Friday, December 4, 2015

The Mechanisms of Linguistic Diversity

A blog post does a solid job of setting forth the conventional wisdom regarding why linguistic diversity emerges and survives which I recently set forth in a much less comprehensive and unsourced well in some recent blog comments myself.

In a nutshell, languages grow more elaborate over time due to random habitual noise that gets trimmed back when there are significant numbers of adult foreign language learners whose imperfect language learning ability tends to result in the simplification of the language (and in substrate influences).

For the most part, to borrow evolutionary language, the differences in the choices languages make about their grammars are selective fitness neutral with no intrinsic benefits or detriments, and have no particular relationship to other cultural practices of a community except by virtue of historical accident due to the communities having common origins.

Furthermore, communities also intentionally differentiate themselves from other communities linguistically to allow for identification and communication of in group members while excluding and concealing communications from outsiders.

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