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Micro-change and Macro-change in Diachronic Syntax$
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Eric Mathieu and Robert Truswell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198747840.001.0001

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Modelling transient states in language change

Modelling transient states in language change

(p.75) 6 Modelling transient states in language change
Micro-change and Macro-change in Diachronic Syntax

Gertjan Postma

Oxford University Press

Models of language change may include, apart from the initial and terminal state, an intermediate state T. Building further on Postma (2010), who observed that the dynamics of the transient state T (’failed change’) is algebraically related to the overall change A → B (the former is the first derivative of the latter), we present a generalized algebraic model that includes both the failed change A → B and the successful change A → B. We first generalize the two-state logistic function of A → B to a differential equation (DE) that represents the underlying processes. This DE has a bundle of time shifted logistic curves as its solution. This derives Kroch’s Constant Rate Effect. By modifying this DE, we describe the dynamics of the entire A → T → B process, i.e. we develop a model that includes both the successful and the failed change. The algebraic link between failed change and successful change turns out to be an approximation.

Keywords:   logistic model, language change, Constant Rate Effect, failed changes, coupled differential equations, computer simulation

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