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The Social Origins of Language

By Daniel Dor

Presents a new theoretical framework for the origins of human language and sets key issues in language evolution in their wider context within biological and cultural evolution


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Preposition Placement in English: A Usage-Based Approach

By Thomas Hoffmann

This is the first study that empirically investigates preposition placement across all clause types. The study compares first-language (British English) and second-language (Kenyan English) data and will therefore appeal to readers interested in world Englishes. Over 100 authentic corpus examples are discussed in the text, which will appeal to those who want to see 'real data'


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Academic Paper


Title: Revisiting transmission and diffusion: An agent-based model of vowel chain shifts across large communities
Author: James N. Stanford
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~linguist/faculty/stanford.html
Institution: Dartmouth College
Author: Laurence A. Kenny
Institution: Dartmouth College
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: In this study, we present the first agent-based simulation of vowel chain shifts across large communities, providing a parsimonious reinterpretation of Labov's (2007) notions of transmission, diffusion, and incrementation. Labov determined that parent-to-child transmission faithfully reproduces structural patterns such as the Northern Cities Shift (NCS), but adult-to-adult diffusion does not. NCS is transmitted faithfully to new generations of U.S. Inland North children. But St. Louis speakers, depending only on adult-adult contact, only attain an incomplete, unsystematic version. Labov (2007) attributed the difference to children's superior language-learning ability; transmission and diffusion are categorically different processes in that approach. By contrast, our multiagent simulation suggests that such transmission/diffusion effects can be derived by simple density of interactions and simple exemplar learning; we also find that incrementation is a natural outcome of this model. Unlike Labov (2007), this model does not require a dichotomy between transmission and diffusion. While dichotomous assumptions about child versus adult learning may be necessary in other contexts, our results suggest that the NCS effects in Labov (2007) may be explained economically in terms of simple density of interactions between speakers. Our results also provide an agent-based perspective supporting and explicating the notion of speech community.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Language Variation and Change Vol. 25, Issue 2, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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