What shapes language diversity?

Learning a language takes immense effort and time. At one point, you start to wonder why the human race started using different languages and what factors contributed to the language diversity we have today. Researchers at Colorado State University asked the same question and developed a model that would compute patterns of language diversity. Professor Michael Gavin and his research team used a computer model that would follow simple rules to see the patterns of language diversification. They set three hypothesis: 1)groups would fill unoccupied spaces, 2) rainfall would limit population density, and 3) groups would divide when the population reached a certain limit. They tested this this model in Australia, and found that the latter two hypothesis had strong impact on number of languages and language diversification pattern.

Of course, there are numerous other factors that influence language diversification patterns. While this study does not incorporate all the factors, it is one of the few attempts to experimentally test how language evolves and spreads. If we can increase the number of factors into the computational model, we will better understand how language develops and even predict how languages will develop in the future.

 

Link to the original article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170210150246.htm

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