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diachrony

 

After 200 years of studies, historical linguistics can now provide us with a theory of phonological changes, still unfinished and unperfected, but nevertheless useful. In contrast, semantic aspects of language change has for a long time been limited to descriptive works, many classifications having been proposed without any strong and powerful theory.

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The way the worlds languages rely on different inventories of sounds to build the words of their lexicon contribute in a significant way to their diversity. Far from being randomly assembled, these inventories of various sizes are as many possible answers to the physiological, perceptive and cognitive human features; in these systems, sounds occur in a structured way, especially in terms of meaningful oppositions with respect to the lexicon. Phonology and phonetics both aim at unravelling the main principles of the structure and evolution of sound systems, and therefore at understanding their typological diversity in terms of underlying mechanisms

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