Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: September 2009

2 - Formal and functional motivation for language change

Summary

Introduction

The goal of this chapter is to sort out the roles that ‘formal’ and ‘functional’ factors have been said to play in language change. An immediate challenge is to provide these two terms with enough content so that there is no uncertainty about what specifically is at stake in any explanation of a change that incorporates one of these two terms. It is not uncommon, for example, to encounter statements in the literature such as: ‘Formal pressure was responsible for the loss of instrumental case in English’ or ‘Grammatical oppositions with a low degree of functionality are more likely to be lost than those with a high degree.’ Unfortunately, such claims are often not accompanied by a sufficiently precise characterization of the notions ‘formal pressure’ or ‘degree of functionality’ to allow them to be adequately evaluated. Our first task, therefore, is to specify as precisely as possible what a ‘formal explanation’ and a ‘functional explanation’ might consist of.

Throughout this chapter a ‘formal explanation’ will designate one in which principles governing the organisation of grammars are said to play a central role. A ‘functional explanation’, on the other hand, refers crucially to properties of language users, in particular to their interest in producing and comprehending language rapidly, to their states of consciousness, or to aspects of their behaviour.

References
Anderson, Stephen R. 1985. Phonology in the twentieth century. University of Chicago Press
Aske, Jon. 1998. Basque word order and disorder: principles, variation, and prospects. Amsterdam: John Benjamins
Bybee, Joan L. 1985. Morphology: a study of the relation between meaning and form. Typological Studies in Language 9. Amsterdam: John Benjamins
Bybee, Joan L. and William Pagliuca. 1985. ‘Cross-linguistic comparison and the development of grammatical meaning’, in Jacek Fisiak (ed.), Historical Semantics and Historical Word Formation. Berlin: de Gruyter, 59–83
Campbell, Lyle. 1975. ‘Constraints on sound change’, in K.-H. Dahlstedt (ed.), The Nordic Languages and Modern Linguistics, vol. 2. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell, 388–406
Campbell, Lyle. 1997. ‘Approaches to reanalysis and its role in the explanation of syntactic change’, in Linda van Bergen and Richard M. Hogg (eds.), Papers from the 12th International Conference on Historical Linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 57–8
Campbell, Lyle. 1998. Historical linguistics: an introduction. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Chomsky, Noam and Morris Halle. 1968. Sound pattern of English. New York: Harper and Row
Clark, Robin and Ian, Roberts. 1993. ‘A computational theory of language learnability and language change’, Linguistic Inquiry 24: 299–345
Croft, William. 1995. ‘Autonomy and functionalist linguistics’, Language 71: 490–532
Croft, William. 2000. Explaining language change: an evolutionary approach. London: Longman
Crowley, Terry. 1994. An introduction to historical linguistics, 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press
Dik, Simon C. 1986. ‘On the notion “functional explanation”’, Belgian Journal of Linguistics 1: 11–52
Dik, Simon C. 1989. The theory of functional grammar, part 1: The structure of the clause. Functional Grammar Series 9. Dordrecht: Foris
Dressler, Wolfgang U. 1985. ‘On the predictiveness of Natural Morphology’, Journal of Linguistics 21: 321–37
Fintel, Kai. 1995. ‘The formal semantics of grammaticalization’, North Eastern Linguistic Society 25 (part 2): 175–90
Gabelentz, Georg von der. 1891. Die Sprachwissenschaft: ihre Aufgaben, Methoden und bisherigen Ergebnisse, Leipzig: Weigel
Givón, Talmy. 1979. On understanding grammar. New York: Academic Press
Greenberg, Joseph H. 1963. ‘Some universals of language with special reference to the order of meaningful elements’, in Joseph H. Greenberg (ed.), Universals of language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 73–113
Gussenhoven, Carlos and Haike Jacobs. 1998. Understanding phonology. London: Arnold
Haiman, John. 1983. ‘Iconic and economic motivation’, Language 59: 781–819
Halle, Morris. 1962. ‘Phonology in generative grammar’, Word 18: 54–72. Reprinted in J. A. Fodor and J. Katz (eds.), The structure of language: readings in the philosophy of language, 1964, Englewood-Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 344–52
Harris, Alice C. and Lyle Campbell. 1995. Historical Syntax in Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 74. Cambridge University Press
Haspelmath, Martin. 1993. ‘The diachronic externalization of inflection’, Linguistics 31: 279–309
Haspelmath, Martin. 1999a. ‘Are there principles of grammatical change?’ (Review article of The development of language by David Lightfoot), Journal of Linguistics 35: 579–95
Haspelmath, Martin. 1999b. ‘Optimality and diachronic adaptation’, Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 18: 180–205
Hawkins, John A. 1994. A performance theory of order and constituency. Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 73. Cambridge University Press
Hombert, Jean-Marie, Ohala, John J. and Ewan, William G.. 1979. ‘Phonetic explanations for the development of tone’, Language 55: 37–58
Jakobson, Roman 1971 [1928]. ‘The concept of the sound law and the teleological criterion’, in R. Jakobson (ed.), Selected writings, vol. 1: Phonological studies. The Hague: Mouton, 1–2
Jakobson, Roman 1971 [1929]. ‘Remarques sur l'évolution phonologique du russe comparée à celle des autres langues slaves’, in R. Jakobson (ed.), Selected writings, vol. 1: Phonological studies. The Hague: Mouton, 6–116
Kenstowicz, Michael. 1994. Phonology in generative grammar. Oxford: Blackwell
King, Robert D. 1969. Historical linguistics and generative grammar. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
Kiparsky, Paul. 1968. ‘Linguistic universals and linguistic change’, in Emmon Bach and Robert Harms (eds.), Universals in linguistic theory. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 170–202
Kiparsky, Paul. 1982. Explanation in phonology, Dordrecht: Foris
Kiparsky, Paul. 1988. ‘Phonological change’, in Frederick J. Newmeyer (ed.), Linguistics: the Cambridge survey, vol. 1: Linguistic theory: foundations. Cambridge University Press, 363–415
Kiparsky, Paul. 1995. ‘The phonological basis of sound change’, in John A. Goldsmith (ed.), The handbook of phonological theory. Oxford: Blackwell, 640–70
Labov, William. 1974. ‘On the use of the present to explain the past’, in Luigi Heilmann (ed.), Proceedings of the Eleventh International Congress of Linguists, vol. 2. Bologna: Società Editrice il Mulino, 825–52
Labov, William. 1987. ‘The overestimation of functionalism’, in René Dirven and Vilém Fried (eds.), Functionalism in linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 311–32
Labov, William. 1994. Principles of linguistic change, vol. 1: Internal factors. Language in Society 20. Oxford: Blackwell
Lakoff, Robin T. 1972. ‘Another look at drift’, in Robert P. Stockwell and R. K. S. Macaulay (eds.), Linguistic change and generative theory. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 172–98
Lass, Roger. 1980. On explaining language change. Cambridge University Press
Lass, Roger. 1997. Historical linguistics and language change. Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 81. Cambridge University Press
Lightfoot, David W. 1979. Principles of diachronic syntax. Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 23. Cambridge University Press
Lightfoot, David W. 1988. ‘Syntactic change’, in Frederick J. Newmeyer (ed.), Linguistics: the Cambridge survey, vol. 1: Linguistic theory: foundations. Cambridge University Press, 303–23
Lightfoot, David W. 1991. How to set parameters: arguments from language change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Lightfoot, David W. 1995. ‘Grammars for people’, Journal of Linguistics 31: 393–9
Lightfoot, David W. 1999. The development of language: acquisition, change, and evolution. Blackwell/Maryland Lectures in Language and Cognition 1. Oxford: Blackwell
Martinet, André. 1952. ‘Function, structure, and sound change’, Word 8: 1–32
Martinet, André. 1955. Economie des changements phonétiques. Bern: A. Francke
McMahon, April M. S. 1994. Understanding language change. Cambridge University Press
Milroy, James and Harris, John. 1980. ‘When is a merger not a merger? The meat/mate problem in a present-day English vernacular’, English World-Wide 1: 199–210
Milroy, Lesley. 1987. Language and social networks, 2nd edition. Oxford: Basil Blackwell
Newmeyer, Frederick J. 1998. Language form and language function. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Newmeyer, Frederick J. 2001. ‘Where is functional explanation?Chicago Linguistic Society 37: 146–59
Niyogi, Partha and Robert C. Berwick. 1995. The Logical Problem of Language Change, A. I. Memo 1516. Cambridge, MA: MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Ohala, John J. 1974. ‘Phonetic explanation in phonology’, in Anthony Bruck, Robert A. Fox and Michael W. La Galy (eds.), Papers from the Parasession on Natural Phonology. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society, 251–74
Ohala, John J. 1981. ‘The listener as a source of sound change’, in Carrie S. Masek, Roberta A. Hendrick and Mary Frances Miller (eds.), Papers from the Parasession on Language and Behavior. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society, 178–203
Ohala, John J. 1987. ‘Explanation in phonology: opinions and examples’, in Wolfgang U. Dressler, Hans C. Luschützky, Oskar E. Pfeiffer and John Rennison (eds.), Phonologica 1984. Cambridge University Press, 215–25
Paul, Hermann. 1891. Principles of the history of language, translation of 2nd edition. London: Longmans, Green and Co
Postal, Paul M. 1968. Aspects of phonological theory. New York: Harper and Row
Roberts, Ian. 1993. ‘A formal account of grammaticalization in the history of Romance futures’, Folia Linguistica Historica 13: 219–58
Shapiro, Michael. 1985. ‘Teleology, semeiosis, and linguistic change’, Diachronica 2: 1–34
Shapiro, Michael. 1991. The sense of change: language as history. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
Sweet, Henry. 1900. The history of language. London: J. M. Dent and Co
Traugott, Elizabeth C. 1969. ‘Toward a theory of syntactic change’, Lingua 23: 1–27
Traugott, Elizabeth C. and Smith, Henry. 1993. ‘Arguments from language change’, Journal of Linguistics 29: 431–7
Vennemann, Theo. 1973. ‘Explanation in syntax’, in John Kimball (ed.), Syntax andsemantics, vol. 2. New York: Seminar Press, 1–50
Weinreich, Uriel, William Labov and Marvin I. Herzog. 1968. ‘Empirical foundations for a theory of language change’, in W. Lehmann and Y. Malkiel (eds.), Directions for historical linguistics. Austin: University of Texas Press, 95–188
Wurzel, Wolfgang U. 1989. Inflectional morphology and naturalness. Kluwer: Dordrecht