Gastvorträge und Werkstattgespräche 2018

Prof. Dr. Geert Brône (KU Leuven)

Die Koordination von Blickverhalten in der Interaktion. Eine Eye-Tracking-Studie zu Feedback und Feedbackelizitierung in triadischen Gesprächen

Donnerstag, 12. April 2018, 16:15 Uhr bis 18:00 Uhr


Prof. Dr. Gerhard Jäger (Universität Tübingen)

Typologies in equilibrium

Donnerstag, 15. März 2018, 16:15 Uhr bis 18:00 Uhr

In a landmark paper, Maslova (2000) argued that the synchronous frequencies of a typological variable do not reveal  distributional universals. As there is no guarantee that the underlying  dynamic process has reached equilibrium, observed frequencies may 
reflect properties of ancestor languages rather than functional  tendencies. As a remedy, Maslova proposes to estimate the transition  rates between types from diachronic data and to compute the equilibrium  distribution analytically instead. 

Probably due to the sparsity of diachronic typological evidence, this  program has not been realized so far. Techniques from the *phylogenetic  comparative method* (cf. Nunn, 2011) in computational biology, however,  paired with the newly available electronic typological data sources, afford an alternative way to realized Maslova's goal. 

Once a typological variable and a collection of languages has been  fixed, the workflow is as follows: 

1. Infer a (distribution of) phylogeny(ies) from lexical data. 

2. Estimate the transition matrix between the values of the variable. 

3. Calculate the equilibrium distribution of this Markov process. 

I conducted two case studies: (A) The major word order types, using  WALS, and (B) case marking alignment patterns, using the data from  Bickel et al., 2014. In both studies, I used the ASJP database (Wichmann  et al., 2016) for the first step. 

In (B), we found substantial differences between equilibrium and observed values. The corresponding results for (A), however, suggest that equilibrium has been reached.