Languages Evolve in Punctuational Bursts

@article{Atkinson2008LanguagesEI,
  title={Languages Evolve in Punctuational Bursts},
  author={Quentin Douglas Atkinson and Andrew Meade and Chris Venditti and Simon J. Greenhill and Mark Pagel},
  journal={Science},
  year={2008},
  volume={319},
  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… 
New Evidence from Linguistic Phylogenetics Identifies Limits to Punctuational Change
TLDR
The present results suggest that there is also room for controversy over whether evolution is punctuated by speciation events with bursts of cladogenetic changes, or whether evolution tends to be of a more gradual, anagenetic nature.
Correlational Studies in Typological and Historical Linguistics
We review a number of recent studies that have identified either correlations between different linguistic features (e.g., implicational universals) or correlations between linguistic features and
Evolutionary dynamics of language systems
TLDR
It is suggested that different subsystems of language have differing dynamics and that careful, nuanced models of language change will be needed to extract deeper signal from the noise of parallel evolution, areal readaptation, and contact.
Population Size and the Rate of Language Evolution: A Test Across Indo-European, Austronesian, and Bantu Languages
TLDR
Comparative language data for 153 pairs of closely-related sister languages from three of the world's largest language families are analyzed, finding some evidence that rates of word loss are significantly greater in smaller languages for the Indo-European comparisons, but there are no significant patterns in the other two language families.
Phylo-linguistics: Enacting Darwin’s Linguistic Image
TLDR
A methodological shift brought this theoretical analogy to a new life by actually accommodating computational models and methods from (molecular) Phylogenetics to explore and test hypotheses about the evolution of languages and cultures.
Phonemic Diversity Supports a Serial Founder Effect Model of Language Expansion from Africa
TLDR
It is shown that the number of phonemes used in a global sample of 504 languages is also clinal and fits a serial founder–effect model of expansion from an inferred origin in Africa, pointing to parallel mechanisms shaping genetic and linguistic diversity and supports an African origin of modern human languages.
Language Phylogenies Reveal Expansion Pulses and Pauses in Pacific Settlement
TLDR
The results are robust to assumptions about the rooting and calibration of the trees and demonstrate the combined power of linguistic scholarship, database technologies, and computational phylogenetic methods for resolving questions about human prehistory.
Human language as a culturally transmitted replicator
  • M. Pagel
  • Biology
    Nature Reviews Genetics
  • 2009
TLDR
For many comparative questions of anthropology and human behavioural ecology, historical processes estimated from linguistic phylogenies may be more relevant than those estimated from genes.
The relationship between population size and rates of language evolution
TLDR
The background on the relationship between population size and rate of language change is provided, some of the contrasting hypotheses and methodological techniques are discussed and the research currently being conducted that attempts to clarify the relationship is explained.
Phylogenetic Methods in Historical Linguistics: Greek as a Case Study *
We review and assess the diff erent ways in which research in evolutionary-theory-inspired biology has infl uenced research in historical linguistics, and then focus on an evolutionary-theory
...
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 12 REFERENCES
The rise and fall of languages
This book puts forward a different approach to language change, the punctuated equilibrium model. This is based on the premise that during most of the 100,000 or more years that humans have had
The handbook of historical linguistics
Part I: Introduction:. On Language, Change, and Language Change -- Or, Of History, Linguistics, and Historical Linguistics: Richard D. Janda & Brian D. Joseph, both The Ohio State University. Part
Dissertations on the English language
A Key into the Language of America [1643] Roger Williams 205pp, The Indian Grammar Begun [1666] John Eliot 70pp Observations on the Language of the Muhhekaneew Indians [1787] Jonathan Edwards 20pp,
History, Phylogeny, and Evolution in Polynesia
CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 28, Number 4, August-October 1987 ~ r987 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved ooII-po4!87h804-ooo4$:l.6S History, Phylogeny, and
Molecular Phylogenies Link Rates of Evolution and Speciation
TLDR
The results provide both a genetic counterpart to and a plausible link with the observations of punctuated equilibrium of morphological traits reported in the fossil record, and indicate that rapid genetic evolution frequently attends speciation.
Sociolinguistic theory : linguistic variation and its socialsignificance
List of Figures. List of Tables. Series Editor's Preface. Preface to the First Edition. Preface to the Second Edition. Preface to the Revised Edition. Acknowledgments. 1. Correlations. 1.1 The Domain
Detecting the node-density artifact in phylogeny reconstruction.
TLDR
In a sample of 50,000 random data sets, the delta test detects the node-density effect in 94.4% of cases in which it is present, and when the artifact is not present the test showed a type I error rate of approximately 1.69%, incorrectly reporting the artifact in 169 data sets.
...
...