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- Jacques Guy, "Greenberg" software available

Status: RO Well, yes, I thought that would catch your attention. Seriously, now. CHANCE is a Monte-Carlo simulation which lets you investigate the effects of chance resemblances between up to 40 unrelated languages each represented by up to 500 words or features (grammatical, phonological, or syntactic), and the effects allowing for semantic shifts when looking for resemblances. A complete discussion of the algorithm implemented in CHANCE, and of the estimations of probabilities of chance resemblances, and results of several thousand iterations mimicking the data presented by Greenberg and Ruhlen are due to be published in the first 1995 issue of Anthropos (March 1995) under the title "The Incidence of Chance Resemblances on Language Comparison". CHANCE is freely available in file chance01.zip in directory pc/linguistics of the anonymous ftp site garbo.uwasa.fi (University of Vaasa, Finland) Author: Jacques B.M. Guy Email address: j.guytrl.oz.au Surface address: Telecom Research Laboratories, PO Box 249 Clayton 3168 Australia Special requirement: nil Shareware payment from private users: no Shareware payment required from corporate users: no Distribution limitations: nil Size: 10k compressed, 18k expanded Long Description: In their article entitled "Linguistic Origins of Native Americans" (Scientific American, November 1992, pp.60-65) Joseph Greenberg and Merritt Ruhlen claim that resemblances they find between Amerindian languages and Indo-European, Semitic, and Dravidian languages stand infinitesimal chances of being to due to chance, and therefore must reflect a common origin, or borrowing. The mathematical formula for computing the probabilities of chance resemblances becomes intractable almost as soon as one attempts to allow for semantic shifts. Simulating accidental matches, however, is a simple task, even though it can be computationally expensive. But in these days when personal computers sell for a song and outperform the mainframes of my student days, this is of little consideration indeed. CHANCE lets you investigate the effects of chance resemblances between up to 40 unrelated languages each represented by a word list or feature list of up to 500 items, and the effects of allowing for semantic shifts. HOW TO RUN CHANCE Just type CHANCE at the DOS prompt. You will be asked four questions: How many languages? (min 2 max 40) How many words? (min 5 max 500) Accidental match: one chance in how many? (min 2 max 500) Size of semantic domains? (min 1 max 20) 1. How many languages: this is the number of unrelated languages that will be generated. 2. How many words: this is the size of the sample wordlist used for comparing those languages. This also covers the case where languages are classified not from wordlists, but from a handful of features (grammatical, syntactic, or phonological). In that case, give the number of features used. 3. Accidental match: this is your estimate of the chance of an accidental match. For instance, Greenberg and Ruhlen estimate the chance of an accidental match at 1 in 250 (this is an underestimate because they allow for metathesis, so that the actual chance is at least 1 in 125, and possibly up to 1 in 42). If you are investigating the chances of accidental match of features, the probability is generally much higher. For instance, there are only six possible Subject-Verb-Object orders (SVO, SOV, VSO, VOS, OSV, OVS) so that the minimum chance of an accidental match is 1 in 6. 4. Size of semantic domains: your answer controls whether you allow for semantic shifts, and if so, how wide. An answer of 2, for instance, means that semantic shifts covering up to 2 list items, but no more, are allowed. An answer of 1 means that no semantic shifts are allowed. Greenberg and Ruhlen, for instance, seem to have allowed for shifts over semantic domains covering 8 list items or more. Once you have answered all four questions the simulation will start. Its result are displayed continuously on screen, like this: 10 languages 200 words each One chance in 200 of accidental match Semantic Shifts Allowed. Domain Size: 6 Number of Reconstructions Attested by N Languages N: 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10+ Sum: 31291 2501 91 1 0 0 0 0 Current: 52 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 Mean: 58.8214 4.70113 0.17105 0.00188 0.00000 0.00000 0.00000 0.00000 Simulation #532 Press Esc to stop simulation, Space bar to pause. The top three lines of the screen recapitulate the paramaters you specified, here 10 languages represented by 200 words each with a 1 in 200 chance of accidental match. Next a line reminds you that you have allowed for semantic shifts covering up to six list items (word meanings). Next come the results of the simulation so far. "Sum" is the total number of cases encountered so far where exactly where the same word has been found in exactly 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 or more language. For instance in this simulation, 31291 cases of the same word in 3 languages have been observed so far, 2501 cases of the same word in 4 languages, 91 cases of the same word in 5 languages, one case in 6 languages, and none in 7 or more. The line below shows how many cases have been observed in the current simulation. Here 52 cases of the same word in 3 languages, 4 cases of the same word in 4 languages, none in 5 or more. The next line ("Mean") give the average number of cases; it is the total number ("Sum") divided by the number of simulations run so far. The line below tells you how many simulations have been run: here 532. The bottom line prompts you which commands you may use. Here you may either press the Esc key, and stop the simulation, or press the space bar to pause (if for instance, you want to write down intermediate results). Whichever you chose, the prompt line will change accordingly. If you stop the simulation (Esc) it will ask you if you want to run another simulation (with different paramaters). If you only pause it (space bar) it will tell you to press Esc to stop it, or any other key to continue it.Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue