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Conference Information

Full Title: Quantitative Linguistic Typology: State-of-the-Art and Beyond

Location: Leipzig, Germany
Start Date: 15-Aug-2013 - 18-Aug-2013
Contact: Harald Hammarström
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: There is increasing awareness that the only strict yes/no language universals to be found in the languages of the world are trivial (Evans & Levinson 2009) and that most of the interesting variation comes in the form of tendencies and patterns. While not everything in language can be weighted and measured, many aspects do lend themselves to a quantitative analysis.

Coupled with the recent explosion of data in digital form (a trend punctuated by the appearance of WALS), the field of Linguistic Typology is now fully equipped - and perhaps required - to address its fundamental questions quantitatively.

The proposed theme session aims to cover quantitative approaches to linguistic typology ranging from the use of basic statistical techniques (such as regression analysis, or constructing a stratified typological sample, Cysouw 2005) to full-fledged models for explaining diversity and similarity of the languages of the world:

- Methods and models for discovering and measuring dependencies between structural features of languages
- Methods and models for separating the effects of genealogy, areality, universal tendencies and randomness in the make-up of languages
- Methods and models for hypothesis testing in linguistic typology
- Methods and models for studying the interaction of linguistic and non-linguistic features
- Empirical results of contrasting different (quantitative or non-quantitative) approaches to typology

In particular, the proposed theme session aims to offer the typological community a state-of-the-art snapshot (by the convenors) of what quantitative methods can (and cannot) do, as well as presentations (by external submissions) advancing the state of knowledge in the field.


Cysouw, Michael (2005). Quantitative methods in typology. In Altmann, G., Köhler, R., and Piotrowski, R., editors, Quantitative Linguistik: ein internationales Handbuch, pages 554–578. Mouton de Gruyter.

Evans, Nick and Levinson, Stephen (2009). The myth of language universals: Language diversity and its importance for cognitive science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32(5):429–492.
Linguistic Subfield: Typology
LL Issue: 24.103

This is a session of the following meeting:
Association for Linguistic Typology Biennial Conference

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