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Modeling causes of language change and conservatism

Project description

Investigating causes of language change and conservatism

Human language is similar to a biological organism in that it changes over time – adapting to newly emerging factors. In the case of language, change can be seen as a shift in the frequency of a particular variant of linguistic expression (e.g. word order) in speech. If successful adaptation allows for a more efficient communication (clearer for the listener and/or more economical for the speaker), we may ask why does language change take so long (centuries), provided that humans are extremely fast learners? The ERC-funded CAUSALITY project will answer these questions. It will investigate factors that push language change forward and those work against it. The project will carry out computer simulations with artificial speakers and listeners and compare the results against historical data from three West Germanic languages, which will include creating a large treebank of historical Dutch.


Net EU contribution
€ 1 172 500,00
Sint Pietersnieuwstraat 25
9000 Gent

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Vlaams Gewest Prov. Oost-Vlaanderen Arr. Gent
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00