Scientific analysis of language usage in literature over the last 200 years suggests that words are competing – and now losing – in a battle to survive.

This article titled “Study reveals words' Darwinian struggle for survival” was written by Alison Flood, for on Wednesday 21st March 2012 16.39 UTC

Words are competing daily in an almost Darwinian struggle for survival, according to new research from scientists in which they analysed more than 10 million words used over the last 200 years.

Drawing their material from Google's huge book-digitisation project, the international team of academics tracked the usage of every word recorded in English, Spanish and Hebrew over the 209-year period between 1800 and 2008. The scientists, who include Boston University's Joel Tenenbaum and IMT Lucca Institute for Advanced Studies' Alexander Petersen, said their study shows that “words are competing actors in a system of finite resources,” and just as financial firms battle for market share, so words compete to be used by writers or speakers, and to then grab the attention of readers or listeners.

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