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Complexity in Language

Book description

The question of complexity, as in what makes one language more 'complex' than another, is a long-established topic of debate amongst linguists. Recently, this issue has been complemented with the view that languages are complex adaptive systems, in which emergence and self-organization play major roles. However, few students of the phenomenon have gone beyond the basic assessment of the number of units and rules in a language (what has been characterized as 'bit complexity') or shown some familiarity with the science of complexity. This book reveals how much can be learned by overcoming these limitations, especially by adopting developmental and evolutionary perspectives. The contributors include specialists of language acquisition, evolution and ecology, grammaticization, phonology, and modeling, all of whom approach languages as dynamical, emergent, and adaptive complex systems.

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