Predicting language evolution: Analogy in morphological change

Project Overview

Project

Predicting language evolution: Analogy in morphological change

Project members:

Dr Helen Sims-Williams

Dr Oliver Bond

Prof Matthew Baerman

Period of award

October 2022 - September 2026

Funder:

The Leverhulme Trust

The staggering diversity of the world’s languages is the cumulative effect of small-scale evolutionary processes. One such process is analogy, where speakers notice patterns in their language and extend them to new environments. Understanding which patterns get replicated like this is the key to revealing the relative likelihood of different pathways of language evolution, casting light not only on language change, but also human prehistory and the inner workings of the human mind. This multidisciplinary project uses innovative computational and statistical techniques to produce a predictive model of analogy, a missing puzzle piece in a complete theory of language change. 

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