Rate of language evolution is affected by population size

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Vol/Iss. 112(7) National Academy of Sciences Washington, D.C Published In Pages: 2097-2102
By Bromham, Lindell, Hua, Xia, Fitzpatrick, Thomas G., Greenhill, Simon J.


Population size is generally assumed to play a pivotal role in the evolution of languages and cultures, but the expected patterns and potential mechanisms of change are unsettled. Theoretical models are limited by this uncertainty because they require making prior assumptions about language evolution. Using a sample of 20 Polynesian languages, authors test the effect of population size on the gain, loss, and total change of basic vocabulary words.

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