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Statistical Laws Governing Fluctuations in Word Use from Word Birth to Word Death

Petersen, Alexander M. and Tenenbaum, Joel and Havlin, Shlomo and Stanley, H. Eugene Statistical Laws Governing Fluctuations in Word Use from Word Birth to Word Death. Working Paper (Submitted)

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How often a given word is used, relative to other words, can convey information about the word’s linguistic utility. Using Google word data for 3 languages over the 209-year period 1800–2008, we found by analyzing word use an anomalous recent change in the birth and death rates of words, which indicates a shift towards increased levels of competition between words as a result of new standardization technology. We demonstrate unexpected analogies between the growth dynamics of word use and the growth dynamics of economic institutions. Our results support the intriguing concept that a language’s lexicon is a generic arena for competition which evolves according to selection laws that are related to social, technological, and political trends. Specifically, the aggregate properties of language show pronounced differences during periods of world conflict, e.g. World War II.

Item Type: Working Paper (Working Paper)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Q Science > QC Physics
Research Area: Computer Science and Applications
Economics and Institutional Change
Depositing User: Alexander Petersen
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2012 09:33
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2012 09:33
URI: http://eprints.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/1054

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