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Title: The Emerging Field of Language Dynamics
Author(s): Soren Wichmann
Journal Title: Language and Linguistic Compass
Volume: 2
Issue: 3
Page Range: 442-455
Publication Date: Mar-2008
Abstract: Large linguistic databases, especially databases having a global coverage, such as the World Atlas of Language Structures, the Automated Similarity Judgment Pro gram, and Ethnologue, are making it possible to systematically investigate many aspects of how languages change and compete for viability. Agent-based computer simulations supplement such empirical data by analyzing the necessary and suffic ient parameters for the current global distributions of languages or linguistic features. By combining empirical datasets with simulations and applying quantita tive methods, it is now possible to address fundamental questions, such as"what are the relative rates of change in different parts of languages?","why are ther e a few large language families, many intermediate ones, and even more small one s?","do small languages change faster or slower than large ones?", or "how does the borrowing of words relate to the borrowing of structural features?"

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