Perceiving evolution in a language
Posted: 07 November 2017 03:14 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Thanks to the increasing availability of large corpora of words, interesting theories are emerging on the evolution of language.

Luck plays a role in how language evolves, team finds

I am though still struggling with any accurate definition of ‘luck’ or randomness!

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Posted: 07 November 2017 03:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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"Linguists usually assume that when a change occurs in a language, there must have been a directional force that caused it,” said Joshua Plotkin, professor of biology in Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences and senior author on the paper. 

Is this true? Do linguists assume this?

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Posted: 07 November 2017 05:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I have to really read the journal article (I’ve just skimmed it), but one thing jumps out at me. They have artificially selected verbs that have both a regular and irregular past tense forms in modern English and examined those. In those, they found no overarching selective force over the last eight centuries. They’ve artificially picked out anomalous verbs and found there was no explanation for the anomaly. To really determine what is going on, you have to look at all the verbs (or a representative sample). If they had done that, I think the results would have said that, yes, there is a powerful selective force toward regularization. What they’ve done is cherry pick the odd ones and confirm that they’re odd. Maybe there’s something more subtle and interesting going on, but my first glance doesn’t leave a good impression.

Is this true? Do linguists assume this?

For the most part. That’s the whole raison d’etre for historical linguistics. But there are always exceptions, words that defy the trend, and I think most linguists have always acknowledged that which words will buck the trend is indeterminate.

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Posted: 07 November 2017 07:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I have only read the Science Daily summary, which could be totally botched, but based on that and in addition to what Dave says, the dive/dove bit, impelled by the invention of the automobile and drive/drove--this just reeks of being a Just So story.  Also, how did people get around in wagons and buggies, if not by driving them?

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Posted: 07 November 2017 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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”...the dive/dove bit, impelled by the invention of the automobile and drive/drove--this just reeks of being a Just So story.  Also, how did people get around in wagons and buggies, if not by driving them?”

OED

drive, v.
Etymology: A Common Germanic verb, of first ablaut series: Old English dríf-an, dráf, plural drifon, drifen, (corresponding to Old Saxon drîƀan, Old Frisian drîva, Dutch drijven), Old High German trîban (German treiben), Old Norse drîfa (Swedish drifva, Danish drive), Gothic dreiban; draib, dribum; dribans. Not represented outside Germanic.
The Old English inflection is regularly represented by the current forms. In the past tense, however, the northern drave long held the field (as in the Bible versions) against the southern drove; the ablaut plural drĭven became obsolete in 15th cent. A new past participle droven, drove, after the past tense, was also long used by some instead of driven.
dive, v.
Brit. /dʌɪv/
,
U.S. /daɪv/
Forms:  α. OE dúfan, ME duven; β. OE dýfan, ME duve(n /y/, ME diven, ME–15 (18dial.) deve, ... (Show More)
Frequency (in current use):  http://www.oed.com/frequencybandinformation/5
Etymology: Old English had two verbs: (1) the primary strong verb dúfan , past tense déaf , plural dufon , past participle dofen , intransitive to duck, dive, sink; (2) the derivative causal weak verb dýfan , dýfde , gedýfd to dip, submerge. Already in 12th cent. these had begun to be confounded, the primary dūven (past tense deæf , dêf , past participle doven ) being used also transitive, and the causative dȳven intransitive, so that the two became synonyms, and before 1300 the strong verb became obsolete, dȳven (s.w. düven , s.e. dēven , midl. and north dīven ) remaining, chiefly in the intransitive sense of the Old English strong verb Of the compound bedive , the past participle BEDOVE adj. came down to 16th cent. in Scots Only traces of this verb are found in the cognate languages: Old Norse had dýfa to dip (also in same sense deyfa); Middle Dutch had bedûven, past participle bedoven, modern Dutch beduiven = Old English bedúfan. These belong to an Old Germanic ablaut series deuƀ-, dauƀ-, duƀ-, secondary form of deup-, daup-, dup-, to dip, submerge < pre-Germanic stems (weak-grade) dhup-, dhub-, respectively.
The s.e. deven gave the later deeve, deave, dieve; the modern dialect past tense dove is apparently a new formation after drive, drove, or weave, wove.
(Bold emphasis mine)

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Posted: 07 November 2017 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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That’s my point.  The act of driving, nor the name given it, was not new with the automobile.

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Posted: 07 November 2017 05:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Yes, good pick up, Logophile. Drove is a lot older than dove.

Drive was a strong verb, in this sense, from the 13th century onward at least.

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