Language structure is influenced by the proportion of non-native speakers : A reply to Koplenig (2019)

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Journal of Language Evolution. Oxford University Press (OUP). 2023, 8(1), pp. 90-101. ISSN 2058-4571. eISSN 2058-458X. Available under: doi: 10.1093/jole/lzad005
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A recent quantitative study claims language structure, whether quantified as morphological or information-theoretic complexity, to be unaffected by the proportion of those speaking the language non-natively [A. Koplenig, Royal Society Open Science, 6, 181274 (2019)]. This result hinges on either the use of a categorical notion of ‘vehicularity’ as a proxy for the proportion of L2 (second-language) speakers, or the imputation of an assumed zero proportion of L2 speakers for languages that are considered non-vehicular but for which no direct estimate of that proportion exists. We provide two alternative analyses of the same data. The first reanalysis treats uncertain non-vehicular languages as missing data points; the second one employs multiple imputation to fill in the missing data. Mixed effects models find a statistically significant negative relationship between proportion of L2 speakers and morphological complexity: in both reanalyses, a higher proportion of L2 speakers predicts lower morphological complexity. We find no statistically significant evidence for a relationship between proportion of L2 speakers and information-theoretic complexity, however.

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ISO 690KAUHANEN, Henri, Sarah EINHAUS, George WALKDEN, 2023. Language structure is influenced by the proportion of non-native speakers : A reply to Koplenig (2019). In: Journal of Language Evolution. Oxford University Press (OUP). 2023, 8(1), pp. 90-101. ISSN 2058-4571. eISSN 2058-458X. Available under: doi: 10.1093/jole/lzad005
BibTex
@article{Kauhanen2023-04-20Langu-67076,
  year={2023},
  doi={10.1093/jole/lzad005},
  title={Language structure is influenced by the proportion of non-native speakers : A reply to Koplenig (2019)},
  number={1},
  volume={8},
  issn={2058-4571},
  journal={Journal of Language Evolution},
  pages={90--101},
  author={Kauhanen, Henri and Einhaus, Sarah and Walkden, George}
}
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