Cognitive influences in language evolution : Psycholinguistic predictors of loan word borrowing

Monaghan, Padraic John and Roberts, Seán G. (2019) Cognitive influences in language evolution : Psycholinguistic predictors of loan word borrowing. Cognition, 186. pp. 147-158. ISSN 0010-0277

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Languages change due to social, cultural, and cognitive influences. In this paper, we provide an assessment of these cognitive influences on diachronic change in the vocabulary. Previously, tests of stability and change of vocabulary items have been conducted on small sets of words where diachronic change is imputed from cladistics studies. Here, we show for a substantially larger set of words that stability and change in terms of documented borrowings of words into English and into Dutch can be predicted by psycholinguistic properties of words that reflect their representational fidelity. We found that grammatical category, word length, age of acquisition, and frequency predict borrowing rates, but frequency has a non-linear relationship. Frequency correlates negatively with probability of borrowing for high-frequency words, but positively for low-frequency words. This borrowing evidence documents recent, observable diachronic change in the vocabulary enabling us to distinguish between change associated with transmission during language acquisition and change due to innovations by proficient speakers.

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Journal Article
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Cognition. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Cognition, 186, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.02.007
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? language evolutionvocabulary changeloan-wordsfrequencyage of acquisitionword lengthlanguage acquisitionlanguage incrementationlinguistics and languagecognitive neuroscienceexperimental and cognitive psychologylanguage and linguistics ??
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18 Feb 2019 09:20
Last Modified:
01 Jan 2024 00:18