Language nerdery knows no bounds

As an enthusiastically reformed prescriptivist, I am fascinated by the ways that language changes over time (as well as fascinated by language in general).  I am, as William Safire punned, in love with Norma Loquendi.  As a result of this interest I am incapable of reading linguistics blogs that discuss pronunciation differences without trying out the different pronunciations (trap-bath split, anyone?).  Catch me at my desk at the right moment and I may be muttering “hot…office…hot…office” over and over again to see if they are the same vowel in my dialect*, or figuring out if “truck” is pronounced “chruck.”**  This article, however, led me to new heights, i.e., the irresistible desire to try out the signs described, even though I do not speak BSL (or ASL beyond the bare basics of fingerspelling and a half-dozen signs).

I try hard to remember that sign language, being a language, behaves as other languages do, and yet reports of evolutions like these come as a surprise to me, as did my recent discovery that signs have etymologies.  Good information for my stubborn brain that wants to bracket sign language in its own category, probably to the disservice of those who speak it.

*No, but very close.

**Believe it or not, yes.

 

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