Language Diversity across the Consonant Inventories: A Study in the Framework of Complex Networks

Monojit Choudhury, Animesh Mukherjee, Anupam Basu, Niloy Ganguly, Ashish Garg, Vaibhav Jalan
Arxiv ID: 904.1289Last updated: 4/9/2009
n this paper, we attempt to explain the emergence of the linguistic diversity that exists across the consonant inventories of some of the major language families of the world through a complex network based growth model. There is only a single parameter for this model that is meant to introduce a small amount of randomness in the otherwise preferential attachment based growth process. The experiments with this model parameter indicates that the choice of consonants among the languages within a family are far more preferential than it is across the families. The implications of this result are twofold -- (a) there is an innate preference of the speakers towards acquiring certain linguistic structures over others and (b) shared ancestry propels the stronger preferential connection between the languages within a family than across them. Furthermore, our observations indicate that this parameter might bear a correlation with the period of existence of the language families under investigation.

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