Abstract and Keywords
A wave of successive innovations such as writing, the printing press, and modern mass media have extended the range of human communication beyond the “technologies” associated with face-to-face interaction. This article examines the impact of communication technologies on the history of English. Most diachronic work on English is based on the assumption that linguistic innovations, particularly in the the areas of phonology and grammar, typically start in spontaneous speech before spreading into writing, with a time lag. This implies that for most of the recorded history of English, the primary data for the study of change are lost and the best possible approximation needs to be re-constructed from available written sources. This article explores whether this assumption holds true to a comparable extent for all periods in the history of English or whether it is subject to diachronic change itself.
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