This book "asserts that the origin and spread of languages must be examined primarily through the time-tested techniques of linguistic analysis, rather than those of evolutionary biology" and "defends traditional practices in historical linguistics while remaining open to new techniques, including computational methods" and "will appeal to readers interested in world history and world geography."
This book presents an investigation of a number of areas of interest in the study of language change, dealing in particular with questions of how patterns of pronunciation vary across both time and space. Most of the illustrative material is drawn from non-standard dialects of English, especially the varieties spoken in Ireland (Hiberno-English). The theoretical issues discussed include the following: what role do articulatory and linguistic constraints play in determining the direction of sound change? How do social and political pressures influence the resolution of competition between conflicting local non-standard linguistic norms? Besides addressing such general issues, the book also offers insights into several specific areas in the history of English, both in its standard and vernacular forms. It will thus be of interest to English-language specialists as well as to historical linguists, sociolinguists and phonologists.