How and why do languages change? Where does the evidence of language change come from? How do languages begin and end? This introduction to language change explores these and other questions, considering changes through time. The central theme of this book is whether language change is a symptom of progress or decay. This book will show you why it is neither, and that understanding the factors surrounding how language change occurs is essential to understanding why it happens. This updated edition remains non-technical and accessible to readers with no previous knowledge of linguistics.
After many years lecturing with the University of London (at the London School of Economics and Political Science), Jean Aitchison was Professor of Language and Communication at the University of Oxford (1993-2003) and is now an Emeritus Professor. She is the author of a number of books on language, including The Language Web (Cambridge University Press, 1997).
Part I. Preliminaries: 1. The ever-whirling wheel; 2. Collecting up clues; 3. Charting the changes; Part II. Transition: 4. Spreading the word; 5. Conflicting loyalties; 6. Catching on and taking off; 7. Caught in the web; 8. The wheels of language; 9. Spinning away; Part III. Causation: 10. The reason why; 11. Doing what comes naturally; 12. Repairing the patterns; 13. Pushing and pulling; Part IV. Beginnings and Endings: 14. Language birth; 15. Language death; 16. Progress or decay?