Forthcoming: Language change for the worse

Dankmar W. Enke   Larry M. Hyman   Johanna Nichols   Guido Seiler   Thilo Weber  


Many theories hold that language change, at least on a local level, is driven by a need for improvement. The present volume explores to what extent this assumption holds true, and whether there is a particular type of language change that we dub language change for the worse, i.e., change with a worsening effect that cannot be explained away as a side-effect of improvement in some other area of the linguistic system. The chapters of the volume, written by leading junior and senior scholars, combine expertise in diachronic and historical linguistics, typology, and formal modelling. They focus on different aspects of grammar (phonology, morphosyntax, semantics) in a variety of language families (Germanic, Romance, Austronesian, Bantu, Jê-Kaingang, Wu Chinese, Greek, Albanian, Altaic, Indo-Aryan, and languages of the Caucasus). The volume contributes to ongoing theoretical debates and discussions between linguists with different theoretical orientations.


  • Language change for the worse
    Dankmar W. Enke, Larry M. Hyman, Johanna Nichols, Guido Seiler, Thilo Weber
  • High vowel fricativization in Northern Wu Chinese and its neighbors
    Matthew Faytak
  • Postoralized and devoiced nasals in Panãra (Jê)
    ND > NT
    Myriam Lapierre
  • Loss of number in the English 2nd person pronoun
    A change for the worse, but due to a change for the better?
    Christine Elsweiler, Judith Huber
  • Clitic doubling in Albanian dialects from the perspective of functional transparency
    Veton Matoshi
  • Who needs posterior infinitives
    Tabea Reiner
  • The particular-characterizing contrast in Marathi and its historical basis
    Ashwini Deo
  • The complexification of Tungusic interrogative systems
    Andreas Hölzl
  • For better and/or for worse
    Complexity and person hierarchies
    Johanna Nichols
  • Can language evolution lead to change for the worse?
    Gerhard Jäger
  • How to use evolutionary game theory to study evolutionary aspects of grammar
    Roland Mühlenbernd
  • Languages as public goods and language change as a tragedy of the commons
    Gerhard Schaden



October 2, 2020
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Cite as
Enke, Dankmar W., Hyman, Larry M., Nichols, Johanna, Seiler, Guido & Weber, Thilo (eds.). Forthcoming. Language change for the worse. (Studies in Diversity Linguistics). Berlin: Language Science Press.


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