A group of linguists and evolutionary biologists from the Australia National University conducted a study which demonstrated that languages evolve at different speeds, depending on the size of the population that speaks them. They compared 20 different Polynesian languages, which shared a common ancestor, considered to be “sister languages”. The researchers decided to compare the languages with different population sizes and observe if there were any differences in the vocabulary. The results demonstrated that languages with larger populations gained new vocabulary faster than the languages with a smaller population size. More often the languages with a smaller population tended to lose vocabulary faster than those in a larger population, which is similar to the biological evolution. The researchers believe that they still need to continue looking at other languages in order to confirm these results, and assume that the general feature of language evolution.
Original Article: http://www.popsci.com/languages-may-evolve-based-size-population-speaks-them