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Title: Re: 16.970: Historical Ling: Punctuated Equilibrium Model
Submitter: Ahmad Reza Lotfi
Description: Dear linguists,

Marinus van der Sluijs wrote:

 Dixon's discussion offers much food for thought, but I believe his  model is fundamentally flawed. In terms of Dixon's model, the  global community is currently in a period of punctuation, as rapid  changes in communication take place and the English language  spreads its influence abroad. Dixon also claims that in times of  punctuation, languages split into family trees. This is at odds with  the observation that languages are seen to converge now, rather  than to diverge

Not necessarily! As languages coverge, they go through INTERNAL drastic changes in order to pay for the EXTERNAL linguistic conflicts inevitably occurring between two converging languages (see Jespersen's account of changes introduced in English as it came in contact with French in the 11th century under William the Conqueror: such changes, according to Jesperson, are not what English has BORROWED from French, but the simplifications it had to make in order to avoid the conflict beween these two systems). Split, however, is inevitable as such internal changes are not uniform within either of these speech communities. The logic here is dialectics: assimilation (between languages in order to satisfy certain needs whatever they are: communication, prestige, etc) and split (within them in order to afford accommodation) go hand in hand. Anyway, each language loses its original long-established equilibrium in a short period of time, but may be finally back to a new state of equilibrium over time.

 in many parts of the world where English is spoken in a bilingual  context, local languages assimilate themselves to English,  sometimes modifying the English language itself to the effect that  creoles or pidgins are produced.

You see! The production of such creoles/pidgins is the very split
we were looking for in this phase of punctuation.

Ahmad R. Lotfi
English Dept. Azad University (IRAN)


Jespersen, Otto. (1993). Progress in Language with Special Reference to English. John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Ahmad R. Lotfi, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of linguistics,
English Dept. Graduate School
Azad University at Khorasgan (IRAN)
Date Posted: 07-Apr-2005
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
LL Issue: 16.1087
Posted: 07-Apr-2005

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