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Entropy 2009, 11(4), 1055-1072; doi:10.3390/e11041055
Article

Explaining Change in Language: A Cybersemiotic Perspective

Collaborative Master’s Program in Semiotics, Victoria College, University of Toronto, 101 Wymilwood Hall, 73 Queen’s Park Crescent, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7, Canada
Received: 14 October 2009 / Accepted: 2 December 2009 / Published: 11 December 2009
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Abstract

One of the greatest conundrums in semiotics and linguistics is explaining why change occurs in communication systems. The descriptive apparatus of how change occurs has been developed in great detail since at least the nineteenth century, but a viable explanatory framework of why it occurs in the first place still seems to be clouded in vagueness. So far, only the so-called Principle of Least Effort has come forward to provide a suggestive psychobiological framework for understanding change in communication codes such as language. Extensive work in using this model has shown many fascinating things about language structure and how it evolves. However, the many findings need an integrative framework for shedding light on any generalities implicit in them. This paper argues that a new approach to the study of codes, called cybersemiotics, can be used to great advantage for assessing theoretical frameworks and notions such as the Principle of Least Effort. Amalgamating cybernetic and biosemiotic notions, this new science provides analysts with valuable insights on the raison d’être of phenomena such as linguistic change.
Keywords: language change; Principle of Least Effort; Zipf’s Law; cybersemiotics; symbolization; communication effort; cybernetics; linguistic theory language change; Principle of Least Effort; Zipf’s Law; cybersemiotics; symbolization; communication effort; cybernetics; linguistic theory
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Danesi, M. Explaining Change in Language: A Cybersemiotic Perspective. Entropy 2009, 11, 1055-1072.

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