Societies of strangers do not speak less complex languages

Science Advances Vol/Iss. 9(33) American Association for the Advancement of Science Published In Pages: eadf7704
By Shcherbakova, Olena, Michaelis, Susanne Maria, Haynie, Hannah J., Passmore, Sam, Gast, Volker, Gray, Russell D. , Greenhill, Simon J. , Blasi, Damian E., Skirgård, Hedvig


Is grammatical complexity shaped by sociodemographic and sociolinguistic factors? The previously accepted "linguistic niche hypothesis" claims that with an increased number of nonnative speakers in a social group (high exotericity), grammatic complexity decreases; on the other hand, grammatical complexity increases amongst isolated linguistic communities (low exotericity). Through the use of spatiophylogenetic modelling of 1314 languages, the authors of this study do not find adequate evidence to support the linguistic niche hypothesis. Instead, they suggest that linguistic complexity is better predicted by phylogeny and geographic contiguity.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
GrambankOther researchersGlobal dataset of grammatical structures.
Bouckaert et al. 2022 global tree of EDGE languagesOther researchersGlobal tree of evolutionarily distinct, globally endangered languages.
Glottolog genealogical classificationOther researchers

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