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Numbers and historical linguistics: a match made in heaven?

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Whatever you associate with the term “historical linguistics,” chances are that it will not be numbers or computer algorithms. This would perhaps not be surprising were it not for the fact that linguistics in general has seen increasing use of exactly such quantitative methods. Historical linguistics tends to use statistical testing and quantitative arguments less than linguistics generally. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Linguistics generally has seen an increase in the use of corpora and quantitative methods over the recent years. Yet journal publications in historical linguistics are less likely to use such methods. Part of the explanation is no doubt the advantage that linguistics for extant languages holds regarding greater availability of annotated text corpora and people who can answer questionnaires or take part in experiments. Yet this can only be part of the explanation. Although historical records are clearly patchy and biased, there is nevertheless much information. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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