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Making the invisible uninvisible: the role of analogy in language change

Language change is said to be caused by analogy when one expression changes under the influence of another similar expression. As an explanation of change, however, analogy has often been criticized because – taking place in speakers’ minds – its operation is invisible and seems impossible to prove. This project tries to make specific predictions about change, which should hold if change is analogically-motivated, aiming to find independent evidence of the operation of analogy. This is to be done through a set of case studies on the historical development of English adnumeral markers, which are markers that modify a numerical expression (e.g. 'about' in 'after about five hours they could speak to each other on the radio'), and whose long-term developments involve formal and semantic changes that are arguably analogically-motivated. To demonstrate analogy at work, the project will examine the stages of change, its speed, priming effects, and effects of individuals’ grammars on change.
Date:1 Oct 2018  →  Today
Keywords:Analogy, Language change, Individual variation, Priming, Gradualness
Disciplines:Linguistics, Theory and methodology of linguistics, Other languages and literary studies