Can language change be modelled as an evolutionary process? Can notions
like variation, selection and competition be fruitfully applied to facts of
language development? The present volume ties together various strands of
linguistic research which can bring us towards an answer to these questions.
In one of the youngest and rapidly growing areas of linguistic research,
mathematical models and simulations of competition based developments have
been applied to instances of language change. By matching the predicted and
observed developmental trends, researchers gauge existing models to the
needs of linguistic applications and evaluate the fruitfulness of
evolutionary models in linguistics. The present volume confronts these
studies with more empirically-based studies in creolization and historical
language change which bear on key concepts of evolutionary models. What
does it mean for a linguistic construction to survive its competitors? How
do the interacting factors in phases of creolization differ from those in
ordinary language change, and how - consequently - might Creole languages
differ structurally from older languages? Some of the authors, finally,
also address the question how different aspects of our linguistic
competence tie in with our more elementary cognitive capacities.
The volume contains contributions by Brady Clark et al., Elly van Gelderen,
Alain Kihm, Manfred Krifka, Wouter Kusters, Robert van Rooij, Anette
Rosenbach, John McWhorter, Teresa Satterfield, Michael Tomasello and
Elizabeth C. Traugott.
The book brings together contributions from two areas of research: the
study of language evolution by means of methods from artifical
intelligence/artificial life (like computer simulations and analytic
mathematical methods) on the one hand, and empirically oriented research
from historical linguistics and creolisation studies that uses concepts
from evolutionary theory as a heuristic tool in a qualitative way. The book
is thus interesting for readers from both traditions because it supplies
them with information about relevant ongoing research and useful methods
and data from the other camp.