You are here: Home Publications Some structural aspects of language are more stable than others: A comparison of seven methods

Some structural aspects of language are more stable than others: A comparison of seven methods

Dediu, D., & Cysouw, M. A. (2013). Some structural aspects of language are more stable than others: A comparison of seven methods. PLoS One, 8: e55009. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055009.
Understanding the patterns and causes of differential structural stability is an area of major interest for the study of language change and evolution. It is still debated whether structural features have intrinsic stabilities across language families and geographic areas, or if the processes governing their rate of change are completely dependent upon the specific context of a given language or language family. We conducted an extensive literature review and selected seven different approaches to conceptualising and estimating the stability of structural linguistic features, aiming at comparing them using the same dataset, the World Atlas of Language Structures. We found that, despite profound conceptual and empirical differences between these methods, they tend to agree in classifying some structural linguistic features as being more stable than others. This suggests that there are intrinsic properties of such structural features influencing their stability across methods, language families and geographic areas. This finding is a major step towards understanding the nature of structural linguistic features and their interaction with idiosyncratic, lineage- and area-specific factors during language change and evolution.
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.

 

Street address
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands


Mailing address
P.O. Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Phone:   +31-24-3521911
Fax:        +31-24-3521213
E-mail:   


Public Outreach Officer
Charlotte Horn