Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info


New from Oxford University Press!

ad

Oxford Handbook of Corpus Phonology

Edited by Jacques Durand, Ulrike Gut, and Gjert Kristoffersen

Offers the first detailed examination of corpus phonology and serves as a practical guide for researchers interested in compiling or using phonological corpora


New from Cambridge University Press!

ad

The Languages of the Jews: A Sociolinguistic History

By Bernard Spolsky

A vivid commentary on Jewish survival and Jewish speech communities that will be enjoyed by the general reader, and is essential reading for students and researchers interested in the study of Middle Eastern languages, Jewish studies, and sociolinguistics.


New from Brill!

ad

Indo-European Linguistics

New Open Access journal on Indo-European Linguistics is now available!


Academic Paper


Title: On the power-law distribution of language family sizes
Author: Søren K. Wichmann
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://email.eva.mpg.de/~wichmann/
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics
Abstract: When the sizes of language families of the world, measured by the number of languages contained in each family, are plotted in descending order on a diagram where the x-axis represents the place of each family in the rank-order (the largest family having rank 1, the next-largest, rank 2, and so on) and the y-axis represents the number of languages in the family determining the rank-ordering, it is seen that the distribution closely approximates a curve defined by the formula y=ax. Such 'power-law' distributions are known to characterize a wide range of social, biological, and physical phenomena and are essentially of a stochastic nature. It is suggested that the apparent power-law distribution of language family sizes is of relevance when evaluating overall classifications of the world's languages, for the analysis of taxonomic structures, for developing hypotheses concerning the prehistory of the world's languages, and for modelling the future extinction of language families.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Journal of Linguistics Vol. 41, Issue 1, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



Back
Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page