Non-linguistic Conditions for Causativization as a Linguistic Attractor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

An attractor, in complex systems theory, is any state that is more easily or more often entered or acquired than departed or lost; attractor states therefore accumulate more members than non-attractors, other things being equal. In the context of language evolution, linguistic attractors include sounds, forms, and grammatical structures that are prone to be selected when sociolinguistics and language contact make it possible for speakers to choose between competing forms. The reasons why an element is an attractor are linguistic (auditory salience, ease of processing, paradigm structure, etc.), but the factors that make selection possible and propagate selected items through the speech community are non-linguistic. This paper uses the consonants in personal pronouns to show what makes for an attractor and how selection and diffusion work, then presents a survey of several language families and areas showing that the derivational morphology of pairs of verbs like fear and frighten, or Turkish korkmak 'fear, be afraid' and korkutmak 'frighten, scare', or Finnish istua 'sit' and istutta 'seat (someone)', or Spanish sentarse 'sit down' and sentar 'seat (someone)' is susceptible to selection. Specifically, the Turkish and Finnish pattern, where 'seat' is derived from 'sit by addition of a suffix – is an attractor and a favored target of selection. This selection occurs chiefly in sociolinguistic contexts of what is defined here as linguistic symbiosis, where languages mingle in speech, which in turn is favored by certain demographic, sociocultural, and environmental factors here termed frontier conditions. Evidence is surveyed from northern Eurasia, the Caucasus, North and Central America, and the Pacific and from both modern and ancient languages to raise the hypothesis that frontier conditions and symbiosis favor causativization.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2356
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume8
Number of pages14
ISSN1664-1078
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 515 Psychology
  • 6121 Languages
  • verb
  • causative
  • language spread
  • mixed language
  • selection
  • attractor
  • linguistic symbiosis linguistic
  • frontier conditions
  • PROTO-UTO-AZTECAN
  • SOCIAL NETWORK

Cite this

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title = "Non-linguistic Conditions for Causativization as a Linguistic Attractor",
abstract = "An attractor, in complex systems theory, is any state that is more easily or more often entered or acquired than departed or lost; attractor states therefore accumulate more members than non-attractors, other things being equal. In the context of language evolution, linguistic attractors include sounds, forms, and grammatical structures that are prone to be selected when sociolinguistics and language contact make it possible for speakers to choose between competing forms. The reasons why an element is an attractor are linguistic (auditory salience, ease of processing, paradigm structure, etc.), but the factors that make selection possible and propagate selected items through the speech community are non-linguistic. This paper uses the consonants in personal pronouns to show what makes for an attractor and how selection and diffusion work, then presents a survey of several language families and areas showing that the derivational morphology of pairs of verbs like fear and frighten, or Turkish korkmak 'fear, be afraid' and korkutmak 'frighten, scare', or Finnish istua 'sit' and istutta 'seat (someone)', or Spanish sentarse 'sit down' and sentar 'seat (someone)' is susceptible to selection. Specifically, the Turkish and Finnish pattern, where 'seat' is derived from 'sit by addition of a suffix – is an attractor and a favored target of selection. This selection occurs chiefly in sociolinguistic contexts of what is defined here as linguistic symbiosis, where languages mingle in speech, which in turn is favored by certain demographic, sociocultural, and environmental factors here termed frontier conditions. Evidence is surveyed from northern Eurasia, the Caucasus, North and Central America, and the Pacific and from both modern and ancient languages to raise the hypothesis that frontier conditions and symbiosis favor causativization.",
keywords = "515 Psychology, 6121 Languages, verb, causative, language spread, mixed language, selection, attractor, linguistic symbiosis linguistic, frontier conditions, PROTO-UTO-AZTECAN, SOCIAL NETWORK",
author = "Johanna Nichols",
year = "2018",
month = "1",
day = "23",
doi = "10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02356",
language = "English",
volume = "8",
journal = "Frontiers in Psychology",
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Non-linguistic Conditions for Causativization as a Linguistic Attractor. / Nichols, Johanna.

In: Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 8, 2356, 23.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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N2 - An attractor, in complex systems theory, is any state that is more easily or more often entered or acquired than departed or lost; attractor states therefore accumulate more members than non-attractors, other things being equal. In the context of language evolution, linguistic attractors include sounds, forms, and grammatical structures that are prone to be selected when sociolinguistics and language contact make it possible for speakers to choose between competing forms. The reasons why an element is an attractor are linguistic (auditory salience, ease of processing, paradigm structure, etc.), but the factors that make selection possible and propagate selected items through the speech community are non-linguistic. This paper uses the consonants in personal pronouns to show what makes for an attractor and how selection and diffusion work, then presents a survey of several language families and areas showing that the derivational morphology of pairs of verbs like fear and frighten, or Turkish korkmak 'fear, be afraid' and korkutmak 'frighten, scare', or Finnish istua 'sit' and istutta 'seat (someone)', or Spanish sentarse 'sit down' and sentar 'seat (someone)' is susceptible to selection. Specifically, the Turkish and Finnish pattern, where 'seat' is derived from 'sit by addition of a suffix – is an attractor and a favored target of selection. This selection occurs chiefly in sociolinguistic contexts of what is defined here as linguistic symbiosis, where languages mingle in speech, which in turn is favored by certain demographic, sociocultural, and environmental factors here termed frontier conditions. Evidence is surveyed from northern Eurasia, the Caucasus, North and Central America, and the Pacific and from both modern and ancient languages to raise the hypothesis that frontier conditions and symbiosis favor causativization.

AB - An attractor, in complex systems theory, is any state that is more easily or more often entered or acquired than departed or lost; attractor states therefore accumulate more members than non-attractors, other things being equal. In the context of language evolution, linguistic attractors include sounds, forms, and grammatical structures that are prone to be selected when sociolinguistics and language contact make it possible for speakers to choose between competing forms. The reasons why an element is an attractor are linguistic (auditory salience, ease of processing, paradigm structure, etc.), but the factors that make selection possible and propagate selected items through the speech community are non-linguistic. This paper uses the consonants in personal pronouns to show what makes for an attractor and how selection and diffusion work, then presents a survey of several language families and areas showing that the derivational morphology of pairs of verbs like fear and frighten, or Turkish korkmak 'fear, be afraid' and korkutmak 'frighten, scare', or Finnish istua 'sit' and istutta 'seat (someone)', or Spanish sentarse 'sit down' and sentar 'seat (someone)' is susceptible to selection. Specifically, the Turkish and Finnish pattern, where 'seat' is derived from 'sit by addition of a suffix – is an attractor and a favored target of selection. This selection occurs chiefly in sociolinguistic contexts of what is defined here as linguistic symbiosis, where languages mingle in speech, which in turn is favored by certain demographic, sociocultural, and environmental factors here termed frontier conditions. Evidence is surveyed from northern Eurasia, the Caucasus, North and Central America, and the Pacific and from both modern and ancient languages to raise the hypothesis that frontier conditions and symbiosis favor causativization.

KW - 515 Psychology

KW - 6121 Languages

KW - verb

KW - causative

KW - language spread

KW - mixed language

KW - selection

KW - attractor

KW - linguistic symbiosis linguistic

KW - frontier conditions

KW - PROTO-UTO-AZTECAN

KW - SOCIAL NETWORK

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DO - 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02356

M3 - Article

VL - 8

JO - Frontiers in Psychology

JF - Frontiers in Psychology

SN - 1664-1078

M1 - 2356

ER -