• Department of Linguistics
    (2023): Sociolinguistic Typology Meets Historical Corpus Linguistics Transactions of the Philological Society. Wiley. 2023, 121(3), pp. 546-567. ISSN 0079-1636. eISSN 1467-968X. Available under: doi: 10.1111/1467-968x.12275

Sociolinguistic Typology Meets Historical Corpus Linguistics


This paper makes the case for using historical corpora to assess questions of sociolinguistic typology. A full account of any contact‐induced change will need to establish what the linguistic innovation in question was, who was in contact, where and when the contact took place and how the change happened, both at the individual level and at the population level. The historical corpus approach complements other methods by narrowing down the where and the when , allowing us to develop a clearer picture of how the change diffused. In support of our approach, we present three case studies of potential morphosyntactic simplification using quantitative evidence gleaned from historical corpora: the loss of number concord in the history of English, change in the null‐subject system(s) of Latin American Spanish and reduction of the case system in the history of Balkan Slavic. All three cases allow us to test theoretical predictions and uncover new influencing factors in a way that would be impossible without fine‐grained quantitative corpus research.

Origin (projects)

Funding sources
Name Finanzierungstyp Kategorie Project no.
ERC third-party funds research funding program 879/19
Further information
Period: 01.04.2020 – 31.03.2025