Evolution and Language: Phylogenetic Analyses

Abstract

Language phylogenies are a potentially powerful way to answer questions about how languages and cultures evolve. Recently phylogenetic methods have been applied to answer a range of questions about the evolution of human languages and cultures. This chapter reviews the historical background of these approaches and provides a detailed methodological overview. Three different applications of phylogenetic methods are discussed: how language phylogenies can be used to test population dispersal hypotheses, to investigate processes in language evolution, and to infer patterns in cultural evolution. The chapter closes with a brief discussion of some controversies over the use of these methods before discussing some future prospects.

Figure from:

Greenhill SJ. 2015. Evolution and Language: Phylogenetic Analyses. In The International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd Edition. Wright, JD (Ed). Elsevier: Oxford.

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Greenhill SJ. 2015. Evolution and Language: Phylogenetic Analyses. In The International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd Edition. Wright, JD (Ed). Elsevier: Oxford.
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