Kauhanen, H., Gopal, D., Galla T. & Bermúdez-Otero, R. (2018)
Geospatial distributions reflect rates of evolution of features of language
Different structural features of human language change at different rates and thus exhibit different temporal stabilities. Existing methods of linguistic stability estimation depend upon the prior genealogical classification of the world’s languages into language families; these methods result in unreliable stability estimates for features which are sensitive to horizontal transfer between families and whenever data are aggregated from families of divergent time depths. To overcome these problems, we describe a method of stability estimation without family classifications, based on mathematical modelling and the analysis of contemporary geospatial distributions of linguistic features. ... read more
Kauhanen, H. & Walkden, G. (in press)
Deriving the Constant Rate Effect
Natural Language & Linguistic Theory.
The Constant Rate Hypothesis (Kroch, 1989) states that when grammar competition leads to language change, the rate of replacement is the same in all contexts affected by the change (the Constant Rate Effect, or CRE). Despite nearly three decades of empirical work into this hypothesis, the theoretical foundations of the CRE remain problematic: it can be shown that the standard way of operationalizing the CRE via sets of independent logistic curves is neither sufficient nor necessary for assuming that a single change has occurred. ... read more
constant rate effect
Kauhanen, H. (2017)
Journal of Linguistics, 53(2), 327--358.
Language change is neutral if the probability of a language learner adopting any given linguistic variant only depends on the frequency of that variant in the learner’s environment. Ruling out non-neutral motivations of change, be they sociolinguistic, computational, articulatory or functional, a theory of neutral change insists that at least some instances of language change are essentially due to random drift, demographic noise and the social dynamics of finite populations; consequently, it has remained little investigated in the historical and sociolinguistics literature, which has generally been on the lookout for more substantial causes of change. ... read more