children and language change

Sydney M Lamb smlamb at OWLNET.RICE.EDU
Mon Jan 22 15:47:39 UTC 1996

It seems that Lise Menn has answered her own objection to the idea that
children play an important role in language change.  She points out that
the past tense of go remains irregular after all this time precisely
because of its great frequency of occurrence, which is just what forces the
kids to learn it eventually.  But if we look at the past few hundred
years of English we see that over and over the less frequently occurring
verbs have had their past tenses regularized.  So also for the heretofore
irregular plurals of less frequently occurring nouns --- and they change
from irregular to regular after the culture change which reduces their
frequency of occurrence.

More information about the Funknet mailing list