EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE
By Karl Arnold Belser
7 February 2015
English is a great language because
it has no dictator telling people what they can and cannot say.
For example, researchers have found that longer words occur less frequently than do shorter words. Three letter words are the most probable. See the article about word length distributions called The Mystery of Zipf. This frequency of occurrence characteristic is typical of many languages. i note that human beings try to shorten word sequences as much as possible by either choosing new words or by using Three Letter Acronyms (TLA). This suggests to me that the human being is constantly trying to simplify what he does such that the information content is not lost.
My suspicion is that the human being is an optimization machine.
Consider the death of the adverb. This usually means dropping the "ly" from the adverb. This change in usage might be considered another example of making words shorter without loosing meaning. However sometimes the adverb is changed so as to jar a person into paying attention. Consider the advertisements shown in this article titled Is the Adverb Dying?
Another change in usage that I have recently observed is the loss of the irregular past participle. Some samples are:
I have ate.
I have became.
I have broke.
I have got
I have beat.
I have forgot
I have hid
I have sang.
I have went.
One might think that it's just ignorant people that make these mistakes. But are they mistakes? In many cases the change is that of making the past participle the same as the simple past. I don't think there is any loss of meaning due to this change. However, the change makes the English language simpler. So is this another human attempt to optimize the English language?
This topic is relevant to the topic of this blog, The Uncertain Future, because one might expect the megatrends in society to be attempts to optimized something.
Last updated February 7, 2015
KARL BELSER HOME PAGE