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LINGUIST List 16.2215

Wed Jul 20 2005

Qs: Desiderata for a Database; Most Conservative Lang

Editor for this issue: Jessica Boynton <jessicalinguistlist.org>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate. In addition to posting a summary, we'd like to remind people that it is usually a good idea to personally thank those individuals who have taken the trouble to respond to the query. To post to LINGUIST, use our convenient web form at http://linguistlist.org/LL/posttolinguist.html.
        1.    Christina Jacovides, Desiderata for a Linguistic Database
        2.    Pete Unseth, Most Conservative Language

Message 1: Desiderata for a Linguistic Database
Date: 20-Jul-2005
From: Christina Jacovides <czljacovidesyahoo.com>
Subject: Desiderata for a Linguistic Database

The Computer Science Department at Wayne State University is working with
LINGUIST to create a linguistic database that would combine several web-based
language resources (sites containing language documentation in the form of
corpora, annotated texts, audio/visual information, etc.) into a single,
searchable, and browsable database. The hope is to organize the data in such a
way that the database can return intelligent results to a wide range of queries.
In order to make this database useful to linguists, though, the computer
scientists designing the database need to have a sense of what linguists might
require from such a database - what kinds of queries would they be making, what
types of questions are important?

They are interested in coming up with a broad list of sample questions. The list
should include questions that are similar to, but slightly more general than,
those published in the queries pages of the LINGUIST website.

I would be very grateful if you could take a few minutes to share any
suggestions you may have for possible questions, any websites you know of that
might be useful, any ideas you have that might help non-linguists understand a
little more about what exactly linguists are looking for in their research and
in language documentation.

Thanks very much,
Christina Jacovides
WSU (Technician)

Linguistic Field(s): Computational Linguistics
Message 2: Most Conservative Language
Date: 19-Jul-2005
From: Pete Unseth <Pete_Unsethgial.edu>
Subject: Most Conservative Language

A reporter recently asked me, "Which of today's languages is most like its
ancestor?" What he wanted to know is: speakers of which of today's languages
would be able to go back in time the farthest and be able to communicate verbally?

I suspect it is a language with a written heritage. Any speculation would be
welcome. If the replies warrant it, I will post a summary.

Pete Unseth

Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

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