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Language reform

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Language reform is a kind of language planning by widespread change to a language. The typical methods of language reform are simplification and linguistic purism. Simplification regularises vocabulary, grammar, or spelling. Purism aligns the language with a form which is deemed 'purer'.

Language reforms are intentional changes to language; this article does not cover natural language change, such as the Great Vowel Shift.


By far the most common language reform is simplification. The most common simplification is spelling reform, but inflection, syntax, vocabulary and word formation can also be targets for simplification. For example, in English, there are many prefixes which mean "the opposite of", e.g. un-, in-, a(n)-, dis-, and de-. A language reform might propose to replace the redundant prefixes with one, such as un-.


Linguistic purism or linguistic protectionism is the prescriptive practice of recognising one form of a language as purer or of intrinsically higher quality than others. The perceived or actual decline may take the form of change of vocabulary, syncretism of grammatical elements, or loanwords, and in this case, the form of a language reform.


Examples of language reforms are:

Instances in popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hybridity versus Revivability: Multiple Causation, Forms and Patterns, Ghil'ad Zuckermann, Journal of Language Contact, Varia 2, pp. 40–67 (2009).
  2. ^ Let my people know! Archived 2011-09-16 at the Wayback Machine, Ghil'ad Zuckermann, Jerusalem Post, May 18, 2009.
  3. ^ Kálmán Szily presented approx. 10,000 words in his book A magyar nyelvújítás szótára ("Dictionary of Hungarian language reform", vol. 1–2: 1902 and 1908), without aiming to be comprehensive.
  4. ^ Abdullahi, Mohamed Diriye (2001). Culture and Customs of Somalia. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-31333-2.
  5. ^ Lewis, I. M. (1999). A Pastoral Democracy: A Study of Pastoralism and Politics Among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa. James Currey Publishers. ISBN 978-0-85255-280-3.
  6. ^ "Turkey - Language Reform: From Ottoman to Turkish". Country Studies. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  • Geoffrey Lewis, The Turkish Language Reform: A Catastrophic Success, Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-19-925669-1.