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Linguistic diversity and complexity

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Keywords: Language Complexity; Linguistic Diversity; Language Contact; Language Typology; Sociolinguistics.

This paper provides an overview of the research done on language complexity, focusing on aspects of complexity that bear relevance to the topic of linguistic diversity. Different approaches to and possible definitions of complexity are first discussed. The diversity and variation that languages show in structural complexity is then addressed, and the equicomplexity hypothesis predicting that all languages are equally complex is critically evaluated with respect to attempts to measure global complexity empirically. The effects of diverse sociolinguistic factors on complexity is an active field of enquiry and a review of this discussion is provided. The relationship between culture and complexity is touched upon and, finally, complexity is discussed from the point of view of areal and genealogical diversity.

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