Language Spread and Language-Group Interaction using System Dynamics

In a world with more than 4000 languages and less than 200 nations, the concept of a unilingual country is no more than a legal fiction. The reality within any nation is the interaction of linguistic majorities with either autochthonous or immigrant linguistic minorities. This interaction is typically mediated by the growth of bilingualism within the minority only, a possible prelude to the abandonment and extinction of the minority language.

In an effort to understand and predict the outcomes of language group interaction, the University is investigating a series of system dynamic (SD) and cellular automaton (CA) computer models designed to forecast the relative growth of monolingual and bilingual language groups. The initial impetus for the development of these models has naturally been to quantify the current and likely future circumstances of the Welsh language, a major local concern. However, the applicability of the models is considerably wider, and language-group evolution has also been successfully modelled for modern Canada and Quebec.

The specific models are:


  • High-aggregate inter-group natural interaction without conscious intervention (SD)
  • Low-aggregate inter-group natural interaction without conscious intervention (SD)
  • Low-aggregate inter-group interaction with Language Planning (SD)
  • Intra-group evolution and diglossia (CA)
  • Super-group contextualisation of interaction in political, economic and sociological terms (SD)

The validity regions of the QSSA change over time and depend upon nonlocal substrate input

For more information, please contact John Wyburn.