The Algebraic Backbone of Meaning Change
This chapter surveys the driving factors of change that were encountered in the case studies. It is argued that language change does not arise as a result of experimentation and imitation of use of poorly specified linguistic items. Speakers are able to hypothesize specific new uses of old words if confronted with suitable utterance contexts. Specifically, it was shown that utterances that carry a pragmatic overload — too much unwarranted presuppositions — can initiate change. The principle ‘avoid pragmatic overload’, parallel to Lightfoot’s ‘avoid structural complexity’ principle, hitherto unacknowledged in the literature on semantic change, is one of the main theories confirmed by this investigation.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.