Links to the websites of other research groups working in the same field as Languages and Origins in Europe.
Which Research Groups are Covered on This Page? Who Does What?
This page does not claim to be exhaustive, but aspires only to be a basic resource to recent work in the same field as Languages and Origins in Europe, i.e. applying phylogenetic methods to language data, particularly to the languages of Europe. As such, this page covers four main strands of research, which can be distinguished from and interrelated with each other as follows.
• Research within linguistics to develop techniques for analysing language data in order to convert it into some form of encoding or quantification suitable as input to phylogenetic analysis, such as Paul Heggarty’s work within April McMahon’s research group.
• Research within linguistics to develop phylogenetic analysis methods specifically for language, such as the ‘perfect phylogeny’ analysis developed by Don Ringe’s research group.
• Research outside linguistics to develop phylogenetic analysis methods in the biological sciences, which have also been applied to language data, such as the NeighborNet method developed by Bryant & Moulton, and Network developed by Bandelt, Forster et al..
• Research by both linguists and non-linguists to apply these and other phylogenetic analysis methods specifically to language data, such as work by Russell Gray’s research group, Forster et al.’s own applications of their Network programme to language data, and work by April and Rob McMahon within their research group.
In each case, we identify the groups by the name of who we understand to be the principal instigator(s) of their research, though we do this only for practicality. All of these research groups are collaborative enterprises involving a number of researchers, in some cases from different disciplines within the ‘new synthesis’.
Don Ringe’s Research Group
Don Ringe’s research group on Computational Phylogenetics in Historical Linguistics, whose researchers include Tandy Warnow, Ann Taylor, Luay Nakhleh and Steven N. Evans, based in a number of universities in the USA. This research group brings together specialists from departments of linguistics, computer science and statistics, and has worked on developing phylogenetic methods applied so far especially to Indo-European. One of their main publications is Ringe, Warnow & Taylor (2002) Indo-European and computational cladistics, which is freely available from their project website, as are their datasets and many more of their articles.
April McMahon’s Research Group
April McMahon’s linguistics/genetics research group includes Robert McMahon, Paul Heggarty, Warren Maguire and Natalia Slaska, based in the UK in English Language and Linguistics initially at the University of Sheffield, and now at Edinburgh.
• Their first project Quantitative Methods in Language Classification looked at the broad level of relationships within and between language families in Europe, and between the Quechua and Aymara families in the Central Andes.
• Their current project Sound Comparisons: Dialect and Language Comparison and Classification by Phonetic Similarity focuses on the level of accents and dialects, particularly within English but also with other Germanic languages and within the Quechua and Aymara families.
For more details, click on the links above for their project websites. A valuable overview of the whole field, including analyses of the research by the other groups mentioned on this page, is also available in McMahon & McMahon’s (2005) book Language Classification by Numbers.
Russell Gray’s Research Group
Russell Gray is based in Evolutionary Psychology within the Psychology Department at the University of Auckland, and has applied phylogenetic analysis techniques to both the Austronesian languages, with F.M. Jordan, and more recently to Indo-European, with Quentin D. Atkinson in their controversial Nature paper Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin, i.e. Gray & Atkinson (2003). For the latter, they took the lexicostatistical data of Dyen, Kruskal & Black (1992), though of course they used them in an entirely different way to traditional lexicostatistics and glottochronology. This article is available for download from Gray’s webpage on their research into Phylogenetic Analyses of Linguistic Evolution, as are a number of other postings and a forthcoming article defending their thesis against criticisms from some linguists. For a summary of the main points that linguists have raised, meanwhile, see this web log article by Bill Poser. It is worth noting that linguists have not been entirely critical, and some have seen the article as a valuable methodological wake-up call to their discipline.
The NeighborNet Phylogenetic Analysis Programme: Bryant et al.
David Bryant from the McGill Centre for Bioinformatics in Montreal worked with Vincent Moulton to devise the phylogenetic analysis technique which they have called NeighborNet. As its name suggests, this is a phylogenetic method of a type that produces representations not only in the form of discretely branching trees but also, where the signal is consistent with this, more complex networks or webs of relationships (a characteristic it shares with the quite different Network programme). This technique has been applied to language data by April McMahon’s research group, for instance. NeighborNet is freely available for download within the SplitsTree4 package, produced by Daniel Huson and David Bryant at the Algorithms in Bioinformatics research group at the University of Tübingen. For more details see David Bryant’s publications webpage where most of his articles can be downloaded. See for example Bryant & Moulton (2002), NeighborNet: an agglomerative method for the construction of planar phylogenetic networks.
The Network Phylogenetic Analysis Programme: Forster et al.
Peter Forster, Hans-Jürgen Bandelt, Arne Röhl and others developed (at the University of Hamburg) a phylogenetic analysis technique which they have called Network. Again as the name suggests, this too is a phylogenetic method of a type that can produce representations not only in the form of discretely branching trees but also more complex networks or webs of relationships (a characteristic it shares with the quite different NeighborNet programme). Network is freely available for download from: www.fluxus-engineering.com/sharenet.htm.
Peter Forster in particular, at the Glyn Daniel Archaeogenetics Laboratory within the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, has applied Network to language data in his research on Genetic network methods to reconstruct ancient languages, as reported for example in Forster (2006) Median-joining network analysis of Germanic languages. It should be pointed out, though, these applications have been highly controversial with linguists.
Lexicostatistical Data and Research
Isidore Dyen, along with Joseph B. Kruskal and Paul Black, drew up a significant database of lexicostatistical data for the Swadesh 200-word lists for 95 varieties of Indo-European languages. They first published work on this list in 1973, long before the use of the modern phylogenetic analysis methods, but their extensive data have been widely used in recent studies too, such as by Gray & Atkinson (2003). Their data, with accompanying explanatory notes, are freely available for download from this website.
We do not on this page mention researchers working specifically on the lexicostatistical method itself, since we do not use it for Languages and Origins in Europe. For those who are interested in lexicostatistics and recent attempts to rehabilitate the methodology, and the associated glottochronology, a useful place to start is the work of Sheila Embleton at York University (Canada) – see her webpage and her publications, such as Embleton (2000).
Reference tables of Swadesh’s lexicostatistical meaning lists are also available from the Methods page of this website.
Back to Contents – Last section on this page.
As a pointer to other researchers in the field, particularly outside our focus in this webpage on work on Indo-European (including applications of phylogenetic analysis to Bantu and Polynesian languages), see the many contributors to this volume:
Contributors included members of almost all the research groups mentioned on this page, as well as: Robert Dewar; Brett Kessler & Annukka Lehtonen; Lutz Marten; Johanna Nichols; Matthew Spencer et al.; Andrew Garrett; Mark Pagel & Andrew Meade.