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Improving Phylogeny-Based Network Approaches to Investigate the History of the Chinese Dialects

Abstract : Phylogeny-based network approaches are a powerful tool to study language history. Based on a reference tree, they infer the minimal amount of transfer events that is needed to explain the patterning of cognate sets observed in contemporary languages. Since these approaches handle both vertical and lateral aspects of language history, they seem perfectly adequate to study Chinese dialect history. In this paper, a couple of modifications to previous phylogeny- based network approaches are presented. Having confirmed that these modifications constitute significant improvements by testing them on a control-dataset of 40 Indo-European languages, the new method is applied to a dataset of 40 Chinese dialects. The results show that the majority (60%) of character patterns in the Chinese dataset cannot be readily explained as resulting from vertical inheritance alone, much more than observed for the Indo-European data (32%). Since the method yields concrete assessments regarding the regularity of cognate sets, it is very useful as a starting point for deeper historical analyses.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00861815
Contributor : Johann-Mattis List <>
Submitted on : Friday, September 13, 2013 - 3:26:45 PM
Last modification on : Monday, May 18, 2020 - 12:24:06 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 7:35:24 PM

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  • HAL Id : hal-00861815, version 1

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Johann-Mattis List. Improving Phylogeny-Based Network Approaches to Investigate the History of the Chinese Dialects. LFK Society Young Scholars Symposium, Aug 2013, Seattle, United States. ⟨hal-00861815⟩

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