Trees, waves and linkages

Models of language diversification

Authored by: Alexandre François

The Routledge Handbook of Historical Linguistics

Print publication date:  June  2014
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415527897
eBook ISBN: 9781315794013
Adobe ISBN: 9781317743248


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The number of languages spoken on the planet has oscillated up and down throughout the history of mankind. 1 Different social factors operate in opposite ways, some resulting in the decrease of language diversity, others favouring the emergence of new languages. Thus, languages fade away and disappear when their speakers undergo some pressure towards abandoning their heritage language and replacing it in all contexts with a new language that is in some way more socially prominent (Simpson, this volume). The process of language extinction may be rapid or slow, and varies in intensity depending on historical circumstances.

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