Languages Evolve in Punctuational Bursts

  title={Languages Evolve in Punctuational Bursts},
  author={Quentin Douglas Atkinson and Andrew Meade and Chris Venditti and Simon J. Greenhill and Mark Pagel},
  pages={588 - 588}
Linguists speculate that human languages often evolve in rapid or punctuational bursts, sometimes associated with their emergence from other languages, but this phenomenon has never been demonstrated. We used vocabulary data from three of the world's major language groups—Bantu, Indo-European, and Austronesian—to show that 10 to 33% of the overall vocabulary differences among these languages arose from rapid bursts of change associated with language-splitting events. Our findings identify a… 
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  • M. Pagel
  • Biology
    Nature Reviews Genetics
  • 2009
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