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Journal Article

Transmission biases in linguistic epidemiology


Enfield,  N. J.
Language and Cognition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Multimodal Interaction, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Enfield, N. J. (2008). Transmission biases in linguistic epidemiology. Journal of Language Contact, 2, 295-306.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-2016-C
To develop a nuanced account for selection within an epidemiological, population-based model of language contact and change, it is useful to consider possible conduits and filters on linguistic transmission and distribution. Richerson & Boyd (2005) describe a number of candidate biases in their evolutionary analysis of culture as a biological phenomenon (cf. Cavalli-Sforza & Feldman 1981, Sperber 1985, 1999, Boyd & Richerson 2005). This paper explores some of these biases with reference to language, exploring a set of analytic distinctions for a proper understanding of population-level linguistic processes. In putting forward these ideas, this paper echoes recent attempts to combine linguistic and biological concepts in the analysis of language diversity and change.