Grammatical Change

In languages change, not only sounds change occurs but also grammatical change. Grammar is traditionally divided to morphology (i.e. morphemes) and syntax (i.e. sentences).  In this essay, I would like to explore typology and genetically related of languages and the factors in grammatical change.

Every language in the world has grammatical typology. Typology classification of languages is one that looks for certain features of a language, and groups that language with another language that shares the same features while genetically means that two or more languages come from the same protolanguage. For example, English and Indonesian are typically related while Malaysian and Indonesian are genetically related. There is also some possibilities in typically and genetically related, for example, one language may genetically related but not typically, and vice versa.

Three factors that involved in grammatical change are reanalysis, analogy and diffusion. Reanalysis refers to the process in which a form is treated differently in grammar from the original one. Reanalysis occurs because there is ambiguous meaning in interpreting context. For example, the word ‘hamburger’ actually the original word comes from the word “Hamburg” (name of city) and “-er” but some linguists has interpreted it that “hamburger” comes from the word “ham” and “burger”.

The second factor is analogy that refers to frequency of the word, from singular to plural and it is also about regularity in the system. For example, the word “man”à “men”, “child”à “children”, etc. The last factor is diffusion; diffusion refers to copying or borrowing. In languages, not only words are copied but also the grammars even the morphemes. For example, English copied Greek’s word, the word “phenomenon” (singular) become “phenomena” (plural).

In conclusion, still that language is changes overtime. Language has typology and genetic relation. Grammatical change is part of language too.  Grammatical change occurs because of some factors.


Crowley, Terry. 1997. An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. Oxford University Press: Australia.


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