1) There are no “phonetic laws.”
2) To treat language as an “organism,” and linguistics as a natural science, is a fallacy without any scientific basis.
3) Language is exclusively psychological. The existence and development of language is governed by purely psychological laws. In human speech, or language, there is not a single phenomenon which is not psychological.
4) Since language exists only in human society, the social aspect must always be considered, in addition to the psychological aspect. Linguistics must be founded not only on the psychology of the individual, but also on sociology (which, unfortunately, has not yet been developed well enough to afford any fruitful conclusions).
5) The laws of the life and development of language have not been discovered yet, but they can be arrived at only through careful inductive research. Present-day linguistics is well on the way toward this goal.
6) The cause, the impulse for all linguistic change, is a tendency toward convenience, toward a minimum of effort in three areas of linguistic activity: in pronunciation (phonation), in hearing and perception (audition), and in linguistic thought (cerebration).
7) All existing and extinct languages arose by way of mixture. Even individual speech, which originates and is formed in contact with fully developed individuals, is the product of mixture and interaction.
8) Many characteristics of historically formed languages can be explained if we assume the previous occurrence of mixture of the peoples and languages in question.
9) The history of language is a process of gradual “humanization,” that is, a growing departure from the linguistic state of animals of a higher order.
10) The historical evolution of the morphology of a language consists in the alternate shifting of emphasis from the end of the word to its beginning, and vice versa. The life of words and sentences can be compared to a perpetuum mobile consisting of constantly oscillating weights which at the same time continuously move in a certain direction.
11) There is no immobility in language. The assumption of invariable roots contained in the same, invariable stems of declension and conjugation, etc., in all related languages is a scholarly invention, a fiction, and at the same time, a hindrance to objective research. In language, as in nature in general, everything moves, everything is alive and changing. Rest, standstill, stagnation are seeming phenomena; they are but special cases of movement with minimum change. The statics of language is only a special case of its dynamics or, rather, its kinetics.
12) In language there is an unending process of shifting the place of contact of the ultimate, no longer divisible linguistic units. A given linguistic unit is either expanded at the expense of another, or it cedes a part of its structure to another unit. One unit disappears and another is formed.
13) The dictum ex nihilo nil fit finds complete confirmation in linguistics. Linguistic units seemingly originating in nothing (e.g., the phonemes or “sounds,” the morphemes) are created from material already at hand which only acquires new form.
14) The object of investigation must be treated as it is, without forcing upon it alien categories.
15) In linguistics, perhaps even more than in history, one must adhere strictly to the requirements of geography and chronology.
16) “The monosyllabism of roots” in the Indo-European languages is an unproven dogma.
17) “Roots” are by no means the monopoly of any one period of development of a language. Every language has roots. New roots can be created endlessly, at any time.
18) For linguistics, as a science dealing with generalizations, the study of living, existing languages is much more important than that of languages which have disappeared and can be reconstructed only on the basis of written records. Only the biologist (zoologist or botanist) who has thoroughly studied living flora and fauna can undertake the study of paleontological remains. Only the linguist who has thoroughly studied a living language can venture to make assumptions about the characteristics of dead languages. The study of living languages must precede the study of extinct languages.
19) According to the doctrine now accepted by Darwinian biologists, the embryo reflects on a smaller scale the changes and transformations of the entire species. Just the opposite takes place in the linguistic development of the child. The child in no way repeats on a smaller scale the linguistic development of an entire nation; on the contrary, he reaches into the future, anticipating in his speech the future state of the national language, and falls back, so to speak, only later, conforming more and more to the language of his environment.
20) The impetus for essential changes in the national language come principally from the language of children. Chidren introduce certain substantial changes in pronunciation and morphological structure. Later they learn to speak “correctly,” on the model of their environment, but the original tendencies leave their traces. The children of these children inherit a disposition toward similar changes, toward the future state of the language, reiterating on their part the same changes. They also subsequently master the linguistic norm of the environment, but the inclination to change is transmitted with ever greater force to the following generations. The accumulation of such traces over a number of generations leads, finally, to definitive changes in the language.
21) Mankind, as an aggregate of individuals endowed with language, has emerged at various times in various places. The beginning of language is not monogenetic, but polygenetic.
22) In investigating language we must strictly distinguish between development and history. History consists in the succession of homogeneous, but different, phenomena. Development consists in the continuity of essential, and not merely phenomenological (concerning only the phenomenon) changes. Development is characteristic of individual language; history, of collective language.