In our Brevia, we used the example of Webster’s Dictionary–widely regarded as the inaugurating dictionary of American English–to illustrate how the desire for a distinct social identity can motivate language changes, such as spelling. Of course, some changes may have begun much earlier. We are not aware that anyone has measured how rapid or gradual these changes were by using the sorts of quantitative methods we have developed, but it would be informative to do so….

save Download