Grammar changes faster than vocabulary (?)

This linguistic discovery also serves as a reminder of why Bible translations must be revised/updated with each generation:

I put a question mark on this thread title because the study was restricted to 81 Austronesian languages—and I’m not yet certain that linguists can be sure that this is true of all human languages, although I think it entirely plausible that grammar changes faster than vocabulary. (Of course, “vocabulary change” can be somewhat ambiguous. It can simply refer to the current set of words used in the language. Or it can also refer to the set of meanings associated with those words. The latter can change surprisingly rapidly, such as how I’ve observed the word gay change in my lifetime. And the word shall has had shifts towards possible obsolescence. Perhaps it will soon be classified as archaic, though the related word should remains strong.)


My personal view is that natural languages don’t actually have grammar. We create a grammar in an attempt to systematize language. But language is not compelled to follow our grammar. Or, in other words, language isn’t actually systematizable. It is alive and organic.

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These two things are not in conflict. Language clearly does have grammar, which is part of how we acquire it. However the grammar is not always rigid and it can shift and change. Both can be true.