evolve toward whatever is


easier to pronounce?


(yeah, I could google but with search words like these I'd retrieve way too much.)

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Reply Isn't there some law in linguistics that says words tend to evolve toward whatever is (Original post)
raccoon May 2012 OP
Igel May 2012 #1
Odin2005 May 2012 #2
Starboard Tack Jun 2012 #3
Odin2005 Jun 2012 #4
Starboard Tack Jun 2012 #5
ghjfhgf Sep 2012 #6
ghjfhgf Sep 2012 #7

Response to raccoon (Original post)

Thu May 3, 2012, 06:44 PM

1. Not a named one, as far as I know.

It's a mixed bag.

Frequent, common words that are long tend to be pronounced quickly. Quick pronunciations tend to lose distinctions in consonants and vowels, they tend to be clipped or the consonants weakened. "Fast" and "easy to pronounce" are usually the same.

This is an old generalization. Bybee's notion of token-based phonology (which means a token-based kind of language acquisition) provides a way of implementing this kind of change.

This doesn't work with some very short, grammatically essential words, IIRC. If you need them, you don't reduce them beyond some minimum.

Oddball words and words that signal high-style tend to be preserved. In many cases we find ways to make "formal" mean "more syllables" by adding additional endings or finding larger expressions to merge them with.

That's at the word level.

At the level of the sound system, mergers happen at the expense of distinctions (this is one of Bartoli's norms and while it's a universal tendency it obviously isn't the whole story). For example, t/d merge in flapping. /a/ and "open o" (Don, dawn) are pretty much merged in American English.

It's also the case that consonants more often undergo lenition--weakening, in a sense--than strengthening or "fortition." Not all consonants are equally subject to lenition. Consider how AAVE "bad" and "bat" are often pronounced with an unreleased or even absent final consonant. Spanish /d/ is probably best seen as an interdental voiced fricative.

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Response to raccoon (Original post)

Sun May 6, 2012, 07:19 PM

2. Language change is a battle between laziness and comprehensibility.

Laziness causes sound changes that destroy grammatical word endings. the need for comprehensibility leads to the creation of new function words (Like English's helper verbs and prepositions) and then laziness turns the function words into new word endings.

An example is the Future Tense in most Romance languages, which originated out of a fusion of the infinitive and the present form of "have" in late Latin

So Latin amare habeo became Spanish amaré, "I will love you". Notice how the stress in the Spanish verb is on the word ending that developed from "habeo".

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #2)

Fri Jun 1, 2012, 10:47 PM

3. I thought the future in Romance languages was formed by a fusion of to go (eo)

and the infinitive. "I am going to love you"

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Response to Starboard Tack (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 12:04 PM

4. Nope, it's from Habere.

It's given as an example in several books I have.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #4)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 02:44 PM

5. Interesting

And yet in all Romance languages and English we use the present tense go with the infinitive to imply future tense.

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Response to raccoon (Original post)

Sat Sep 15, 2012, 04:55 PM

6. Spam deleted by Paulie (MIR Team)

 

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Response to raccoon (Original post)

Sat Sep 15, 2012, 04:56 PM

7. Spam deleted by Paulie (MIR Team)

 

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