Mechanisms of Linguistic Change -IELTS Reading Sample with Explanation (2022)

Section 2

Solution and Explanation
Questions 1 - 4
Complete the summary below.
Choose no more than the three words from the given passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 1 - 4 on your answer sheet.

  1. The pronunciation of living language under – go changes throughout thousands of years. Large scale regular Changes are usually called

Answer: Sound Laws

Supporting Sentence: When we study the pronunciation of a language over any period of a few generations or more, we find there are always large-scale regularities in the changes: for example, over a certain period of time, just about all the long [a:] vowels in a language may change into long [e:] vowels, or all the [b] consonants in a certain position (for example at the end of a word) may change into [p] consonants.

Keyword: Pronunciation, regularities, changes, generations

Keyword Location: Section B, 1st line

Explanation: The pronunciation of any language might change over a period of time but few sound laws remain unchanged / regular. For instance, when we talk about all the long [a:] vowels in a language may change into long [e:] vowels, or all the [b] consonants in a certain position (for example at the end of a word) may change into [p] consonants.

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  1. There are three reasons for these changes. Firstly, the influence of one language on another; when one person imitates another pronunciation (the most prestige’s), the imitation always partly involving factor of


Supporting Sentence: It is also possible that fashion plays a part in the process of change. It certainly plays a part in the spread of change: one person imitates another, and people with the most prestige are most likely to be imitated, so that a change that takes place in one social group may be imitated (more or less accurately) by speakers in another group.

Keyword: process, spread, change, group, imitate

Keyword Location: Section C, 1st line

Explanation: Fashion plays an important role in changing the pronunciation of any language and it might be the result of an interaction of multiple social groups. The group belonging from higher strata of any society is competent enough to influence the members of another group.

  1. Secondly, the imitation of children from adults1 language sometimes are


Supporting Sentence: they copy their parents’ speech, but never reproduce it exactly. This is true, but it is also true that such deviations from adult speech are usually corrected in later childhood. Perhaps it is more significant that even adults show a certain amount of random variation in their pronunciation of a given phoneme, even if the phonetic context is kept unchanged.

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Keyword: imitate, deviations, pronunciation, adults

Keyword Location: Section D, 1st line

Explanation: Another reason for the change in the pronunciation of a language is varying imitations of the same by the children from their parents or any adults. But there are even instances when adults imitate them incorrectly. Although, there needs to be a full – fledged research which could clarify that there is a systematic trend in the failure of the imitation.

  1. and may also contribute to this change if there are insignificant deviations though, later they may be corrected. Finally, for those random variations in pronunciation, the deeper evidence lies in the

Answer: Principle of ease

Supporting Sentence: One such force which is often invoked is the principle of ease, or minimization of effort. The change from fussy to fuzzy would be an example of assimilation, which is a very common kind of change.

Keyword: force, assimilation, change

Keyword Location: Section E, 1st line

Explanation: One force that leads to the changing of the sound of any language could be the assimilation which works on the principle of ease or the minimization of efforts. Thus, this factor also contributes to the changing pronunciation of a language.

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Questions 5 – 11

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the Reading Passage?
In boxes 5 – 11 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE – if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE – if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN – if there is no information on this

  1. It is impossible for modern people to find pronunciation of words in an earlier age

Answer: False

Supporting Sentence: We have various sources of evidence for the pronunciations of earlier times, such as the spellings, the treatment of words borrowed from other languages or borrowed by them, the descriptions of contemporary grammarians and spelling-reformers, and the modern pronunciations in all the languages and dialects concerned From the middle of the sixteenth century, there are in England writers who attempt to describe the position of the speech – organs for the production of English phonemes, and who invent what are in effect systems of phonetic symbols.

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Keywords:evidence, earlier times, writers

Keyword Location: Section A, 1st line.

Explanation: Even the contemporary generation could find out the pronunciation of the language which were used in the earlier times. Multiple pieces of evidence are presented for the same by various writers such as the ones from England who described the position of the speech – organs for the production of English phonemes. The samples of the speech – organ and the words that have been used in the past are mentioned in various historical and the political texts of those time periods.

  1. The great change of language in Russian history is related to the rising status and fortune of middle classes.

Answer: False

Supporting Sentence: When a social group goes up or down in the world, its pronunciation of Russian, which had formerly been considered desirable, became on the contrary an undesirable kind of accent to have, so that people tried to disguise it.

Keywords:Russian, social group, accent.

Keyword Location: Section C, 4th line

Explanation: The rising status of the middle class has been a reason for a change in pronunciation and the accent of the English language while the change in the Russian pronunciation was a resultant of the changing position of the social groups due to which the Russian accent was later considered undesirable.

  1. All the children learn speeches from adults white They assume that certain language is difficult to imitate exactly.

Answer: Not given

  1. Pronunciation with causal inaccuracy will not exert a big influence on language changes.

Answer: True

Supporting Sentence: Perhaps it is more significant that even adults show a certain amount of random variation in their pronunciation of a given phoneme, even if the phonetic context is kept unchanged. This, however, cannot explain changes in pronunciation unless it can be shown that there is some systematic trend in the failures of imitation: if they are merely random deviations, they will cancel one another out and there will be no net change in the language.

Keywords:systematic trend, cancel, net change, pronunciation, random deviation

Keyword Location: Section D, 3rd line.

Explanation: The random deviations from the actual pronunciation of the language which is often practiced by the adults and the children do not mark a great change. This leads to no net change in the accent until and unless there is some systematic trend in the failure of imitation of the language sounds.

  1. The word 'scant' can be pronounced more easily than 'skamt'

Answer: True

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Supporting Sentence: the word scant was once skamt, but the /m/ has been changed to /n/ under the influence of the following /t/. Greater efficiency has hereby been achieved, because /n/ and /t/ are articulated in the same place (with the tip of the tongue against the teeth – ridge), whereas /m/ is articulated elsewhere (with the two lips). So, the place of articulation of the nasal consonant has been changed to conform with that of the following plosive.

Keywords: nasal consonant, articulated, efficiency.

Keyword Location: Section E, 4th line

Explanation: The replacement of m with n reflects the greater efficiency in terms of articulation of n and t at the same place (with the tip of the tongue against the teeth – ridge). Thus, scant has easier pronunciation as compared to that of skamt.

  1. The [g] in gnat not being pronounced will not be spelt out in the future.

Answer: Not Given

  1. The sound of ‘temporary’ cannot wholly present its spelling.

Answer: True

Supporting Sentence: Sometimes a whole syllable is dropped out when two successive syllables begin with the same consonant (haplology): a recent example is temporary, which in Britain is often pronounced as if it were temporary.

Keywords: consonant, syllable, dropped

Keyword Location: Section F, 5th line.

Explanation: Sometimes, while pronouncing, the whole syllable, as in ‘temporary’, is dropped out when two successive syllables begin with the same consonant. This leads to effortless pronunciation with equal articulation of the consonants, which ease the speaking for the speaker of a language.

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Questions 12 – 14

Look at the following sentences and the list of statements below. Match each statement with the correct sentence, A - D.

Write the correct letter, A – D, in boxes 12 – 14 on your answer sheet.

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  1. Since the speakers can pronounce it with less effort
  2. Assimilation of a sound under the influence of a neighbouring one
  3. It is a trend for changes in pronunciation in a large scale in a given period
  4. Because the speaker can pronounce [n] and [t] both in the same time
  1. As a consequence, ‘b’ will be pronounced as

Answer: C

Supporting Sentence: When we study the pronunciation of a language over any period of a few generations or more, we find there are always large - scale regularities in the changes: for example, over a certain period of time, just about all the long [a:] vowels in a language may change into long [e:] vowels, or all the [b] consonants in a certain position (for example at the end of a word) may change into [p] consonants.

Keywords:changes, regularities, b consonants, p consonants.

Keyword Location: Section B, 1st line.

Explanation: Sound laws remark the regularities within the changes in the pronunciation of a language over generations. For instance, the changes are all about the long, when the [b] consonants in a certain position (for example at the end of a word) may change into [p] consonants.

  1. The pronunciation of [mt] changed to [nt]

Answer: B

Supporting Sentence: Assimilation is the changing of a sound under the influence of a neighbouring one. For example, the word scant was once skamt. Thus, the replacement of m with n is mainly in terms of t, which ultimately enhances the efficiency of the pronunciation and reduces the efforts in speaking.

Keywords: assimilation, sound.

Keyword Location: Section E, 3rd line.

Explanation: The pronunciation of mt changed to nt as in, the pronunciation of skamt changed to scant, this enhances the efficiency of pronouncing the words which are articulated at the same place through assimilation.

  1. The omit of ‘f' in the sound of Christmas.

Answer: A

Supporting Sentence: Consonant – clusters are often simplified. At one time there was a [t] in words like castle and Christmas, and an initial [k] in words like knight and know

Keywords:simplified, cluster, consonants, initial.

Keyword Location: Section F, 4th line

Explanation:In order to ease the pronunciation of the word of any language, the cluster of the consonants are simplified. The same simplification of the consonants is reflected in the word Christmas when the sound of ‘f’ is omitted from the same. Other examples for the same include the word knight.

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What are the mechanisms of language change? ›

The Mechanisms of Language Change research cluster focuses on achieving excellence in three core areas of the study of language change: historical morphology and syntax, language contact and standardization & prescriptivism.

What are some examples of language change? ›

For many speakers of English, the short e vowel (as in bet) has, in some words, been replaced by a short i vowel (as in bit), For these speakers, pin and pen, him and hem are homophones (words pronounced the same).

How do linguists explain how and why language changes? ›

Linguists rely on systematic sound changes to establish the relationships between languages. The basic idea is that when a change occurs within a speech community, it gets diffused across the entire community of speakers of the language.

Why does language change explain the process? ›

Why does language change? Language changes for several reasons. First, it changes because the needs of its speakers change. New technologies, new products, and new experiences require new words to refer to them clearly and efficiently.

What is semantic change linguistics? ›

Semantic change (also semantic shift, semantic progression, semantic development, or semantic drift) is a form of language change regarding the evolution of word usage—usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage.

What is sound change in linguistics? ›

Sound change is the usual name given to a subfield dedicated to how speech sounds become different over time, and it has one of the longest traditions in the field of linguistics.

Can linguistic change be observed while it is actually occurring? ›

most linguists have maintained that change itself cannot be observed; all that we can possibly hope to observe are the consequences of change.

How do language changes spread? ›

Lexical diffusion: sound changes spread gradually through the words in which the change applies. When a sound change begins (for example, the quality of a vowel will change), not all vowels suddenly become different -- the change occurs first in one word, then gradually spreads to the same vowel in other words.

What are four factors which influence the ways languages change? ›

The factors that influence a speaker's or writer's choice of language vary, and they include the context that surrounds the speaker or writer, the age, gender, culture, etc. Very often, the choice of language is conscious, and the speaker can switch the language choice depending on such factors.

What are the changes in English language? ›

Languages change in all their aspects, in their pronunciation, word forms, syntax, and word meanings (semantic change). These changes are mostly very gradual in their operation, becoming noticeable only cumulatively over the course of several generations.

How do languages change and evolve? ›

Languages change when speakers come into contact with new populations (think colonialism and trade), and they change when social groups adopt their own distinctive norms.

What are the three cause of language change? ›

Traditional theories of historical linguistics identify three main types of change: systematic change in the pronunciation of phonemes, or sound change; borrowing, in which features of a language or dialect are altered as a result of influence from another language or dialect; and analogical change, in which the shape ...

Does language change affect communication? ›

Language is the fundamental factor leading and affecting communication. Language is communication and vice versa. It can also helps with everyday tasks such as, explaining issues and procedures exchanging ideas or learning ideas.

What are the internal and external reasons why language changes over time? ›

INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL MOTIVATION All kinds of language change can basically be assigned to one of two types: either the change is caused by a structural requirement of the language — this is internally motivated change — or it does not in which case one speaks of externally motivated change.

How is the English language changing? ›

Many of the changes that occur in language begin with teens and young adults: As young people interact with others their own age, their language grows to include words, phrases, and constructions that are different from those of the older generation.

What is the difference between language contact and language change? ›

One is where lexical borrowing takes place from language one into language two. The second is where structural interference from one language leads to changes in language two.
Reasons of contact.
Direct contactIndirect contact
(speakers intermingle)(no mixing of speakers)
Linguistic effect
4 more rows

What is language shift in sociolinguistics? ›

Language shift is the process whereby members of a community in which more than one language is spoken abandon their original vernacular language in favor of another.

What are pidgins and Creole? ›

1) Pidgin is a linguistic communication that comprised of components of two or more other languages and is used for communication among people. It can also be called business language. It is not a first language. Whereas, creole is a language that was at first a pidgin but has “transformed” and become a first language.

Language is always changing. We've seen that language changes across space and across social group. Language also varies across time.

Language is always changing.. Another unconditioned sound change that occurred between Middle. and Early Modern English (around Shakespeare's time) is known as the Great. Vowel Shift.. Eventually, the original /i:/ became /ai/ - so a "long. i" vowel in Modern English is now pronounced /ai/ as in a word like 'bite':. /bait/.. Processes of sound change.. Sound changes. work to change the actual phonetic form of the word in the different languages,. but we can still recognize them as originating from a common source because. of the regularities within each language.. In the Romance languages below, the word for 'mother' is a cognate in. all the six contemporary languages considered, however the word for 'father'. is a cognate only in four of the five: in Rumanian, the original word. inherited from Latin pater has been replaced by a completely. different word, tata.. This looks like another systematic, unconditioned sound change, this time. in only one language.. For each pair of languages, we determine the percentage. of words on this list that appear to be cognate.. One issue is whether the family trees produced for languages. with fairly high cognate percentages (say 60% and higher) are a reliable. indication of the detailed structure of "genetic" relationships. among languages.. The second controversy is what to make of relationships involving very. low cognate percentages, say below 10%.

This post was written by Mark Davies, HC Fellow, Linguistics Department Why do languages change? The answers that some linguists tended to give 100-150 years ago strike us as being quite absurd nowadays. For example, they sometimes looked to the physical environment as a motivation for language change, such as the fact that the Germanic …

Why do languages change?. For example, they sometimes looked to the physical environment as a motivation for language change, such as the fact that the Germanic peoples in the Alps in 2000-3000 BC huffed and puffed so much as they were going up and down the mountains that they turned the “stops” (p, t, k) from Proto-Indo-European (spoken about 3000-5000 BC) into “fricatives” (f, th, h; a change known as Grimms Law), as in [p]a[t]er > [f]a[th]er, [t]res > [th]ree, [c]ornu (copia); “horn of plenty”) > [h]orn, etc.. During the last 100 years or so, there have been two major camps when it comes to language change.. The first are “structuralists” and “typologists”, who see internal motivations for change in the language.. As noted, structuralists emphasize the role of competing factors in a language as a motivation for change.. As mentioned, the second major group of historical linguists focus on social motivations for change.. Since the 1960s, sociolinguists and historical linguists have found hundreds of other interesting examples of how group identification can affect the adoption (or non-adoption) of linguistic features, much the same way that groups of people adopt new styles in clothing or hairstyles.. The two schools of “structurally-motivated change” and “socially-motivated change” might seem to be at odds with each other.. The invisible hand of language change (structurally-motivated change) can create an environment for change, which is then helped along by a certain social group adopting that change, and using it as a social marker.. I’ve created some of the largest historical corpora of English, such as the Corpus of Historical American English (400 million words, 1810s-2000s) and the Corpus of Contemporary American English (520 million words, 1990-2015).. Both of these corpora (and many more; see can be used to look at language change 15 or 150 years ago.. But I’m also fascinated by what’s going on in the language right now – this week; this month – and how that affects (and is affected by) longer term changes in the language, which often take place over decades and even centuries.. It grows by about 5-6 million words each day (or about 150 million words each month, or 1.8 billion words each year).. Or they can look at syntactic change (e.g. the ever-increasing rise in the like construction, “ and he’s like the most awesome guy I’ve like ever gone out with, like for real” ), morphological change (new words with the “scandal” suffix gate, e.g. deflategate , or Russiagate ), or semantic change (new uses for existing words, e.g. trigger warning, green tech or astroturfing ).. And in turn, this allows us to amass large amounts of data that can help to answer basic questions about how and why languages change.

The issues we discuss have been debated with vigor and sometimes venom. Some of the people involved have had famous exchanges in the linguistics journals, in the popular press, and in public forums. To understand the sharp disagreements between advocates of the approaches it may be useful to have a sketch of the dramatis personae before us, even if it is undeniably an oversimplification.

Three Approaches to the Study. of Language. Why. try to support one’s theories of universal grammar, or of the. grammars of particular languages, by using questionably reliable. data?. –––, 2011, “What are words?. –––, 2011, “Words on words”, The. Journal of Philosophy , 108(9): 504–529.. ––– (ed.. 104 in Studies in. Generative Grammar, 113–138.. (ed.

This paper summarizes 2 articles discussing gender and language issues from a sociolinguistics perspective: Sex and Gender in Variationist Research and Gender and Language Use.

From the context of speakers’ sex, the article identifies various studies that address a particular phonological variation among women and men.. In the case of the US, the article identifies the variation of language forms based on social class structures.. However, culture plays an important role in making this differentiation.. Despite the fact that early scholarly researches on the subject generalized gender variations, current studies contextualize the manner in which speakers use language during gender negotiations and construction of identity.. This variation gives women and men different standard linguistics forms.. In variationist studies, the article presents research evidence of social stratification and gender variations in linguistics.. Indeed, the article associates such differences with the cultural contextualization of linguistic interactions of men and women, but not to cognitive deficiencies among women.. Other studies regard to gender and language as aspects that require qualitative research designs to understand their interrelationships in terms of influencing linguistic variations in speaking contexts.


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