Language Phylogenies: Modelling the evolution of language.
Published: 5 May, 2023.
Recent years have seen Bayesian phylogenetic methods from evolutionary biology applied to questions about language evolution in two major contexts. First, language phylogenies are now routinely used to make inferences and test hypotheses about human prehistory. Second, language phylogenies provide a solid backbone 10 to test hypotheses about how aspects of language and culture have evolved in three key ways: by revealing the evolutionary dynamics, by modelling the trait history, and testing coevolutionary hypotheses. In this chapter I will survey this literature, present some case studies that highlight how these tools have been and continue to be useful, and discuss some shortcomings and open problems.