Language Change Terms

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DescriptionTermExample
Changes in pronunciation of words
A word’s meaning changed based on an analogy or likeness between things Crane becuase it looks like a bird
Obsolete words or phrases Enow (enough)
Shortening an existing word Laboratory > Lab
When a words meaning changes into something more pleasant or positive 'Pretty' once meant sly or cunning, now means attractive
Modern drive to replace words and expressions that are considered offensive or demeaning to disadvantaged or minority groups'Mixed-race', replacing 'half-caste'
When a word becomes more specific in meaning Meat originally denoted food in general not just animal flesh
Particular brand associated with particular product Hoover for all vacuum cleaners
When the meaning of a word broadens Dog was a particualr breed, but now includes all breeds
Two words combined to form a new word Laptop; Blackbird
Mild or inoffensive way of describing something distasteful or unpleasant 'Friendly Fire' or 'Cashflow problem'
A word (usually a noun) shortened to form a word of another type (usually a verb)Edit from Editor
When the pronunciation of a phoneme is affected by the phoneme that is next to it 'Sandwich' pronounced 'Samwich' 'n' changes to 'm' as 'w' makes an 'm' sound easier to pronounce
People who disapprove of uses of language that break ‘correct’ language rules
Phrases formed from previously existing words 'In the doghouse', 'Over the moon'
The movement towards a stable language culminating in Dr. Johnson’s dictionary in 1755
Words losing semantic potency Astound from meaning 'strike with thunder' to meaning 'strongly suprised'
General term for a new word
Creation of a new word not derived from any other word
DescriptionTermExample
Change in word class To Contest (verb) > A Contest (noun)
Parts of usually two words joined together Smog; Motel
Dramatic and important example of sound change between 1400-1600
Words formed from initial letters of existing words NATO
Adding prefixes or suffixes 'Micro'Wave; Sex'ism'
Words taken from other languages Soprano (Italian) Lager (German) Alcohol (Arabic)
Words losing some of their original force over time 'Soon' now means in the near future, but used to mean immediately
Words gaining stronger semantic potency Kill from meaning 'to torment' to its current meaning
When two words have similar meaning and one has to adapt or disappear Camelopard v Giraffe
People who do not lable particular uses of language ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ but seek to describe as accuarately as possible how language is used
Words such as chit-chat; clip-clop; criss-cross
The addition of new words to our vocabulary or old words falling out of use
When we change language to make it more consistent
New word formed by shortening an existing word Advert from Advertisement
When sounds disappear from words No longer pronounce the b in 'Thumb' or 'Tomb'
Words deriving from names of people/places Not really a technical term, just say what you see
When meaning of a word becomes less favourable 'Impertinent' once meant irrelevant, now means rude
Words remaining in use but changing meaning

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Created Jun 17, 2011ReportNominate
Tags:description, example, term