Past Seminars Seminários Já Decorridos 2014

Language Change as a Generalized Evolutionary Process

By: Gareth Baxter
From: Universidade de Aveiro
At: Instituto de Investigação Interdisciplinar, Anfiteatro
[2014-03-06] 14:00

A generalized evolutionary process, of which biological evolution is the most famous example, requires replication, generation of variation, and selection. Language change, when viewed as the competition between different "ways of saying the same thing" in a speech community, can be considered to be another example.

I will describe a numerical model of the language change process, based on William Croft's evolutionary framework. In constructing the model, we encounter multiple forms of selection not necessarily found in standard models of evolution. Traces of these different kinds of selection can be observed in different phenomena observed in linguistic studies, which can be studied using the numerical model.