Language Change Terms

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

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