Monday, 30 May 2016

Phylogenesis: Changing System Probabilities

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 555) 
Historical change in language is typically a quantitative process, in which probabilities in systems at every level are gradually nudged in one direction or another, now and again becoming categorical so that some systemic upheaval takes place. Each instantiation of a tense form, say, whenever someone is speaking or writing in English, minutely perturbs the probabilities of the system …