Modelling endangered languages: The effects of bilingualism and social structure

James W. Minett, William Shi Yuan Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


The mathematical model for language competition developed by Abrams and Strogatz allows the evolution of the numbers of monolingual speakers of two competing languages to be estimated. In this paper, we extend the model to examine the role of bilingualism and social structure, neither of which are addressed in the previous model. We consider the impact of two strategies for language maintenance: (1) adjusting the status of the endangered language; and (2) adjusting the availability of monolingual and bilingual educational resources. The model allows us to predict for which scenarios of intervention language maintenance is more likely to be achieved. Qualitative analysis of the model indicates a set of intervention strategies by which the likelihood of successful maintenance is expected to increase.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-45
Number of pages27
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Agent-based model
  • Dynamical system
  • Language competition
  • Language death
  • Language maintenance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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