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LANGUAGES EVOLVE IN A SIMILAR WAY TO HUMANS AND ANIMALS

Psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Memphis have released a new study on linguistic evolution that challenges the prominent hypothesis for why languages differ throughout the world...


The study argues that human languages may adapt more like biological organisms than previously thought and that the more common and popular the language, the simpler its construction to facilitate its survival.

Traditional thinking is that languages develop based upon random change and historical drift. For example, English and Turkish are very different languages based upon histories that separate them in space and time. For years, it has been the leading  assumption in the linguistic sciences.

However, the researchers have found striking relationships between the demographic properties of a language -- such as its population and global spread -- and the grammatical complexity of those languages.

Languages having the most speakers -- and those that have spread around the world -- were found to have far simpler grammars, specifically morphology, than languages spoken by few people and in circumscribed regions.

For example, languages spoken by more than 100,000 people are almost six times more likely to have simple verb conjugations compared to languages spoken by fewer than 100,000 people.

For the comeplete article see: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100121140347.htm