Questions about how English has changed.

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8
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3answers
6k views

If the English language is always evolving, why do we need to learn and follow grammatical rules?

Since language evolves over time — the best example I can think of is slang where it mostly doesn't follow grammar rules — why is there a need to preserve grammar or stress that proper ...
27
votes
8answers
4k views

Why have the subjunctive and indicative converged in Modern English?

It is to me a curious fact that the subjunctive mood of verbs in English has so nearly disappeared in modern times. In fact, even the correct form and usage of the subjunctive in Modern English barely ...
31
votes
5answers
3k views

Is Valley Girl speak “like”, entering the language?

So like, I had this teacher? And he's like, "You're late?" And I'm like, "There's like other people late too?" I've always cringed at the word "like" strewn about in a spoken sentence. Well now ...
3
votes
3answers
948 views

Is there an 'official' way to suggest a new word become part of the English language? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Regulatory bodies and authoritative dictionaries for English Creating a new word What are the criteria to adopt new words into English? I've always been told, at ...
15
votes
2answers
703 views

What’s going on with “drink > drench”? Is it like “passage > passenger”?

Edit: I am looking for a particular linguistic term for this process (which here uses terminal palatalization to indicate such) of turning passive verbs like drink into active verbs like drench. I ...
17
votes
4answers
796 views

When does a mistake become standard usage?

We all know that word meanings and usage change over time (though not all of us are happy about it). How long does a word have to be used in a particular way for that usage to be "okay"? At what ...
29
votes
5answers
2k views

Is it possible for a new irregular verb to appear in English language?

Consider these verbs in past tense: faxed, emailed, googled they are all regular verbs made out of new nouns. Are there any new irregular verbs that I'm not aware of?
18
votes
3answers
9k views

Gay (homosexual) and gay (happy)

When did the main meaning of the word 'gay' shift from happy to homosexual? How did the meaning evolve, if there is a relation between the two?
3
votes
5answers
5k views

When did the use of acronyms begin? [closed]

What are some of the earliest acronyms and did they know it was an acronym at the time?
13
votes
6answers
480 views

How common is the confusion between “affect” and “effect”?

I stumbled onto a US Congress representative’s website with what I think is a blatant and very visible mistake: Namely, the sentence in yellow, “How does the population change effect our district”. ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

What word describes our habit to use extremes in language, and what are its implications?

I have heard that in America, and likely elsewhere as well, we are beginning to be more gratuitous with our use of extreme words when not entirely accurate, such as the words "awesome", "always", ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Why has Southern US English all but abandoned adverb forms?

In Southern US English, adverb forms are almost always replaced by their adjective forms. For example: The journey was awful long. He's running real fast. He ran to the store quick. He ...
5
votes
1answer
211 views

Is there a technical term for the degeneration or evolution of words?

Based on this question, I was curious if there is an actual term that describes how words' meanings change or become deprecated over time.
3
votes
2answers
485 views

Is “because-noun” a new preposition?

There are a handful of articles suggesting that a new preposition has appeared in the form of "because-noun": The Atlantic Stan Carey Grammar Girl Isn't "Because (of)... whatever" a causitive? ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the historic process for converting vulgar words into simply rude words?

I have noticed a pattern involving vulgarities where the previous generation's evil words become accepted as merely off-color or rude in the following generation. Is this merely each generation's ...
12
votes
7answers
3k views

When and how did “fail” become a noun?

Does anyone know when and how fail became a noun? I'd love to see one of those charts that shows the date of origin and subsequent growth of this usage.
3
votes
1answer
99 views

Did English “borrow” or “inherit” from Proto-Germanic (PGmc)? [closed]

I wanted to see a cage match on this question, which started in the comments to this answer. We were left with these opposing assertions: PGmc was never homogeneous. Most English expressions ...
1
vote
2answers
799 views

Is English the only language that distinguishes thumbs from other fingers? [closed]

A Russian colleague of mine recently told me that English is the only language that actively distinguishes between fingers and thumbs by having a completely separate word. Her phrasing of it was ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

What is this an example of: “a napron” becomes “an apron”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “A whole nother” way of looking at things I recently learned that the word apron was once apparently napron, but the current form has resulted from ...
6
votes
3answers
955 views

Recent grammar additions

A lot of questions have been dedicated to how evolution of English got many constructs of the old either fall out of use, merge, or evolve into different forms but still with 1:1 relation to original. ...
4
votes
2answers
182 views

What is the difference between these two “scip”s?

In a question about ships, I added an answer with the etymologies that underpin both ship and -ship. "Ship" stems from scip: "O.E. scip "ship, boat," from P.Gmc. *skipan (cf. O.N., O.S., Goth. skip ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Is the correct usage of “Diagnose (verb)” losing its ground?

In spite of many references on the correct usage of ”Diagnose”, usage of passive construction followed by a with-phrase – e.g. “The patient was diagnosed with cancer” — and usage of patient as object ...
1
vote
3answers
557 views

Criteria used to determine if a “Chinese inch” is an “inch”?

This is a follow-on question to "Term for construct in which adjective completely changes the meaning of its following noun?" Is a "Chinese inch" an "inch" or something entirely different in which ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Irregular verbs in English

The English language has a huge number of irregular verbs(~470). This is significantly more than other languages e.g. French (~130), German (~200) Irregular verbs make the English language ...