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How Many Languages Are There?

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The answer is, of course, a bit more complicated than you might think.
Written with Molly Ruhl and Gretchen McCulloch. Gretchen's podcast has an episode all about this:

Gretchen's book BECAUSE INTERNET, all about the evolution of internet language, is available:

(Those are affiliate links that give a commission to me or Gretchen, depending on country!)

Graphics by William Marler:
Audio mix by Graham Haerther:

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Burridge, J. (2017). Spatial evolution of human dialects. Physical Review. X, 7(3), 031008.
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Labov, W. (1973). Sociolinguistic patterns (Conduct and communication, 4). Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Laakso, J. (2018). Language borders and cultural encounters: A linguistic view on interdisciplinarity in the research of intercultural contacts. In Palander, M., Riionheimo, H., & Koivisto, V. On the border of language and dialect. (pp. 38-55) Studia Fennica Linguistica
Lupyan, Gary, & Dale, Rick. (2016). Why Are There Different Languages? The Role of Adaptation in Linguistic Diversity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20(9), 649-660.
Bybee, J. L. (2006). From Usage to Grammar: The Mind's Response to Repetition. Language (Baltimore), 82(4), 711-733.
Bucholtz, M. & Hall, K. (2005) Identity and interaction: A sociocultural linguistic approach. Discourse Studies. vol. 7 (4-2): 585-614.
Bucholtz, M. (1999). Why be normal?: Language and identity practices in a community of nerd girls. Language in Society, 28(2), 203-223.
Steels, L. (2011). Modeling the cultural evolution of language. Physics of Life Reviews, 8(4), 339-356.
Honkola, T., Ruokolainen, K., Syrjnen, K., Leino, U. P., Tammi, I., Wahlberg, N., & Vesakoski, O. (2018). Evolution within a language: environmental differences contribute to divergence of dialect groups. BMC evolutionary biology, 18(1), 132.
Austin, P.K. & Sallabank, J. (2011). Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages. Cambridge University Press.
New York Times / Associated Press (2017). Icelanders Seek to Keep Their Language Alive and Out of the Latin Bin

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