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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Title: The Emerging Field of Language Dynamics
Author(s): S�ren Wichmann
Journal Title: Language and Linguistic Compass
Volume: 2
Issue: 3
Page Range: 442�455
Publication Date: Mar-2008
Abstract: Large linguistic databases, especially databases having a global coverage, such as the World Atlas of Language Structures, the Automated Similarity Judgment Program, and Ethnologue, are making it possible to systematically investigate many aspects of how languages change and compete for viability. Agent-based computer simulations supplement such empirical data by analyzing the necessary and sufficient parameters for the current global distributions of languages or linguistic features. By combining empirical datasets with simulations and applying quantitative methods, it is now possible to address fundamental questions, such as �what are the relative rates of change in different parts of languages?�, �why are there a few large language families, many intermediate ones, and even more small ones?�, �do small languages change faster or slower than large ones?�, or �how does the borrowing of words relate to the borrowing of structural features?�

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