LINGUIST List 31.2245

Fri Jul 10 2020

Calls: Comp Ling, Hist Ling, Lang Doc/Germany

Editor for this issue: Lauren Perkins <>

Date: 10-Jul-2020
From: Gerhard Jaeger <>
Subject: Model and Evidence in Quantitative Comparative Linguistics
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Full Title: Model and Evidence in Quantitative Comparative Linguistics
Short Title: MaEiQCL

Date: 24-Feb-2021 - 26-Feb-2021
Location: Freiburg, Germany
Contact Person: Gerhard Jaeger
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): Computational Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Language Documentation

Call Deadline: 31-Aug-2020

Meeting Description:

Workshop organizers: Gerhard Jäger (Tübingen), Johann-Mattis List (Jena)

Small workshop as part of the DGfS Annual Meeting

The emergence of data science has inspired a surge in interest in the application of quantitative and computational methods in comparative linguistics in the broad sense. By this we mean any kind of research studying features of several natural languages in parallel. High profile results touch upon three major topics:

- the study of deep history, both regarding reconstruction of past language stages and language change processes and of population history in general,
- statistical investigations of typological questions regarding, e.g., the (non-)universality of feature correlations,
- probing for - possibly causal - connections between linguistic properties and extra-linguistic variables such as language community size, climate, or diet.

These results are often met with a healthy skepticism within the linguistic community. It is tempting to discount the criticisms leveled against quantitative comparative linguistics — such as the insistence by practitioners of classical historical linguistics that historical linguistics must be based on the identification of sound laws — as inevitable side effects of a paradigm shift. However, computational and statistically minded comparativists do not agree among themselves regarding the standards of data quality, model validation, and model comparison. For instance, the debate in a recent issue of Theoretical Linguistics revealed that there is no consensus about some very profound issues pertaining the the nature and purpose of statistical models in computational historical linguistics. The open peer reviews on Dunn et al. (2011, Nature) in Linguistic Typology 15(2), 2011 revealed a similar demand for debate in typology which has not been conclusively settled so far.

The purpose of the workshop is to provide a forum for this methodological discussion. It will focus on:
- approaches to model validation and model comparison in statistical work on comparative linguistics,
- standards for data formats, data accessibility, and data sharing, and
- best practices for code sharing and code accessibility within an open science framework.

Travel grants: Please note that a limited number of travel grants will be available upon request.

Call for Papers:

We invite submissions for 20-minute oral presentations (+ 10 minutes discussion) in English. We are equally interested in contributions relating to data management and to data modeling. Abstracts should be anonymously submitted to

Abstracts should be at most one page long, plus references on the second page, on A4 paper with 2.5cm margins on all sides, and must be set in Times New Roman font of at least 11 points. The deadline for submission is 31 August 2020; notification date is 15 September 2020.

Page Updated: 10-Jul-2020