LOT Winter School 2018

From Lab to the World: Linking empirical typology to language evolution

Michael Dunn



From Lab to the World: Linking empirical typology to language evolution

This course provides a practical introduction to quantitative linguistic typology with a focus on variation, both synchronic and diachronic. From the synchronic perspective we will examine ways to elicit ecologically valid typological information from language speakers and extract it from natural texts. From the diachronic perspective we will use phylogenetic methods to examine the processes generating this typological diversity we observe in the world. Practical techniques will be illustrated using data from different levels of language from phonology to semantics. As a student you will be guided through some standard analyses (tools and data provided), and an opportunity will be offered to bring your own data/problems.

Day-to-day program

Monday: What is a possible language and how can we know?

Tuesday: Language variation in social and geographic environment

Wednesday: Evolving variation

Thursday: Galton, we have a problem

Friday: Itegration

Reading list

Readings and supplementary material will be available from the course webpage, http://evoling.net/LOT-Winterschool-2018/

Course readings

Lecture 1: What is a possible language and how can we know?

Evans, Nicholas. 2016. “Typology and Coevolutionary Linguistics.” Linguistic Typology 20 (3). https://doi.org/10.1515/lingty-2016-0023.

Ladd, D. Robert, Seán G. Roberts, and Dan Dediu. 2015. “Correlational Studies in Typological and Historical Linguistics.” Annual Review of Linguistics 1 (1):221–241. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-linguist-030514-124819.

Lecture 2: Language variation in social and geographic environment

Gavin, Michael C., Carlos A. Botero, Claire Bowern, Robert K. Colwell, Michael Dunn, Robert R. Dunn, Russell D. Gray, et al. 2013. “Toward a Mechanistic Understanding of Linguistic Diversity.” BioScience 63 (7):524–35. https://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2013.63.7.6.

Lupyan, Gary, and Rick Dale. 2010. “Language Structure Is Partly Determined by Social Structure.” PLoS ONE 5 (1):e8559. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0008559.

Lecture 3: Evolving variation

Dunn, Michael. 2015. “Language Phylogenies.” In The Routledge Handbook of Historical Linguistics, edited by Claire Bowern and Bethwyn Evans, 190–211. Routledge. http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/pubman/item/escidoc:1851319:7/component/escidoc:1851318/dunn-phylogenetic-approaches.pdf (preprint).

Dunn, Michael, Tonya Kim Dewey, Carlee Arnett, Thórhallur Eythórsson, and Jóhanna Barðdal. 2017. “Dative Sickness: A Phylogenetic Analysis of Argument Structure Evolution in Germanic.” Language 93 (1):e1–22. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2017.0012.

Lecture 4: Galton, we have a problem

Dunn, Michael, Simon J. Greenhill, Stephen C. Levinson, and Russell D. Gray. 2011. “Evolved Structure of Language Shows Lineage-Specific Trends in Word-Order Universals.” Nature 473 (April):79–82. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature09923.

Blasi, Damián E., Søren Wichmann, Harald Hammarström, Peter F. Stadler, and Morten H. Christiansen. 2016. “Sound–meaning Association Biases Evidenced across Thousands of Languages.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September, 201605782. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1605782113.

Lecture 5: Integration

Greenhill, Simon J., Chieh-Hsi Wu, Xia Hua, Michael Dunn, Stephen C. Levinson, and Russell D. Gray. 2017. “Evolutionary Dynamics of Language Systems.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October, 201700388. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1700388114.

Majid, Asifa, Fiona Jordan, and Michael Dunn. 2015. “Semantic Systems in Closely Related Languages.” Language Sciences, Semantic systems in closely related languages, 49 (May):1–18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2014.11.002.

Food for thought

Maddison, Wayne P., and Richard G. FitzJohn. 2015. “The Unsolved Challenge to Phylogenetic Correlation Tests for Categorical Characters.” Systematic Biology 64 (1):127–36. https://doi.org/10.1093/sysbio/syu070.

Powell, Russell, and Carlos Mariscal. 2015. “Convergent Evolution as Natural Experiment: The Tape of Life Reconsidered.” Interface Focus 5 (6):20150040. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsfs.2015.0040.