Søren Wichmann | Leiden University | University of Tübingen | Kazan Federal University
This paper presents properties of a computer simulation of language migration. It takes as input a simulated phylogeny and a database of today’s populated places. At each time step, a language moves within a geographical quadrilateral defined by the minimal number, ch, of choices of populated places within the quadrilateral. The result is a constrained random walk defined by a combination of the ch parameter and the landscape, which comes into play via the restriction of the walk to populated places. The distribution of move distances is qualitatively similar across values of ch and resembles a Gamma distribution. Through comparisons with densities of real-world language families, the values of ch which yield the closest fits between real and simulated data are found.
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