Piotrowski-Altmann law: State of the art

Stachowski K.

Glottotheory, vol.11, no.1, 2020 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 11 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1515/glot-2020-2002
  • Journal Name: Glottotheory
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus
  • Keywords: Change in language, Diffusion of innovation, Piotrowski-Altmann law, Statistical law, Statistical model
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: No


The term Piotrowski-Altmann law refers to a wide range of linguistic phenomena which proceed in the “slow-fast-slow” fashion, i.e. drawing a sigmoid on a graph. They include the replacement of an old morphological form with a new one, lexical borrowing between languages, the growth of a child’s vocabulary, and many others. The paper briefly discusses the history of the law, its current variants and their applications, and lastly science theoretical problems connected with it. It concludes that our law is in fact a group of psycho- and sociological models, whose application to linguistics requires further deliberation.