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Here is section 1.2 of "Efficiency in linguistic change":
 
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1.2  When I began writing on language, the prevalent theory was this:
language had begun with inflexible roots, some of these in course of time
became subordinate grammatical implements which were first agglutinated to
and eventually fused with the more substantial elements.  In this way was
achieved the development of inflexional languages such as primitive Aryan
(Indo-European, exemplified in Sanskrit, Greek and Latin); here the
high-water mark was attained, and since then we witness only decay,
degeneracy, and destruction of the beautiful structures of these old
languages.  To this I objected, trying to show that viewed from the point
of view of human energetics so far from being retrogressive the tendency in
historical times has on the whole been a progressive one.
 
Though it is possible that in my endeavour to refute old theories I paid
too little attention to those changes that are not beneficial, I never
maintained that all linguistic changes in all languages and at all times
made for progress; I never was an "optimist a` la Pangloss", but I still
think that I was right in saying that on the whole the average development
was progressive and that mankind has benefited by this evolution.  (See the
detailed exposition in Lang., p. 319-366.)
 
In the summary found ib. p. 364, I said that the superiority of the modern
Aryan languages as compared with the older stages manifests itself in the
following points:
 
(1) The forms are generally shorter, thus involving less muscular exertion
and requiring less time for their enunciation.
(2) There are not so many of them to burden the memory.
(3) Their formation is much more regular.
(4) Their syntactic use also presents fewer irregularities.
(5) Their more analytic and abstract character facilitates expression by
rendering possible a great many combinations and constructions which were
formally impossible and unidiomatic.
(6) The clumsy repetitions known under the name of concord have become
superfluous.
(7) A clear and unambiguous understanding is secured thru a regular word-
order.
 
Each of these points had in the preceding pages been fully documented by
_typical_ examples; no. (2), for instance, thru reference to the chapter
in "Progress" in which the system of OE and ModE had been tabulated in the
same way, filling seven and two pages respectively.  With regard to (3) I
pointed out the very important consideration that when we look at the
actual facts we see that anomaly and flexion go invariably together (Lang.
232): it is thus wrong to say that "the Aryan flexions were once more
numerous and at the same time more distinct and regular," as Sweet says
(Collected Papers 68).
 
These chapters in my book have never been refuted, either as a whole or in
detail.  Most subsequent writers on language simply disregard the question
of progress or retrogression, or even mention it as lying outside the
sphere of scientific linguistics.
 
In reading many books on the history of language one gets the impression
that the history of languages is nothing but a purposeless fluttering
hither and thither.  I tried, and shall again in this treatise try to show
that a great many changes manifest a purpose, conscious or unconscious, to
better existing conditions, and that some changes, though apparently
detrimental, may, if summed up, in the long run prove beneficial and make
for progress.  People have sometimes blundered into improving their
mother-tongue.
 
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James Chandler
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