Title (eng)

Linguistic diversification as a long-term effect of asymmetric priming: an adaptive-dynamics approach


Andreas Baumann

Lotte Sommerer


This paper tries to narrow the gap between diachronic linguistics and research on population dynamics by presenting a mathematical model which corroborates the notion that the cognitive mechanism of asymmetric priming can account for observable tendencies in language change. The asymmetric-priming hypothesis asserts that items with more substance are more likely to prime items with less substance than the reverse. Although these effects operate on a very short time scale (e.g. within an utterance) it has been argued that their long-term effect might be reductionist, unidirectional processes in language change. In this paper, we study a mathematical model of the interaction of linguistic items which differ in their formal substance, showing that in addition to reductionist effects, asymmetric priming also results in diversification and stable coexistence of two formally related variants. The model will be applied to phenomena in the sublexical as well as in the lexical domain.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 - Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

CC BY-SA 4.0 International


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o:424738 Openaire v3.0 collection
o:168770 Open Access Collection