How the human brain changes the language it speaks

(ORDO NEWS) — To write in any language directly about the changes in the language itself seems like a real trap and torture. But this did not confuse the researchers from Austria.

Any language of any nation is constantly changing. Researchers from the University of Vienna have found that if certain sound patterns (speech patterns) occur frequently in a language, their use by native speakers becomes even more frequent over time.

The reason for this development is that the brain perceives, processes and remembers frequent and, therefore, “prototypical” (prototypical) sound patterns better.

The languages ​​of the past are very different from today’s languages. This applies not only to their vocabulary and grammar, but also to sounding speech as such.

Teresa Matzinger and Nikolaus Ritt from the Department of English at the University of Vienna investigated what factors are responsible for these changes and what they say about our brain’s processing capabilities.

How the human brain changes the language it speaks 2

Conclusion of scientists

The brain prefers those speech turns that fall into the constant everyday life of a person. To investigate and prove this, Matzinger and Ritt analyzed over 40,000 words from early medieval English texts.

They determined the length of vowels, for example, using dictionaries or taking into account all adjacent sounds. Then they calculated the frequency of occurrence of words with long and short vowels.

“One generation of speakers speaks a particular language variety. Children of this generation perceive, process, and assimilate the frequent patterns of their parents’ generation more easily than the less frequent ones, and therefore use these patterns even more often.

This second generation of speakers then passes on the slightly modified language to their children,” explains Matzinger.

We also notice this gradual change in language from the fact that our grandparents and our children speak slightly differently.

If this process takes place over many generations and centuries, the language changes so much that past varieties are difficult to understand for today’s people.

“In our study, we showed that our brain’s overall ability to perceive and remember frequent patterns is an important factor in how languages ​​change,” Matzinger concludes.


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