Etymology, Language, Dialect
September 29, 2009 6:43am CST
It is interesting to know the evolution of words and their meaning. For example the word "Vulgar" meant common, multitude, crowd. Today we use it in an entirely different context. What do you think? How did so many dialects and languages evolve?
29 Sep 09
mainly because language is not static - it is always changing and developing. try and read something by e.g. chaucer and see how easy it is to understand although it is classed as english. this is why you get so many dialects, then they become separate languages. english for example has changed even in the last 5 years - and in different ways in different countries in spite of all the global communication going on.
1 Oct 09
that's because language is dynamic. look at say italian and spanish - they are very similar because they have a fairly recent common origin (latin), and so have changed less than say arabic and italian. different dialects turn into different languages when their speakers no longer understand each other.
2 Oct 09
Here is one more example. Dr is short for Doctor, Mr is short for Mister Mrs is short for? Mistress! Incidently Missus and Mistress initially were used interchangebly. Only later Mistress came to mean a women outside a marraige. But the short form Mrs stuck around. As for evolution of languages. Every word that has changed its meaning over time will have a history. For instance, a bromide meant a person who was considered mentallly unstable it now means something trite and banal.
2 Oct 09
Thanks for enlightening. Words get different meaning in different eras or cultures, but do thoughts shape as words or words give shape to thoughts. Considering that the meanings change, there is an underlying current which is changing the thought process. But have our thoughts changed? Why should a word lose its meaning and acquire a new one? Did a better word emerge to convey the same meaning? Or the new culture does not want to accept the existing meaning. Humor initially meant plant or animal juices. In fact the present of different juices in animals and their varying proposition was considered to define mood or predisposition. Today we hardly use the word 'humor' in its initial sense.