Title: Modeling Language Competition Speaker: Dr. James W. Minett, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Electronic Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong Tue, May 8, 2007 MB104, HKU Time: 4:30 p.m. Venue Abstract The world’s languages are becoming extinct at an unprecedented rate. At least half of the languages now spoken are not expected to survive the 21 st century (Krauss 1992; Crystal 2000). Which languages will survive, and which will die? I will discuss this issue from the perspective of computational modeling, an approach that has become more prominent following the work of Abrams & Strogatz (2003). Their work, however, is severely deficient in terms of its linguistic content, ignoring the impact on the competition of both bilingual speakers and modes of transmission (vertical and horizontal). Furthermore, their method provides no means to investigate the effect of language contact or population structure, which are known to significantly influence competition as well as trigger the emergence of new languages (Mufwene 2004). In my own work, I aim to resolve all of these deficiencies. I represent a community that is undergoing language competition by a population of computational ‘agents’, each of which models the interactions of a single speaker with the other speakers that make up the community (Minett & Wang, 2007). By adjusting the population structure by which the speakers interact with each other, this approach can help us to better understand the likely course of evolution of a broad class of scenarios of language competition and contact. Tuning the model so that its behavior mimics that which we observe in the field (for example, in the competition between She and Hakka in Eastern Guangdong), I aim to develop sets of practical steps by which the revitalization of endangered languages can be attempted.