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Which parts of language are the most stable?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics, General Linguistics.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0840-1357
2008 (English)In: Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung, ISSN 0942-2919, Vol. 61, no 3, 234-250 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper presents an algorithm intended to quantify the diachronic stability of linguistic characteristics. It is argued that a linguistic feature whose presence or absence is best predicted by language families is a stable feature. Conversely, a feature that correlates better with geographical areas than with families is one that is sensitive to diffusion. Contrasting the structural heterogeneity within families with that found within geographical areas, it is thus possible to make a statement regarding the varying diachronic stability of specific features. While the main aim of the paper is methodological exploration, and while the method certainly not devoid of problems, I propose that the current approach can be useful in studies of language contact and long-range historical comparison.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 61, no 3, 234-250 p.
Keyword [en]
stability, change, Herfindahl-Hirschman index, typology, World Atlas of Language Structures
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-128232DOI: 10.1524/stuf.2008.0023OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-128232DiVA: diva2:913531
Available from: 2016-03-21 Created: 2016-03-21 Last updated: 2016-03-22Bibliographically approved

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Parkvall, Mikael
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