Neologisms are epidemic: Modeling the life cycle of neologisms in China 2008-2016

Menghan Jiang, Xiang Ying Shen, Kathleen Ahrens, Chu-ren Huang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper adopts models from epidemiology to account for the development and decline of neologisms based on internet usage. The research design focuses on the issue of whether a host-driven epidemic model is well-suited to explain human behavior regarding neologisms. We extracted the search frequency data from Google Trends that covers the ninety most influential Chinese neologisms from 2008-2016 and found that the majority of them possess a similar rapidly rising-decaying pattern. The epidemic model is utilized to fit the evolution of these internet-based neologisms. The epidemic model not only has good fitting performance to model the pattern of rapid growth, but also is able to predict the peak point in the neologism's life cycle. This result underlines the role of human agents in the life cycle of neologisms and supports the macro-Theory that the evolution of human languages mirrors the biological evolution of human beings. I.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0245984
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2 February
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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