As people interact with each other, it naturally leads to changes in how communication takes place. Fortunately, there are several views that attempt to explain in a systematic way how language changes. In general, there are at least 3 viewpoints on how language changes. These viewpoints are
- Group to group
- Style to style
- Word to word
In this post, we will look at each of these viewpoints on language change.
Group to Group
The group to group hypothesis sees language change like a wave in a lake. The changes originates from one or more groups and slowly spreads to other groups. This happens because different groups interact with each other. Furthermore, many people are members of more than one group and bring the language they use in one group to another.
Style to Style
The style to style hypothesis suggest that language changes as there are shifts between language styles. For example, from a formal way of speaking to a colloquial way of speaking and vice versa.
A change in the language that is seen as prestigious is usually from a higher more affluent section of society. Of course, the opposite is also true and un-prestigious language change comes from the least fortunate.
The style of a speaker also changes over time. The younger the person is the more they use vernacular and slang in general.
Word to Word
There are times in which individual words will change within a language and this change will spread to other languages. This is known as lexical diffusion.
Such a change can take decades and even century to take place. It is also common when two languages interact through mutually changing each other pronunciation. Such as the role of French in England for several centuries.
It is not so much that any of the examples discussed here are exclusively responsible for change. Rather, all of these examples play varying roles in influencing changes in a language.