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The evolution of complex grammars

A new study shows that changes in grammatical complexity are not shaped by social environments

Many linguists have proposed that languages spoken by numerous non-native speakers tend to have simpler grammars. A new study led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig challenges this claim. By analysing a global sample of 1,314 languages, they found that speech community size and the proportion of second-language speakers were not associated with simpler grammars.

© Olena Shcherbakova et al., Science Advances (2023)