VARIABILITY, LANGUAGE CHANGE, AND THE HISTORY OF ENGLISH

James Milroy
2005 International Journal of English Studies (IJES)  
In historical language scholarship, it has been usual to assume that The transmission of language from generation to generation is itself a linguistic, rather than a social, process, and that the focus should be on uniform language states. Here it is argued that transmission is necessarily social and that the history of a language is necessarily a history of variation. Firts, it is shown that the history of British Received Pronunciation is not one of direct descent from a single uniform
more » ... ngle uniform ancestral variety. It is then demonstrated that pre-vocalic [h] and [hw] in English have a long history as variables and that loss of [h] in these combinations is not a recent event. Finally, it is suggested that closely similar variants of certain variables, such as [w] for (wh), have most probably recurred independently at various points in history and that we therefore need to review the methods used for dating sound changes.
doi:10.6018/ijes.5.1.47831 doaj:825fce1420ce411a864a0e9416d47ca8 fatcat:dxe7dpcapfgqja6igkowbfke4i