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English Language : Linguistics : Syntax :

Change in grammar and pronunciation

المؤلف:  P. John McWhorter

المصدر:  The Story of Human Language

الجزء والصفحة:  33-7

2024-01-10

618

Change in grammar and pronunciation

A. Even as late as Jane Austen’s novels in the early 1800s, there are usages that we would consider “mistakes” that were quite proper in Austen’s time, such as:

So, you are come at last

...and much was ate

It would quite shock you…would not it?

She was small of her age

 

B. William Cobbett wrote a Grammar of the English Language in a Series of Letters to his 14-year-old son. Cobbett’s conception of proper English to pass on to his son included such usages as I bended, I sunk, loaden, shotten, and spitten!

 

C. As late as the late 1800s, it was typical in English to say A house is currently building on Mott Street, rather than A house is currently being built, which was processed as somewhat vulgar.

 

D. Long after the Great Vowel Shift that we saw , pronunciation of English words continued to drift, creating pronunciations different from ours in more ways than just the English accent we tend to imagine English spoken in before, roughly, the Andrew Jackson presidency. In John Walker’s Pronouncing Dictionary of English in 1774, Walker recommends that dismay be pronounced “diz-may” and dismiss “diz-miss” and that cement be pronounced “SEE-ment” and balcony “bal-COH-nee.”