Blog Archives

Five Shortcuts to Writing a Heavyweight Etymological Dictionary

Minor apologies for the clickbait-satire title (I do not actually enumerate any shortcuts in this post), but the arriving summer is making me jocular I guess. :) My current stop on what seems to be turning into an unofficial world

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Posted in Commentary, Methodology

Geography-constrained family trees?

A complaint that often comes up in introductions to studies on computational phylogenetics is that the number of possible binary trees grows quite fast (loosely factorialesquely) as a function of the number of entities we are attempting to relate. This

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Posted in Methodology

Linkday #1: On computational phylogenetics

I think I’d like to have more content up on this site, despite being tied up with studies and life’s other little distractions from research. Showcasing some interesting articles might work for that, even when I don’t have detailed critique

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Posted in Links, Methodology

Some things rotten in the history of Tungusic

On a whim, I’ve started to investigate the lexicon of Proto-Tungusic, which the Moscow school of Nostraticists maintain a handy database of (as they do for pretty much all Eurasian language families). I am currently about 10% in, having looked

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Posted in Commentary, Methodology

On the epistemology of sound change, part 1

Continuing from the last post, and toning the meta-ness of the discussion down just a little… What does it, at the level of everyday research, mean for me to request “justification on the basis of more elementary phenomena” for the

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Posted in Methodology

The rooting of historical linguistics

Most of the harder problems in the methodology of historical linguistics seem to come from it being a fairly “high-order” discipline, and a relatively isolated one at that. To an extent, this true of all humanities. With the levels of

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Posted in Methodology

Consonant clusters in Khanty

My previous example of phonotactic combination analysis was on data that was, despite a few kinks, still largely homogenous. But to showcase how it’s important to have a decent basic hypothesis before going into more fine-grained analysis, here’s a look

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Posted in Methodology

Phonotactics vs. protolanguages

Phonotactic analysis is probably one of the most straightforward tools for statistical etymology. There are others too — but this is an analysis method that will easily bring up a wealth of data that has no real synchronic motivation (arbitraryness

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Posted in Methodology

Statistical etymology: A Votic example

I have last Friday picked up a dictionary of the Mahu dialect of Eastern Votic (Castreanianumin toimitteita 27, 1986), based on Lauri Kettunen’s collections from about a hundred years ago. [1] This is not a particularly huge book, with only

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Posted in Methodology

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