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dc.contributor.authorPagel, Marken_NZ
dc.contributor.authorBeaumont, Marken_NZ
dc.contributor.authorMeade, Andrewen_NZ
dc.contributor.authorVerkerk, Annemarieen_NZ
dc.contributor.authorCalude, Andreea S.en_NZ
dc.coverage.spatialUnited Statesen_NZ
dc.date.accessioned2019-07-01T03:50:39Z
dc.date.available2019-04-09en_NZ
dc.date.available2019-07-01T03:50:39Z
dc.date.issued2019en_NZ
dc.identifier.citationPagel, M., Beaumont, M., Meade, A., Verkerk, A., & Calude, A. S. (2019). Dominant words rise to the top by positive frequency-dependent selection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(15), 7397–7402. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1816994116en
dc.identifier.urihttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/12661
dc.description.abstractA puzzle of language is how speakers come to use the same words for particular meanings, given that there are often many competing alternatives (e.g., "sofa," "couch," "settee"), and there is seldom a necessary connection between a word and its meaning. The well-known process of random drift-roughly corresponding in this context to "say what you hear"-can cause the frequencies of alternative words to fluctuate over time, and it is even possible for one of the words to replace all others, without any form of selection being involved. However, is drift alone an adequate explanation of a shared vocabulary? Darwin thought not. Here, we apply models of neutral drift, directional selection, and positive frequency-dependent selection to explain over 417,000 word-use choices for 418 meanings in two natural populations of speakers. We find that neutral drift does not in general explain word use. Instead, some form of selection governs word choice in over 91% of the meanings we studied. In cases where one word dominates all others for a particular meaning-such as is typical of the words in the core lexicon of a language-word choice is guided by positive frequency-dependent selection-a bias that makes speakers disproportionately likely to use the words that most others use. This bias grants an increasing advantage to the common form as it becomes more popular and provides a mechanism to explain how a shared vocabulary can spontaneously self-organize and then be maintained for centuries or even millennia, despite new words continually entering the lexicon.en_NZ
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoenen_NZ
dc.relation.urihttps://www.pnas.org/content/116/15/7397.abstract
dc.rightsThis article is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. © 2019 PNAS.
dc.subjectapproximate Bayesian computationen_NZ
dc.subjectfrequency-dependent selectionen_NZ
dc.subjectlanguage evolutionen_NZ
dc.subjectneutral driften_NZ
dc.subjectshared vocabularyen_NZ
dc.subjectHumansen_NZ
dc.subjectModels, Theoreticalen_NZ
dc.subjectPhoneticsen_NZ
dc.titleDominant words rise to the top by positive frequency-dependent selection.en_NZ
dc.typeJournal Article
dc.identifier.doi10.1073/pnas.1816994116en_NZ
dc.relation.isPartOfProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of Americaen_NZ
pubs.begin-page7397
pubs.elements-id237035
pubs.end-page7402
pubs.issue15en_NZ
pubs.publication-statusPublisheden_NZ
pubs.volume116en_NZ
dc.identifier.eissn1091-6490en_NZ


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