The Atlantic

A Language's Popularity Could Influence Its Grammar and Vocabulary

The number of people who speak a language seems to affect how new words and structures spread.
Source: Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters

It’s a peculiar observation that the more people speak a language, the simpler its grammar tends to be. English and Mandarin, for instance, have notably straightforward structures. On the other hand, languages spoken in just a single mountain valley or village can have gorgeously intricate grammars, full of gender and cases and declensions. They also tend to have rather small vocabularies. Meanwhile, the vocabularies of widely

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