Living languages constantly change, but though we have developed an understanding of actualisation – the way in which change spreads through a language (e.g. De Smet 2012) – and propagation – the way change spreads through a population (e.g. Labov 2001), the answer to the question of why change happens in the first place has proven elusive. As McMahon (1994: 225) puts it: ‘the actuation problem, sadly, will remain as mysterious as ever’ (cf. Walkden 2017).