The shape and fabric of human history.

I presented the following talk at the Bridging Disciplines: Evolution and Classification in Biology, Linguistics and the History of Sciences conference in Ulm. Simon J. Greenhill and Russell D. Gray. The shape and the fabric of human cultural history is the focus of two long-standing debates in linguistics and anthropology. The first concerns the extent to which human history is tree-like (its shape), and the second concerns the unity of that history (its fabric).

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Phylolinguistics: Tackling old questions with modern methods.

Last week I presented a talk to the School of Culture, History and Language at Australia National University on Phylolinguistics: The last few years have seen a wave of new computational phylogenetic approaches entering historical linguistics. The application of these computational methods to linguistics is perhaps “one of the most vibrant contemporary streams of comparative linguistics”. Whilst linguistics is not unfamiliar with computational methods, these new methods go far beyond the simplistic and flawed analyses of lexicostatistics or glottochronology.

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Bioinformatics Institute: Using phylogenetics to understand languages and cultures

On Wednesday October the 7th, I gave a talk to the Bioinformatics Institute on “Using phylogenetics to understand languages and cultures”: Languages are the archives of history. Their elements – such as lexicon and grammar – carry historical signal about the people who spoke these languages and their cultures. Biologists have developed a powerful set of statistical phylogenetic methods for answering questions about human prehistory using genetic data. Information from language, however, holds far greater potential for understanding our past.

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Applied Language Studies and Linguistics Seminar: Using phylogenetics to understand languages and cultures

On Wednesday, September 30th, I gave a Applied Language Studies and Linguistics Seminar on “Using phylogenetics to understand languages and cultures”: Languages are the archives of history. Their elements – such as lexicon and grammar – carry historical signal about the people who spoke these languages and their cultures. Biologists have developed a powerful set of statistical phylogenetic methods for answering questions about human prehistory using genetic data. Information from language, however, holds far greater potential for understanding our past.

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