Since the introduction of lexicostatistics in the 1950s, researchers have been investigating methods for the grouping of languages and dialects. The input for these methods are relevant abstractions of linguistic data (most often based on fixed lists of senses, e.g., the Swadesh lists).
The abstractions are traditionally character-based (as in work by Swadesh, Dyen, Ringe, Warnow, Gray and many others), which can be said to define distances on the level of languages. In these approaches, a particular item either is or is not present in a language.
More recently, drawing on advances in computer software and hardware, methods aiming at measuring and aggregating distances among individual linguistic items have been explored (as in work by Kessler, Wichmann, Nerbonne, Kondrak, McMahon and others). In these approaches, individual items are (dis)similar to some quantifiable degree between two languages.
A number of such methods for measuring linguistic differences have been proposed in the literature, but so far, researchers have mostly explored individual methods. Some authors have made explicit comparisons among some of the methods (e.g., Kessler, Kondrak, Nerbonne), but this aspect is still largely unexplored.
There is also a need to contrast the more recent automatic methods with a more traditional historical- comparative methodology (e.g. as recently surveyed and critiqued by Campbell and Poser), which generally draws on a broader range of linguistic phenomena than have so far been used with the automatic approaches, including semantic and grammatical characteristics.
This two-day workshop is intended as a forum to discuss these issues in more depth. Invited speakers
* Michael Cysouw (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
* Lars Johanson (Universität Mainz)
* William McGregor (University of Aarhus)
* John Nerbonne (University of Groningen)
* Søren Wichmann (MPI Leipzig)
* Roman Yangarber (University of Helsinki)
Second call for papers
We invite researchers working on these and related problems to submit proposals for presentations at the workshop, including but not limited to topics such as:
* explicit comparison/evaluation of different methods using the same data
* what do the methods measure? -- linguistically informed evaluation of automatic approaches to measuring linguistic differences
* beyond lexicostatistics: quantification of grammatical and semantic differences, in an automatic or non-automatic framework
* methodological challenges for historical-comparative linguistics
* quantitative aspects of traditional methods in historical linguistics
* new data sources for measuring linguistic differences and their methodological challenges
* case studies on individual languages, language families or linguistic areas
Abstracts should be one (A4 or letter) page long, with 25 mm/one inch margins and the text in a 12 point Roman font. A second page may be included for references and/or data. Abstracts -- in pdf format only -- should be sent to: <workshop2011(at)svenska(d)gu(d)se> (change the parenthesized expressions into the appropriate characters).
Mouton have expressed their interest in publishing a volume based on a selection of presentations at this workshop. Venue
The workshop will take place in Gothenburg, in the Faculty of Arts building at the University of Gothenburg. Important dates
* 15 April 2011: Submission deadline
* 15 May 2011: Acceptance notification
* 24-25 October 2011: Workshop
While there is no registration fee for the workshop, for planning purposes registration is obligatory. This can be done by sending an email to <workshop2011(at)svenska(d)gu(d)se> (change the parenthesized expressions into the appropriate characters). The registration deadline is 30th September, 2011. Workshop organization
Organizing committee Lars Borin (University of Gothenburg) Anju Saxena (Uppsala University) K. Taraka Rama (University of Gothenburg)
Program committee Lars Borin (University of Gothenburg) Bernard Comrie (MPI Leipzig/UC Santa Barbara) Östen Dahl (Stockholm University) Anju Saxena (Uppsala University)
The workshop is a joint arrangement by the project partners (University of Gothenburg, Uppsala University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig). The funding for this workshop is provided by the Swedish Research Council's research projects and by the The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at: <workshop2011(at)svenska(d)gu(d)se> (change the parenthesized expressions into the appropriate characters).
-- Lars Borin Språkbanken • Centre for Language Technology Institutionen för svenska språket Göteborgs universitet Box 200 SE-405 30 Göteborg Sweden
office +46 (0)31 786 4544 mobile +46 (0)70 747 8386
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