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      Language change in a multiple group society



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          The processes leading to change in languages are manifold. In order to reduce ambiguity in the transmission of information, agreement on a set of conventions for recurring problems is favored. In addition to that, speakers tend to use particular linguistic variants associated with the social groups they identify with. The influence of other groups propagating across the speech community as new variant forms sustains the competition between linguistic variants. With the utterance selection model, an evolutionary description of language change, Baxter et al. [Phys. Rev. E 73, 046118 (2006)] have provided a mathematical formulation of the interactions inside a group of speakers, exploring the mechanisms that lead to or inhibit the fixation of linguistic variants. In this paper, we take the utterance selection model one step further by describing a speech community consisting of multiple interacting groups. Tuning the interaction strength between groups allows us to gain deeper understanding about the way in which linguistic variants propagate and how their distribution depends on the group partitioning. Both for the group size and the number of groups we find scaling behaviors with two asymptotic regimes. If groups are strongly connected, the dynamics is that of the standard utterance selection model, whereas if their coupling is weak, the magnitude of the latter along with the system size governs the way consensus is reached. Furthermore, we find that a high influence of the interlocutor on a speaker's utterances can act as a counterweight to group segregation.

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          LMU-ASC 053/13
          10 pages, 9 figures
          physics.soc-ph cs.SI

          Social & Information networks, General physics


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