This paper presents computational experiments that illustrate how one can precisely conceptualize language evolution as a Darwinian process. We show that there is potentially a wide diversity of replicating units and replication mechanisms involved in language evolution. Computational experiments allow us to study systemic properties coming out of populations of linguistic replicators: linguistic replicators can adapt to specific external environments; they evolve under the pressure of the cognitive constraints of their hosts, as well as under the functional pressure of communication for which they are used; one can observe neutral drift; coalitions of replicators may appear, forming higher level groups which can themselves become subject to competion and selection.