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The Comparative Method Reviewed: Regularity and Irregularity in Language Change
Historical reconstruction of languages relies on the comparative method, which itself depends on the notion of the regularity of change. The regularity of sound change is the famous Neogrammarian Hypothesis: "sound change takes place according to laws that admit no exception." The comparative method, however, is not restricted to the consideration of sound change, and ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 1st 1997 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published May 16th 1996)
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While historical-comparative linguistics had traditionally been driven by the Neogrammarian ideal that sound change is regular and exceptionless, and one just has to formulate the right rules, advances in the 20th century slightly altered that picture. The sociolinguistics work of Labov, for instance, proved that sound changes could spread gradually through the lexicon, and this process might be interrupted before completion. Dialect-mixing too is better understood today. With that in mind, ...more