chapter  6
31 Pages

A micro-analysis of historical change

So far we have discussed the psychological explanation for the suffixing preference in rather general terms, without appealing to any direct experimental data, and without integrating it fully with the diachronic facts discussed in chapter 4. In this final chapter I attempt to pinpoint the exact historical locus of the engagement of the dispreference, and in so doing refine the explanatory hypothesis itself, by examining the cognitive events which lie at the root of the diachronic account. The material in this chapter constitutes, then, an attempt to investigate the mental processes involved in a putative historical change. This will perhaps be viewed by some as premature and over-ambitious given our current state of knowledge and experimental techniques; the account may also at times seem to rely too heavily on (informed) speculation to carry the hypothesis forward. I believe, however, that the cohesiveness of the resulting theory and the lack of persuasive alternatives justify this 'micro-analysis' of historical change.