rate of language change

Ralf-Stefan Georg Georg at home.ivm.de
Tue Jan 26 17:56:19 UTC 1999

>"Breathtaking speed"? Are you serious? There wasn't much to notice in
>the first place; that is why nobody noticed it except for a few people
>whose job is to split hairs.

It is the very nature of linguistic change, as well as of any other
invisible-hand-process that the microscopic steps it takes are rarely
noticed by the speakers. Yes, they are noticed by those whose job it is to
split hairs. Splitting-hairs is a scientist's job, after all, or am I
mistaken here ?

"Breathtaking speed" is of course a metaphor and should be held against the
object of interest, i.e. in our case language. For any geologist, the
glaciers in the Andes recede at a breathtaking speed. I fail to see what is
wrong with these metaphor (but, of course, as always  I'm also lying ;-).


Stefan Georg
Heerstrasse 7
D-53111 Bonn

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