Cultural Evolution of Language

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Language is culturally transmitted, and this cultural transmission leads to the possibility of cultural evolution â?? change over time in the linguistic system. This evolutionary process offers a unified account of both the origins of and the subsequent change in linguistic systems. Furthermore, an understanding of cultural evolution is required for the development of linguistic theories that achieve explanatory adequacy. This article outlines three mechanisms that drive the cultural evolution of linguistic systems: cultural transmission itself; functional modification and socially motivated transmission; and reproductive utility.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Language & Linguistics (Second Edition)
EditorsEditor-in-Chief:   Keith Brown
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-0-08-044854-1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Language Acquisition
  • Bottleneck
  • Explanatory Adequacy
  • Learning Bias
  • Language Change
  • Natural Selection
  • Cultural Transmission
  • Cultural Evolution


Dive into the research topics of 'Cultural Evolution of Language'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this