What Makes Something A ‘New’ Language?

What Makes Something A ‘New’ Language?

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For linguists, Light Warlpiri provides a unique opportunity to study the creation of a new language — one that doesn’t fit the usual linguistic categories of “dialect,” “pidgin” or “creole.”

But more generally, the recognition of a new language is a good reminder that language is a constantly evolving cultural creation. Like biological species, languages change over time and sometimes diverge, resulting in the formation of new dialects or even new languages. And as in biology, where the question of what constitutes a “new” or different species can be somewhat vexed, we might ask: what makes something a “new” or different language? How much change is enough change for something to be a new language and not a minor variant on the original?

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