Understanding Language Change: Phonetics, Phonology and Child Language Acquisition.
TEXAS UNIV AT AUSTIN
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Language change is a phenomenon that has fascinated scholars for centuries. As a science, linguistic theory has evolved considerably during the 20th century, but the overall puzzle of language change still remains unsolved. Linguists have reconstructed proto-languages, observed and documented phonological, morphological, and syntactic change, demonstrated how languages have changed over time, and in a general sense even explained why certain language changes have occurred at certain times. What still remains a mystery however is how language change actually takes place. Whether we are talking about phonological, morphological, or syntactic change, it is difficult to identify the specffic points in time where language change occurs. Unlike time-lapsed photographs of plants that provide us with a visual representation of the plants growth, language change is something we cannot capture with the lens of a camera and see happen before our very eyes. Due to the multifaceted nature of language and the various internal and external factors that bring about change, pointing to a specific point in time where language has changed has thus far not been possible.