Historical Development of Word Meaning – Semantic Change

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aloon, which in time was shortened to pants and came to mean trousers in general. British speakers of English have modified the meaning again to the sense of underpants, resulting in the confusing situation described in Norman Moss quote above.like discarded laundry along the divide separating British and American English are quite a few words for clothing, as the following table shows.Meaning: English dialect jump: loose jacket: pinafore: a light pullover: knickerbockers: breeches banded below knee: boys baggy trousers banded below knee: bloomers, old-fashioned female underpants: pantaloon, from Old French pantalon: mens wide breeches extending from waist to ankle: trousers: underpants: suspend: (unchanged) straps to support trousers: (unchanged): garter: tight, adj.: (unchanged) snug, stretchable apparel worn from neck to toe; typically worn by dancers or acrobats: (unchanged): pantyhose: Old French veste It. Lat. vestis: clothing: waistcoat: undershirts poem gave many good examples of amelioration, including priest from old man. A complementary term, pastor, likewise underwent amelioration, originally meaning shepherd (a sense surviving in the word pastoral), but coming to mean its current sense of minister by the extensive Christian references to the Lord is my shepherd as a call to ministry.following table shows other examples, including pluck in the sense of He has a lot of pluck.Old Meaningabuse(courage) entrails shepherd(spirit) act of tugging womanJames II called the just completed St. Pauls Cathedral amusing, awful and artificial. Call the just completed rock and roll museum in Cleveland amusing, awful and artificial, and you may be accurate but you will mean something quite different from King James. When he lived, those words meant that the cathedral was pleasing, awe-inspiring and artful respectively. The meaning of each word has grown more negative with time. People seem much more likely to drag words down than to lift them up, to build museums instead of cathedrals, as the following examples may demonstrate.Old Meaningstrongknowingdistinguished, standing out from the herda boyfamousflexiblepopularreversala word will shift so far from its original meaning that its meaning will nearly reverse. Fascinatingly enough, the word manufacture originally meant to make by hand.Old Meaningan originalto sort outto make by handcontronym is like a word that has undergone semantic reversal, only the tension has not eased: the word still preserves its original meaning, along with a contradictory - if not exactly counterposed - meaning.Meaningshappening every other month, happening twice monthlyhappening every other week, happening twice weeklyto overwhelm with force, especially rape*, to overwhelm with emotion, enraptureauthoritative measure of approval*, coercive measure of disapproval of nation against nationBrit. to put on the table for discussion, Amer. to set aside a motion rather than discuss it, biannual means only twice each year, with no recorded sense of every other year in Websters II New Riverside University Dictionary.word cleave (meaning to split or separate or to adhere or cling) is actually two different words, both from the Old English (cle-ofan and cleofian respectively) but by changes in pronunciation, these words have evolved the same current form.nadir of semantics is meaninglessness. The final semantic change. The death of meaning. The defeat of sigor.word sigor is Old English for victory. It is now meaningless to almost all English speakers, except for those familiar with Old English or with German (where its cognate survives in Seig).now know what sigor means. Is this a change in its meaning or a change in the very state of the word? Is death part of life?change across languages

for a moment that sigor had survived. It might have been changed to siyor, and its meaning could have generalized to success. It would then stand in contrast to the German Seig.languages, or dialects of a language, often have the same basic word with different meanings. These word pairs then become known as false friends to speakers trying to learn the other language. For instance, German Lust means pleasure, which is in fact the original meaning of the English word, which comes from the same common ancestor as Lust. In English, lust underwent specialization and pejoration, as speakers associated it with only one type of pleasure. The British and American English clothing terms also show how related languages can send words off in different directions over time.you develop your model languages, you should have words in related languages undergo different semantic changes. Situations where a words meaning changes in two related languages are relatively rare, the example of the Irish and Gaelic words for sun evolving into eye notwithstanding.languages borrow words, they frequently change the meanings of those borrowings, typically making generic words more specific, in the same way that one languages place names often grew out of another languages generic words for concepts such as hill, river and town. Take the history of the Low German word spittal, derived from a generic Romance word for hospital but then applied to a hospital for lepers.change through timemeaning changehistory of meaning changemeaning changeare slowly changing in meaning even now, though the changes happen at the speed of continental drift rather than with the sudden jolt of earthquakes. To conclude this issue, and to summarize the types of meaning change discussed here, I have extrapolated how some words might change meanings in the next 25 years.: entrepreneur, small-business owner or worker (because of its favorable connotations, this word was widely adopted as a label, even by those who were not risk takers).: sun-cell, electric car (so called because of the prominent solar cell on the roof of the vehicle).Extension: surfaced, checked all Internet messages, including e-mail, voice mail and video mail (originally popularized in the phrase I just surfaced from checking my flood of e-mail; given added cachet under the influence of surf, which see).: Internet, Internet, narrowcast television, narrowcast radio, virtual reality, videoconferencing (because it all was added onto the Net).: surf, navigate the Internet (traditional water surfing becomes called sea-boarding).Specialization: candidate, political candidate (the word contestant began to be used instead of candidate for non-political contexts).: fax, point-to-point e-mail (e-mail gradually superseded fax). post-modern, modern (by calling everything modern post - modern, this change was inevitable).: temp, specialist.: liberal, idiot (this term was used as an insult as early as 1988 and was gradually abandoned as a label by the Democrats it originally described). job, drudgery.Reversal: modern, obsolete (thanks to the change in meaning of post-modern). putrid, cool (slang).: communism, communism, capitalism (courtesy of the Hong Kong communists).: perestroika (this word was used only by historians interested in how the Russian economy followed that of Sicily).you want to create a slang or jargon, besides coining new words you should change the meanings of current words, much as these examples did. Just be aware that it is easier for an outsider to pick up new words than old words whose meaning has changed, since the outsider will bring all his assumptions from past experience to bear, so that when he hears a teenager call something putrid, he will assume that it is putrid.history of meaning changesay 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