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Why Do Languages Change?

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  • The first recorded English name for the make-up we now call blusher was paint, in 1660. In the 1700s a new word, rouge, displaced paint, and remained in standard usage for around two centuries. Then, in 1965, an advertisement coined a new word for the product: blusher. Each generation speaks a little differently, and every language is constantly changing. It is not only words that change, every aspect of a language changes over time - pronunciation, word-meanings and grammar. Packed with fascinating examples of changes in the English language over time, this entertaining book explores the origin of words and place names, the differences between British and American English, and the apparent eccentricities of the English spelling system. Amusingly written yet deeply instructive, it will be enjoyed by anyone involved in studying the English language and its history, as well as anyone interested in how and why languages change.

    • No prior knowledge of the subject is required
    • Includes examples from many languages with primary attention given to changes in English
    • Each chapter is sufficiently independent of the others to be read on its own
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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2010
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9780511763878
    • contains: 8 b/w illus. 11 tables
    • availability: Adobe Reader ebooks available from eBooks.com
  • Table of Contents

    1. How do languages change?
    2. Why are languages always changing?
    3. Where do words come from?
    4. Skunk-Leek – my kind of town: what's in a name?
    5. Where does English come from?
    6. Why is American English different from British English?
    7. Why is English spelling so eccentric?
    8. Which is the oldest language?

  • Author

    Larry Trask
    R. L. Trask was a world authority on the Basque language and on historical linguistics. He wrote both academic and popular books, notably on grammar, punctuation, and English style and usage. His publications include Language: The Basics (1995) and Mind the Gaffe (2001). At the time of his death in 2004, he was Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sussex.

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