I know this question sounds vague, and there may not be much evidence yet, but I suspect it is falsifiable. The question is, in the modern era (post European imperialism, in particular post-mass-media and post-Internet), are the languages of the world converging? For example, many new words that are being generated (like computer, in the sense of computing machine, and telephone) are cognates/loanwords in many languages, even unrelated ones. For these recent concepts, words may be "the same" not just between Germanic, Romance, or Indo-European languages, but even in East Asian languages like Korean and Japanese, and other entirely unrelated languages, due to the rapidity in the spread of ideas and culture from one nation to another. I imagine this is also happening with a lot of slang and idioms not directly related to modern technology, especially loanwords from American English to other languages. However, there may still be substantial divergent forces (new words being generated locally and not spreading outside the language of origination, words changing meaning over time so that they are no longer cognates), and it is theoretically possible that these outweigh the convergent forces. So is there any evidence that overall, languages are converging today, by measures like lexical similarity?

  • I don't think that the question is unreasonable: Language contact leads often to a Sprachbund, and in modern times there is more of language contact than ever. But I doubt that there is already an answer or that there are studies available on this phenomenon—it is too new to leave definite traces in the languages of the world. Dec 21, 2017 at 10:19


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