Understanding Language Change: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Understanding Language Change

1st Edition

By Kate Burridge, Alexander Bergs


298 pages

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Paperback: 9780415713399
pub: 2016-11-04
Hardback: 9780415713382
pub: 2016-11-14
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315463018
pub: 2016-11-03
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The Understanding Language series provides approachable, yet authoritative, introductions to all the major topics in linguistics. Ideal for students with little or no prior knowledge of linguistics, each book carefully explains the basics, emphasising understanding of the essential notions rather than arguing for a particular theoretical position.

Understanding Language Change offers a complete introduction to historical linguistics and language change. The book takes a step-by-step approach, first by introducing concepts through English examples and building on this with illustrations from other languages.

Key features of this introductory text include:

  • up to date and recent case studies at the end of each chapter
  • chapter summaries and exercises that feature a wide range of languages
  • coverage of application of historical linguistics in each chapter
  • glossary of terms

This book is essential reading for any students studying Historical Linguistics for the first time.


"An important addition to this excellent series, covering fundamentals in the ‘what’ of language change such as sound change, changes in the lexicon and syntactic change, as well as the ‘why’ including contact linguistics and the influence of language policy, and the ‘how' including diffusion and spread at multiple social levels. Each chapter comes with a rich set of data-driven problem solving exercises as well as a searching research question."

Andrew Hippisley, University of Kentucky, USA

"Drawing upon their own research, and concentrating upon English phenomena without ever losing sight of issues in other language communities, Kate Burridge and Alexander Bergs have packed a wealth of insights into a volume which is sure to make historical linguistics, in its broadest sense, both relevant and attractive to students, other linguists and curious laypeople alike. With its discussions and rich array of activities, this is a book which can be recommended for any undergraduate or MA programme in English Language or Linguistics."

Anthony Grant, Edge Hill University, UK

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Setting the Scene

Chapter Two: Changes to the Lexicon

Chapter Three: Changes to the Semantics

Chapter Four: Changes in Sound Structure

Chapter Five: Change in Word Structure

Chapter Six: Change in Sentence Structure

Chapter Seven: The Spread of Change

Chapter Eight: Languages in Contact

Chapter Nine: Relatedness between Languages

Chapter Ten: An end on't

About the Authors

Kate Burridge is Professor and Chair of Linguistics at Monash University, Australia.

Alexander Bergs is Professor and Chair of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Osnabrück, Germany.

About the Series

Understanding Language

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Historical & Comparative