Language Change

It’s been quite obvious that I’ve had language change on my mind with reference to man vs. human and he vs. they for generics. I’ve written a couple posts now.

And I know that there are a variety of people out there who are convinced that the change is directly related to the feminist movement. My personal opinion on that one is 1) I doubt it and 2) so what? If the language has truly changed (and it has) then it’s too late to go back to man and he anyway. And I should that it’s too late to go back in a previous post on the subject where two late middle aged men quite clearly mistook a generic man for male-referring man — ironically, in the context of a book where that had at one point argued that English hasn’t changed (specifically, chapters 7-10 of the book, which you can find via the link above).

Now, I know there are a few people who read this blog who also have found this whole issue and debate rather interesting. I’d like to make it slightly more interesting by providing another real life comparison of language change in another language. This one is another attempt at forced language change, something that feminists have been charged with doing. But in this example, the group attempting to force change failed.

And so I ask: If we have two politically motivated language changes, why does one fail and the other succeed so much so that even those who fight the change accidentally fall into it?

And so, with that question in mind, I point you to: Ἡλληνιστεύκοντος byNick Nicholas and his post, Greek diglossia and how it isn’t. The thesis of the post is distinct from this discussion, but the content & history he provides basically begs for parallels to be drawn.

So why does one change succeed and the other fail?