Descriptive adequacy of the S-curve model in diachronic studies of language change

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The S-shaped curve is typically used to model the diffusion of linguistic change across time. This paper looks at the degree to which the model applies to empirical real-time data of some time-depth. An S-shaped curve is commonly attested in the quantitative studies discussed, but it is not the only pattern that emerges from systematic analyses. To put the model and its descriptive adequacy into perspective, I consider both typical cases and exceptions to them, notably change reversals. I also draw attention to the level of analytic detail that has a major role to play in empirical research into processes of language change and their outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCan We Predict Linguistic Change?
EditorsChristina Sanchez-Stockhammer
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Publication date21 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2015
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameStudies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English
PublisherResearch Unit for Variation, Contacts and Change in English (VARIENG)
ISSN (Electronic)1797-4453

Fields of Science

  • 6121 Languages
  • language change
  • S-curve model

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