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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Language Sciences

Postgraduate Course: Phylogenetic Analysis of Language (LASC11122)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits10
Home subject areaLanguage Sciences Other subject areaNone
Course website Please use Learn Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionIn recent years phylogenetic techniques from evolutionary biology have increasingly been used to address issues in language change and variation. The major shortcomings of earlier quantitative historical linguistic approaches, notably lexicostatistics and glottochronology, have been resolved with the introduction of model-based, likelihood methods such as Bayesian Phylogenetic Inference.

In this course students will learn the theory and practice of inferring phylogenies of languages and of comparing phylogenetic hypotheses about linguistic and other cultural traits. This will include: modern approaches to identifying dates and geographic locations of events in a language family history; reticulate evolutionary change; distance measures and dialectometry; and the correlations between language and genes and culture. The practical component of the course will will introduce tests for: measuring phylogenetic signal; determining patterns of evolutionary mode (punctuated evolution, Brownian and Ornstein-Uhlenbeck models); ancestral state reconstruction; evolutionary rate and rate variation; correlated evolution; geographically explicit models of evolution.

Taught by Dr Michael Dunn
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 2, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 13/01/2014
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 18, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 80 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
- Experience in critical assessment of research papers using phylogenetic methods to address linguistic and cultural evolutionary questions
- Understanding of the role of phylogenetic theory in the study of language variation and change
- Ability to infer language phylogenies using modern phylogenetic tools
- Experience in defining and coding linguistic and cultural traits for phylogenetic analysis
- Ability to carry out hypothesis testing using a range of modern phylogenetic comparative methods
Assessment Information
1500 word research report
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Lecture 1. Evolutionary diversity of language
Lecture 2. Inferring phylogeny
Lecture 3. Models of language family evolution
Lecture 4. Mode of evolution
Catch-up lab session
Lecture 5. Continuous traits
Lecture 6. Discrete traits
Lecture 7. Evolving complexity
Lecture 8. Phylogenetic approaches to the evolution of meaning and culture
Transferable skills Participants will learn to implement practical interdisciplinary research design bridging humanities and sciences.
Reading list Dunn, Michael. in press. Language Phylogenies. In: Bowern, Claire and Bethwyn Evans. Handbook of Historical Linguistics. Routledge.

Dunn, Michael, Simon J. Greenhill, Stephen C. Levinson, and Russell D. Gray. 2011. Evolved Structure of Language Shows Lineage-specific Trends in Word- order Universals. Nature 473: 79-82.

Shijulal, Nelson-Sathi, Johann-Mattis List, Hans Geisler, Heiner Fangerau, Russell D. Gray, William Martin, and Tal Dagan. 2011. Networks Uncover Hidden Lexical Borrowing in Indo-European Language Evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278 (1713): 1794-1803.

Bouckaert, Remco, Philippe Lemey, Michael Dunn, Simon J. Greenhill, Alexander V. Alekseyenko, Alexei J. Drummond, Russell D. Gray, Marc A. Suchard, and Quentin D. Atkinson. 2012. Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family. Science 337 (6097): 957-960.

Fortunato, Laura. 2011a. Reconstructing the History of Marriage Strategies in Indo-European-Speaking Societies: Monogamy and Polygyny. Human Biology 83 (1): 87-105.

Fortunato, Laura. 2011b. Reconstructing the History of Residence Strategies in Indo-European-Speaking Societies: Neo-, Uxori-, and Virilocality. Human Biology 83 (1): 107-128.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Simon Kirby
Tel: (0131 6)50 3494
Course secretaryMiss Toni Noble
Tel: (0131 6)51 3188
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