In this talk, I defend the broad claim that language adapts to the social setting of its use, and that both the dynamic and static aspects of classical sociolinguistic patterns can be elucidated if the competition between linguistic variants is modelled in terms of evolutionary game theory (EGT). To illustrate these general claims, I present an EGT model of sociolinguistic stratification in which competing linguistic variants – "different ways of saying the same thing" – carry a fitness which is determined socially through processes of ingroup convergence and outgroup divergence. I discuss how the model can be analysed – both analytically and numerically – and demonstrate that it predicts a classical pattern of stratification in adolescent language use. This suggests possibilities for further research of the game-theoretic flavour on both the level of populations and the level of individuals, as well as potential connections bridging the two levels.
Tobias Galla 971 25 98 77 Contact form