The prehistory of English
Decay or not decay overall, the "sound laws" are the decaying factor, the replacement strategies are the repairing factor.
For instance, using diminutives as such is neither decay, nor repair, but invention.
How do you like - if you read Latin - this dialogue with the salsarii but also the "avicellus habet finum beccum" of Lugdunum?
En lengua romance en Antimodernism y de mis caminaciones : Dialogus Temporibus Romanis
Sound laws, as they are misnamed, i e sound changes that start out as voluntary vanity but end up as ignorance of older speech (and worse: of older spelling, in some cases, speech being less important from before tape recorders), as estrangement from those preserving it, sometimes also erode useful distinctions.
Solem and solum remain reasonably distinct to this day in Italian and Spanish, but in Gaul there was a time when both were pronounced about as very slow pronunciation of sôle (hope you enjoy that fish!).
Soliculum which had been as funny as "Brother Sun" became the standard word instead of "solem" - hence soleil.
A repair strategy had decayed a fun word to an ordinary word and that had been necessary when a decay of final vowel distinctions had decayed a phonetic distinction to a context based distinction between oral homophones, if not homographs.
So, whether language change is overall repair or decay, it is certainly a change that involves both - in various proportions. Repair is btw obviously conscious, depending on consciousness of meaning and consciousness of an arisen ambiguity.
shoures soote = pluie douce?
Doux can be used first (douce France), but general tendency might have beenn especially in Aquitaine rather than Normandy, N-A rather than A-N.
In other words, foreign language influence is not limited to lexical items. Whatever the Jung Grammarians used to say.
And the word gay retained a certain decent meaning to the days when CSL let Puddleglum till Jill and Eustace to be "gay and frolic" ... (Silver Chair).
Its new meaning is definitely a reason for cultural pessimism!
Common source. Very philosophically stated.
Mother language, like Archaic and Popular Latin to Romance?
[Meant Vulgar Latin]
Mutual adstrate/Sprachbund, like Balkanic similarities?
Common superstrate language like banalised Classic Latin = Medieval Latin to West European (Romance, Germanic or Celtic) languages?
Common adstrate language of lingua franca nature? Like Romani on diverse slang (both Swedish and Spanish have the gipsy words chey and choor- (-ing/-o) on a certain social level) or Occitan (on a higher social level) on Middle Age court languages?
ALL of above qualify as "common source", precisely as in another field both "common ancestor" and "common Creator" are a "common source" for undeniable similarities.
determining similarities between languages is not necessarily proving a genetic relationship, as the known one between Latin and French/Occitan/Spanish/Italian.
On Balkan you have vocabulary and grammatical similarities crossing over independently of genetic supposed distant and obvious non-relationship between Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian, Albanian, formerly Turkish.
Genitive/Dative merger "I gave his a book=I gave him a book" of Greek/Romanian originating probably from Latin feminines. Post-posed articles in Romanian and Bulgarian, possibly Albanian which I know very little about. Lexical items all over Balkan. Etc.
k > ? >> ? > k (!?)
[Is k > glottal stop examples much greater than glottal stop to k in occurrence !?]
How many times has either [process] been observed in real time, neither [variant of word] being a *[reconstructed form]?
Of the h in nihil there are two outcomes. Nîl (disappears and identic vowels around simplify hiatus to prolongation) and Medieval nikil. An Englishman like Alcuin would have said nihil with a Germanic h, excepting Cockney, and a Romance speaker in Gaul would have struggled to imitate it and have come up with k.
I can think of one situation in which 0 > h. Epenthetic for hiatus avoidance.
Precisely as one can also have 0 > w, 0 > j if one vowel in hiatus is either back rounded or front high.
But for this to be as plausible as h > 0, I would like to check if Tongan does avoid hiatus. If it doesn't, agreed.
The four Polynesian languages are not subject to doubt. They are perhaps as close as Nordic with Tongan in Icelandic position or Westic, with Tongan in German position (excepting the Second sound shift). At least if the thirteen words are representative of vocabulary.
But there are certainly Balkanic (or a little further East partially inthis example) similarities too. Think of Romanian î, Turkish i with no dot, Polish y (and a similar sound in Russian) ... can these arise through conditioned sound change? Probably yes. Same condition? Perhaps as probable (not true of î before nasal and y wordfinally) Sometimes even in same words shared between them? Why not, though I know of no example.
So how do we know that Indo-European sound correspondences are Polynesian rather than Balkanic?
If Swedish has pojke and pjexa from Finnish, and if Finnish has Joulu and Pukku from Swedish, can we totally exclude situations in which the sound correspondences are not similar whichever way the loan goes?
In this case it is not so, or we would have **bojke and **bjexa but ...
Especially if a superstrate was a written language, like Nesili, which can have had different pronunciations.
Abstract ending syllable -tion(em) has systematic sound law like correspondences in diverse West European languages. And Nesili writing systems was probably syllabic. Right?
a By 24 approx, Grimm's law ...
When did it happen? One could also ask: why and to what sequence of speakers did it happen?
Were Fenno-Ugrians (or other language of soundtype close to Finnish) adopting a language close to Q-Celtic and Latin (and to P-Celtic as for "peduar"/"fidwor") but turning stops from b, p to p, pp, etc? Even Verner might have some such reason, confer "fitta"/"vittu" (sorry for example, if you know what it means, but it shows Finnish lacks f and replaces it with v in loans, and in this case even word initially).
Had Grimm happened lots earlier in Anatolia and are Germanic langs de-satemised Phrygian (or was it Lydian)?
Both Finnish and Hittite (I recall) share with Germanic the trait of a simple past which has no aspectual morphology attached. Slavonic also has such pasts, roughly analysable as "active aorist participles" and with aspect tied to lexical choice between verb pairs. While Greek has the Imperfect Aorist contrast, Latin the Imperfect Perfect contrast and probably Sanskrit something similar, as well as Celtic.
We have seen no pre-Germanic stage of Germanic, we do not know.
[Unless indeed "Brygoi" were very early Germanic speakers]
Combining Grimm/Werner into one scenario:
Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Coniectura linguistica, pro casu unitatis vetustissimae indo-europaeae linguae.
Sed ponitur tunc quaestio de γ quod est laryngalis tertius theoriae laryngalium.
H3 recunstructed as North German intervocalic G witn labialisation - why in that last extra scenario it did not turn same way as PIE (my reconstruction) γw.
VII 34:55 "All living languages change"
You mean, all living spoken languages change. The written language can stay the same, leading at best to just a new correspondence set between one to one grapheme/phoneme pairs, at worst to a real diglossia.
But if the written language does change it can either be towards or against speech change.
Or it can be suddenly exchanged; most famously perhaps when hyll was respelled hull, geard yard etc. after French spelling system, or earlier when feid replaces fidem after the correspondence in the Alcuinic pronunciation of fidem.
Swedish spelling reform 1906 was useless - and so was Hitler abolishing of Deutsche Schrift and of Schwabach print.
Old English and Middle English
The Basileus when fighting about Sicily in 1033 might also have taken a second thought about hiring Normans, if he had attended to Wyrtgeorn's/Vortigern's bad strategy ...
Voice of Father Ure - Alexander Arguelles?
gedaeghwamlican - sele - costnunge - ac might have been impossible without context or translation.
I have background in Sweden and Austria so some words (hlaf=Laib, swa swa=såsom, (a)lys=lös=erlöse, gehalgod=helgadt=geheiligt) are more obvious to me than to monoglot English speakers.
9:57 "and very reasonably got rid of it" ... ha, I dispute that!
[Never got around to stating why it was not very reasonable, but they did get rid of it.]
Loss of N/A distinction : Swedish, Danish yes. German/Icelandic no.
XI a 20:01
- Swedish has preserved final vowels ("inversing roles" of -a/-e as compared to OE, but really a different development from same Germanic vowels, as they suppose - Icelandic still even has -u), Danish has -e, like Middle English - probably from around time when this also happened in Middle High German and Middle English.
Dialects of Norrland as to Swedish and of Bavaria/Austria as to High German have gone to the vowel dropping stage, like Modern English.
Loss of -n.
Min > mi paralleled in one [at least] Swedish dialect (Småland).
Infinitive -n - lost in Danish and Swedish (rida), preserved in High German (reiten, Swiss and Middle High: rîten).
Two conclusions about comparing history and prehistory as to language studies:
a) in history we see parallel changes - all Westic languages lost vowel distinctions in final syllables, so by comparing them we would be reconstructing infinitives in -en rather than in -an.
If all PIE languages really descend from a common one, its reconstruction is given is a minimal distance from present stages - not necessarily the real one.
The one reconstructed right now is pretty ugly. "pH2teH1r" or "pχtehr" for pater/father is a bit Klingon.
b) but when we come to prehistory, we find disputable theories, when we come to history, we come to pretty firm facts.