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The relationship between diversity and dynamics in language

Variation linguistics at the Meertens Institute investigates language change as a result of internal and external forces. The direction in which languages change is determined by an algorithm related to theory of evolution. The grammar generates relatively arbitrary variation; the context selects specific variant from the offer on the basis of social or regional prestige. Finally, language acquisition takes care of the transfer of the selected variant from mother to child. Research will have to show to what extent dynamics in dialects and other language varieties (e.g. the process of regionalization) support such a view of language change.

Projects: Life cycle of liquids