Skip to main content

An experimental study of social selection and frequency of interaction in linguistic diversity

Buy Article:

$32.93 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Abstract:

Computational simulations have provided evidence that the use of linguistic cues as group markers plays an important role in the development of linguistic diversity (Nettle & Dunbar, 1997; Nettle, 1999). Other simulations, however, have contradicted these findings (Livingstone & Fyfe, 1999; Livingstone, 2002). Similar disagreements exist in sociolinguistics (e.g. Labov, 1963, 2001; Trudgill, 2004, 2008a; Baxter et al., 2009). This paper describes an experimental study in which participants played an anonymous economic game using an instant-messenger-style program and an artificial 'alien language'. The competitiveness of the game and the frequency with which players interacted were manipulated. Given frequent enough interaction with team-mates, players were able to use linguistic cues to identify themselves. In the most competitive condition, this led to divergence in the language, which did not occur in other conditions. This suggests that both frequency of interaction and a pressure to use language to mark identity play a significant role in encouraging linguistic divergence over short periods, but that neither is sufficient on its own.

Keywords: COOPERATION; CULTURAL EVOLUTION; EXPERIMENTAL; HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS; LANGUAGE CHANGE; SOCIOLINGUISTICS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/is.11.1.06rob

Publication date: 2010-03-01

More about this publication?
  • Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more