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Semantic Bleaching

(1,236 words)

Author(s): Gianto, Agustinus
The term ‘semantic bleaching’ refers to a type of semantic change whereby the conventional lexical meaning of a word is blurred when the word is used to signal a grammatical function. This change is also called ‘fading’, ‘depletion’, ‘attrition’, ‘weakening’, and ‘desemanticization’. The English verb will originally meant ‘to want’, but at some point it came to be used more as an auxiliary to indicate possibility, and further, to mark the future, hence signaling modality and then tense. This change is part of grammaticalization, i.e, “the …

Mechanisms of Change

(2,015 words)

Author(s): Gianto, Agustinus
Any living language is constantly in a state of change; some of its elements fall into disuse, while others emerge to keep the linguistic system going. The changes follow certain mechanisms, i.e., the fundamental principles that motivate, govern, and account for the modifications. The most important mechanisms at work are sound change, reanalysis, analogy, and borrowing. Sound change accounts for the modifications of a sound in adapting itself to surrounding sounds (e.g., assimilation, umlaut, vowel harmony) or in following the general tendency to sim…