12-13 May 2022
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
Europe/Berlin timezone

Research Software for Historical Language Comparison

12 May 2022, 15:45
Lecture Hall (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology)

Lecture Hall

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology

August Thienemann Strasse 2 24306 Plön Germany
remote Session 2


Johann-Mattis List (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)


The field of traditional historical linguistics has long since applied
various techniques for the historical comparison of languages which aim
to reconstruct certain aspects of ancestral languages which are not
witnessed in sources through the comparison of extant language varieties
for which sources exist. Although the techniques are in theory highly
formalized, they are up to now almost exclusively applied in a manual
fashion and only certain aspects, such as reconstruction of language
phylogenies have been automated so far. Our project on Computer-Assisted
Language Comparison tries to design software tools which help linguists
to automatize and formalize these tasks. Our strategy is to design
complex algorithms which typically run in Python along with lightweight
annotation tools which help scholars to annotate and analyze their data
in a human- and machine-readable way. In the talk, we will introduce our
tools and our strategies for research software design and illustrate
them by providing concrete examples.

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