23 Mar 2011

Time: Thursday, April 7th, 2011 11:30 am

Place: RCB 6152

Title: Automated reconstruction of protolanguages using probabilistic models of sound change


In this talk, I will outline my work on a probabilistic, computational approach to diachronic phonology. I will show an application to Austronesian languages, where we built a large-scale automatic reconstruction of a set of protolanguages. The results provide insight into the factors determining which sounds in a language are likely to change over time. The models can also be used to simultaneously infer cognate sets, addressing a circularity problem of previous computational approaches to language change.