Historical Development of Word Meaning – Semantic Change

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survey and memorization chores is considerable-one reason that history texts are often quite long.is a fundamental tension in teaching and learning history between covering facts and developing historical habits of mind. Because history provides an immediate background to our own life and age, it is highly desirable to learn about forces that arose in the past and continue to affect the modern world. This type of knowledge requires some attention to comprehending the development of national institutions and trends. It also demands some historical understanding of key forces in the wider world. The ongoing tension between Christianity and Islam, for instance, requires some knowledge of patterns that took shape over 12 centuries ago. Indeed, the pressing need to learn about issues of importance throughout the world is the basic reason that world history has been gaining ground in American curriculums. Historical habits of mind are enriched when we learn to compare different patterns of historical development, which means some study of other national traditions and civilizations.key to developing historical habits of mind, however, is having repeated experience in historical inquiry. Such experience should involve a variety of materials and a diversity of analytical problems. Facts are essential in this process, for historical analysis depends on data, but it does not matter whether these facts come from local, national, or world history-although its most useful to study a range of settings. What matters is learning how to assess different magnitudes of historical change, different examples of conflicting interpretations, and multiple kinds of evidence. Developing the ability to repeat fundamental thinking habits through increasingly complex exercises is essential. Historical processes and institutions that are deemed especially important to specific curriculums can, of course, be used to teach historical inquiry. Appropriate balance is the obvious goal, with an insistence on factual knowledge not allowed to overshadow the need to develop historical habits of mind.to certain essential historical episodes and experience in historical inquiry are crucial to any program of historical study, but they require supplement. No program can be fully functional if it does not allow for whimsy and individual taste. Pursuing particular stories or types of problems, simply because they tickle the fancy, contributes to a rounded intellectual life. Similarly, no program in history is complete unless it provides some understanding of the ongoing role of historical inquiry in expanding our knowledge of the past and, with it, of human and social behavior. The past two decades have seen a genuine explosion of historical information and analysis, as additional facets of human behavior have been subjected to research and interpretation. And there is every sign that historians are continuing to expand our understanding of the past. Its clear that the discipline of history is a source of innovation and not merely a framework for repeated renderings of established data and familiar stories.study history? The answer is because we virtually must, to gain access to the laboratory of human experience. When we study it reasonably well, and so acquire some usable habits of mind, as well as some basic data about the forces that affect our own lives, we emerge with relevant skills and an enhanced capacity for informed citizenship, critical thinking, and simple awareness. The uses of history are varied. Studying history can help us develop some literally salable skills, but its study must not be pinned down to the narrowest utilitarianism. Some history-that confined to personal recollections about changes and continuities in the immediate environment-is essential to function beyond childhood. Some history depends on personal taste, where one finds beauty, the joy of discovery, or intellectual challenge. Between the inescapable minimum and the pleasure of deep commitment comes the history that, through cumulative skill in interpreting the unfolding human record, provides a real grasp of how the world works.say that Bilbos breath was taken away is no description at all. There are no words left to express his staggerment, since Men changed the language that they learned of elves in the days when all the world was wonderful. Bilbo had heard tell and sing of dragon-hoards before, but the splendour, the lust, the glory of such treasure had never yet come home to him..R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbitthe history of semantic change had to be summed up as one process, it would be that of specialization. The Anglo Saxons 1500 years ago made do with perhaps 30,000 words in their complete vocabulary, while Modern English has anywhere from 500,000 to a million words, depending on whether or not scientific vocabularies are included.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God. It could be argued that originally there was one word, from which all others have sprung. The origins of language will never be known, but the first language probably had a vocabulary of a few hundred words, providing a rich enough vocabulary for a primitive people who had few materials and fewer abstract concepts. Many of the words of the first languages had very broad senses of meaning.instance, the word inspire is from the Latin inspirare, which literally means to breathe into. Its archaic meaning is to breathe life into, with newer meanings like to be the cause of, to elicit, to move to action, to exalt and to guide by divine influence. Now if a minister were to speak of Adam as dust inspired, he might mean by that not just that the dust is having life breathed into it (the original etymological meaning), but also that the dust is being exalted and given form, that it is being moved to action, and that it is being divinely guided (these are the metaphorical or extended meanings). In other words, this minister might not mean just one of the definitions of inspired but all of them simultaneously.extended meanings are branches that have split off from the trunk, and our hypothetical minister has simply traced them back to the root.you seek to create a language from an earlier time, you should probably develop a small vocabulary, with it words having much more overlapping of meaning than the vocabularies of modern languages. Imagine a word spiratholmos - an ancient ancestor to Latin inspirare - meaning wind, breath, voice, spirit. A speaker who used the word spiratholmos would regard the wind in the trees as the breath of the earth, the voice of God, the spirit animating each of us.is different way of looking at words, and prompted Tolkien to write, There are no words left to express his staggerment, since Men changed the language that they learned of elves in the days when all the world was wonderful. What Tolkiens elves might have expressed in one word, resonant with meaning, Tolkiens diminutive man cannot express at all.change can be viewed dispassionately as a natural process, but it can also be invested with a spiritual significance, as Tolkien and Suffield have done. A model language is an art form and its crafting can even convey this theme of spiritual isolation. As Ronald Suffield wrote, no word is still the word, but, a loafward has become lord.are the goddy tawdry maudlin for they shall christgeewhiz bow down before him: bedead old men, priest and prester, babeling a pitterpatternoster: no word is still the word, but, a loafward has become lord.Suffield, The Tenth Beatitudesubtle poem by the English philologist Ronald Suffield is actually written at two levels. For Suffield intends that the reader hold in mind not just the current meanings of these words but the original meanings as well. For the meaning of a word changes over time. The example everyone knows is gay, which originally meant merry, but because some people are a little too merry came to mean wanton, and because some people are a little too wanton came to mean homosexual, which is the sense almost exclusively used now.model language that you develop will have words that are descended from words with quite different meanings. Some of the words used in Ronald Suffields poem, The Tenth Beatitude, will be used to demonstrate how words change through time.is the process by which a words meaning worsens or degenerates, coming to represent something less favorable than it originally did. Most of the words in Suffields poem have undergone pejoration.instance, the word silly begins Suffields poem and meant in Old English times blessed, which is why Suffield calls his poem a beatitude (Christs beatitudes begin with blessed are the…). How did a word meaning blessed come to mean silly? Well, since people who are blessed are often innocent and guileless, the word gradually came to mean innocent. And some of those who are innocent might be innocent because they havent the brains to be anything else. And some of those who are innocent might be innocent because they knowingly reject opportunities for temptation. In either case, since the more worldly-wise would take advantage of their opportunities, the innocents must therefore be foolish, which of course is the current primary meaning of the word silly.word goddy in the poem is a metaplasmus (artful misspelling) of gaudy. The word gaudy was derived from the Latin word gaudium, joy, which was applied to praying (as a type of rejoicing). Because the most common prayers in Middle English times were the prayers of the rosary, Middle English gaude came to be associated with the rosary and came to mean an ornamen