A new paper at PNAS, Evolutionary dynamics of language systems, by Greenhill et al. (2017).
… Read the rest “Forces driving grammatical change are different to those driving lexical change”
Do different aspects of language evolve in different ways? Here, we infer the rates of change in lexical and grammatical data from 81 languages of the Pacific. We show that, in general, grammatical features tend to change faster and have higher amounts of conflicting signal than basic vocabulary. We suggest that subsystems of language show differing patterns of dynamics and propose that modeling this rate variation may allow us to extract more signal, and thus trace language history deeper than has been previously