Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 240816
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Germany

New tools for linguists

An EU team has introduced new methods for the comparison of languages. The new tools enable computerised linguistics analysis, and were tested on a set of South American languages.
New tools for linguists
The field of historical-comparative linguistics has a long history, including achievements such as reconstruction of the ancient Indo-European language. Yet, the subject's methods are often labour intensive, plus the field lacks methodological innovation.

The EU-funded QUANTHISTLING (Quantitative modeling of historical-comparative linguistics: Unraveling the phylogeny of native South American languages) project refined the subject's practice. The study developed new, less time-consuming, computational methods.

Researchers developed several open-source computational tools. The purpose was to bridge the gap between conventional linguistics research and the newer style of quantitative historical linguistics. The tools helped scholars produce work readable by both humans and machines.

Using the new toolset, the team analysed various groups of languages and several data sets. The work involved digitising the knowledge bases on the respective languages, which had hitherto only been available in printed form.

The project's work will modernise the field of study, partly by making the subject more attractive to scholars interested in using computerised analyses. Results also help accelerate the pace of research in a subject where long research timeframes is the norm.

Related information


Languages, linguistics, South American, QUANTHISTLING, phylogeny,
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