From phonology to phylogeny

Toward event-based modeling in historical linguistics


Linguistic phylogenies are typically inferred on the basis of lexical cognate relationships (e.g.,Bouckaert et al. 2012, Chang et al. 2015, Sagart et al. 2019). Despite the predominance of thispractice, it suffers from well-known drawbacks. First, it disregards the phylogenetic signal thatexists in the form of the words themselves. Second, it limits the modeling possibilities sinceit relies on an arbitrary coding of the data. In this talk, I introduce a novel framework forlinguistic phylogenetics that overcomes both of these shortcomings. The heart of this frameworkis the TKF91 model (Thorne et al. 1991), which allows phylogenetic inference to be carried outdirectly from word-forms. This model not only opens up a new horizon in the study of linguisticphylogenetics, but allows historical linguists to investigate questions of sound change that werepreviously out of reach.

May 25, 2023 1:00 PM — 2:00 PM