For those of you more interested in listening rather than reading, then the journal Language Learning has a load of podcasts about language as a complex adaptive system. If you fancy some reading, here is the position paper by the Five Graces group. Below is the abstract:
Language has a fundamentally social function. Processes of human interaction along with domain-general cognitive processes shape the structure and knowledge of language. Recent research in the cognitive sciences has demonstrated that patterns of use strongly affect how language is acquired, used, and changes over time. These processes are not independent from one another but are facets of the same complex adaptive system (CAS). Language as a CAS involves the following key features: The system consists of multiple agents (the speakers in the speech community) interacting with one another. The system is adaptive, that is, speakers’ behavior is based on their past interactions, and current and past interactions together feed forward into future behavior. A speaker’s behavior is the consequence of competing factors ranging from perceptual constraints to social motivations. The structures of language emerge from interrelated patterns of experience, social interaction, and cognitive mechanisms. The CAS approach reveals commonalities in many areas of language research, including first and second language acquisition, historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, language evolution and computational modeling.