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Banking on language at the Max PIanck Institute

Evolution, Shape

Date: 23 October 2015

Kyla Quinn:

Nick Evans, Hedvig Skirgård and Kyla Quinn attended the 3rd Glottobank Workshop held at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany.

The workshop brought together linguists and evolutionary biologists working on the various databases that constitute the Glottobank project. The databases have been designed to be used to answer questions about both language evolution and typology, and to store data that is structural (Grambank), morphological (Parabank) and lexical (Lexibank).

Nick Evans and Kyla Quinn presented an update on Parabank, the 'youngest' of the databases. It will capture paradigmatic structures across a number of categories - pronouns, verbs, sibling terms, demonstratives and numerals. Hedvig Skirgård coordinated and chaired a number of meetings on Grambank, a database of information on language features and structures. Simon attended via Skype to answer questions about the Lexibank project.

Glottobank should soon have a website to provide further information on the project.

Following the Glottobank meeting, Hedvig and Kyla attended the Capturing Phylogenetic Algorithms for Linguistics Workshop in Leiden, Netherlands.

This workshop bought together people from a range of disciplines including linguistics, evolutionary biology, mathematics and computer science. CoEDL affiliate Erich Round also attended. The workshop aimed to address issues in the application of phylogenetic techniques to linguistic data. Kyla presented 'Systematic Examination of Unsystematic Features: an initial look at diagnosing phylogeny through syncretism' and Erich presented 'More and better characters: the next big boost for phylogenetic algorithms'.

CoEDL members also attended 'State of the Art' sessions focussed on loanword detection, cognacy and use of various algorithmic techniques.

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