Modeling Transient States in Language Change

Research output: Chapter in book/volumeContribution to conference proceedingsScientificpeer-review

119 Downloads (Pure)


Models of language change may include, apart from an initial state and a terminal state, an intermediate transient state T. Building further on they Failed Change Model (Postma 2010) that ties the dynamics of the transient state T to the dynamics of the overall change A → B, we present an generalized algebraic model that includes both the failed change 0 → T → 0 and the successful change A → B. As a preparatory step, we generalize the algebraic function (logist) of two-state change A → B to a differential equation (DE) which represents the law that rules the change. This DE has a bundle of time shifted logistic curves as its solution. This is derives Kroch's Constant Rate Hypothesis. By modifying this DE, it is possible to describe the dynamics of the entire A → T→ B process, i.e. we have a model that includes both the successful and the failed change. The algebraic link between failed change and successful change (the former is the first derivative of the latter) turns out to be an approximation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Micro-change to Macro-change
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of DIGS 15
EditorsRobert Truswell, Eric Mattieu
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2015


  • language change
  • failed changes
  • quantitative linguistics
  • constant-rate hypothesis
  • diachronic syntax


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling Transient States in Language Change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this