Investigating the potential of ancestral state reconstruction algorithms in historical linguistics

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Dokumentart: ConferencePaper
Date: 2016-03-02
Language: English
Faculty: 5 Philosophische Fakultät
5 Philosophische Fakultät
Department: Allgemeine u. vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft
DDC Classifikation: 400 - Language and Linguistics
Keywords: Historische Sprachwissenschaft , Sprachstatistik
Other Keywords:
historical linguistics
ancestral state reconstruction
phylogenetic linguistics
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Current efforts in computational historical linguistics are predominantly concerned with phylogenetic inference. However, methods for ancestral state reconstruction have been only sporadically applied. This is surprising since reconstruction is considered essential both in evolutionary biology and in classical historical linguistics. In contradistinction to phylogenetic algorithms, automatic reconstruction methods presuppose phylogenetic information in order to explain what has evolved when and where. Here we report a pilot study on the potential of reconstruction algorithms in historical linguistics. Based on an explicit family tree, we apply different algorithms to wordlist data in order to infer how the words evolved along the phylogeny, and which words were used without change of meaning in the ancestral languages.

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