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Evolutionary processes in language and culture -

Correlated evolution of language structure

What constrains the variation of language? In this subproject we adopt modern computational methods to answer this question from a broad phylogenetic perspective.

Linguistic typology is currently struggling with the problem of making statistically valid statements about non-independent observations of typological variation. With only six or seven thousand languages in the world, many of them undocumented and all heavily skewed towards a few huge families, generalizations based on stratified samples will only ever be possible on a coarse scale. We use bioinformatic methods which model evolutionary processes to make statistically sensitive, probabilistic measurements of typological variation within a phylogenetic tree, enabling us to make statistical statements about typological stability, and to measure subtle typological interdependencies.

Last checked 2010-11-16 by Michael Dunn

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