Publications

Quantifying the driving factors for language shift in a bilingual region

Author(s)
Katharina Prochazka, Gero Vogl
Abstract

Many of the world's around 6,000 languages are in danger of disappearing as people give up use of a minority language in favor of the majority language in a process called language shift. Language shift can be monitored on a large scale through the use of mathematical models by way of differential equations, for example, reaction-diffusion equations. Here, we use a different approach: we propose a model for language dynamics based on the principles of cellular automata/agent-based modeling and combine it with very detailed empirical data. Our model makes it possible to follow language dynamics over space and time, whereas existing models based on differential equations average over space and consequently provide no information on local changes in language use. Additionally, cellular automata models can be used even in cases where models based on differential equations are not applicable, for example, in situations where one language has become dispersed and retreated to language islands. Using data from a bilingual region in Austria, we show that the most important factor in determining the spread and retreat of a language is the interaction with speakers of the same language. External factors like bilingual schools or parish language have only a minor influence.

Organisation(s)
Dynamics of Condensed Systems
Journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
Volume
114
Pages
4365-4369
No. of pages
5
ISSN
0027-8424
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1617252114
Publication date
04-2017
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
103019 Mathematical physics, 602004 General linguistics
Keywords
Portal url
https://ucris.univie.ac.at/portal/en/publications/quantifying-the-driving-factors-for-language-shift-in-a-bilingual-region(af104dea-5564-4bc0-ae0b-12afb5973ecb).html