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LINGUIST List 22.4115

Fri Oct 21 2011

Calls: Historical Linguistics/Sweden

Editor for this issue: Alison Zaharee <alisonlinguistlist.org>

New! Multi-tree Visit LL's Multitree project for over 1000 trees dynamically generated from scholarly hypotheses about language relationships:

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        1.     Michael Dunn , Beyond Phylogeny: Quantitative Diachronic Explanations of Language Diversity

Message 1: Beyond Phylogeny: Quantitative Diachronic Explanations of Language Diversity
Date: 20-Oct-2011
From: Michael Dunn <michael.dunnmpi.nl>
Subject: Beyond Phylogeny: Quantitative Diachronic Explanations of Language Diversity
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Full Title: Beyond Phylogeny: Quantitative Diachronic Explanations of Language Diversity

Date: 29-Aug-2012 - 01-Sep-2012
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Contact Person: Michael Dunn
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Call Deadline: 11-Nov-2011

Meeting Description:

Beyond Phylogeny: Quantitative Diachronic Explanations of Language Diversity
Workshop at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (http://www.sle2012.eu), Stockholm, 29 August-1 September 2012

Recent advances in the quantitative study of language history have put diachronic approaches to the centre of modern linguistics. This workshop is intended for scholars who are interested in using hypothesis-driven, quantitative methods to understand the diversity of language in its real, historically (including geographically and socially) contingent context. We envisage that the participants in this workshop will be moving 'Beyond Phylogeny' in three different ways:

(1) New kinds of phylogenetic hypotheses. Quantitative methods provide new ways of proposing and testing hypotheses about the relationships between languages. This can involve testing historical scenarios, chronological inference, linking language history to the archaeological or genetic record, and analysis of lateral transfer (Nelson-Sathi et al. 2011).

(2) New interdisciplinary syntheses. Modern quantitative methods allow new insights in the relationship between language history and other aspects of human history, such as demography or social structure (e.g. Bowern et al. 2011); language change can be modelled explicitly, inferences can be made about the geography of linguistic diversity (Walker and Ribeiro 2011).

(3) New analyses of language change. Language phylogenies can be used to model the diachronic processes acting in other domains, such as structural evolution (Dunn et al. 2011) and kinship/social organisation (Jordan 2011).

As befits a developing area in the discipline of linguistics, there is considerable disagreement over the question of what quantitative phylogenetic methods can do, as well as what directions should be pursued (see Donohue et al. 2011). Nevertheless the broad goals of our research are shared. We hope that this workshop will attract a diverse range of participants reflecting these different perspectives, and that a robust and productive discussion will ensue. Submissions taking critical perspectives on quantitative historical approaches will also be welcomed.


Bowern, Claire, Patience Epps, Russell Gray, Jane Hill, Keith Hunley, Patrick McConvell, and Jason Zentz. 2011. Does Lateral Transmission Obscure Inheritance in Hunter-Gatherer Languages? PLoS ONE 6: e25195.

Donohue, Mark, Simon Musgrave, Bronwen Whiting, and Søren Wichmann. 2011. Typological feature analysis models linguistic geography. Language 87: 369-383.

Dunn, Michael, Simon J. Greenhill, Stephen C. Levinson, and Russell D. Gray. 2011. Evolved structure of language shows lineage-specific trends in word-order universals. Nature 473: 79-82.

Jordan, Fiona M. 2011. A Phylogenetic Analysis of the Evolution of Austronesian Sibling Terminologies. Human Biology 83: 297-321.

Nelson-Sathi, Shijulal, Johann-Mattis List, Hans Geisler, Heiner Fangerau, Russell D. Gray, William Martin, and Tal Dagan. 2011. Networks uncover hidden lexical borrowing in Indo-European language evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278: 1794-1803.

Walker, Robert S., and Lincoln A. Ribeiro. 2011. Bayesian phylogeography of the Arawak expansion in lowland South America. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278: 2562-2567.

Call for Papers:

If you would like to participate in this workshop, please indicate your interest by email to Michael Dunn at michael.dunnmpi.nl as soon as possible.

A short (300 word) abstract from each participant will be required as part of the workshop proposal (please send abstracts to Michael Dunn by 11 November 2011).

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