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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
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryIn 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.
Course description 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.

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
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 18, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 79 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1. Data coding exercise. We will decide in class on a set of linguistic and / or cultural features to investigate. Each student will code data for these features for a small set of languages, and the data will be combined into a single database. Submitted directly to the Course Organiser.

2. Research report (max 1500 words). Presents the results of an analysis of data selected from the class database.

Assessment Deadline:
Return Date:
Feedback Comments provided on submitted assessments
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. infer language phylogenies using modern phylogenetic tools
  2. define and code linguistic and cultural traits for phylogenetic analysis
  3. carry out hypothesis testing using a range of modern phylogenetic comparative methods
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.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Participants will learn to implement practical interdisciplinary research design bridging humanities and sciences.

Experience in critical assessment of research papers using phylogenetic methods to address linguistic and cultural evolutionary questions and understanding of the role of phylogenetic theory in the study of language variation and change.
Additional Class Delivery Information Attend all lectures as scheduled
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Michael Dunn
Tel: (0131 6)50 6977
Course secretaryMiss Toni Noble
Tel: (0131 6)51 3188
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