Population Size and the Rate of Language Evolution: A Test Across Indo-European, Austronesian, and Bantu Languages

Frontiers in Psychology Vol/Iss. 9 Frontiers media Published In Pages: ??
By Greenhill, Simon J. , Hua, Xia, Welsh, Caela F., Schneemann, Hilde, Bromham, Lindell


The number of language speakers will predict the rate of word change in a language.


Only significant for the Indo-European language family where smaller-sized languages had significantly more word loss. No significant relationship observed in Austronesian or Bantu languages.


Test NameSupportSignificanceCoefficientTail
Poisson regressionPartially Supportedp < 0.001 for Indo-EuropeanR squared = 0.22 for Indo-Europeanone-tail


Variable NameVariable Type OCM Term(s)
Population SizeIndependentPopulation, Linguistic Identification
Rates of word gain and lossDependentVocabulary, Grammar