Author Archives: Frederic Blum

A New Dataset with Phonological Reconstructions in CLDF

Data in historical linguistics is typically presented in non-machine-readable formats, such as text-based supplementary material or even handwritten manuscripts. Many annotations and important facts are given in prose or remain within linguists’ heads. Those problems make it difficult for non-experts in the specific field to understand the data, and to reproduce and replicate the results, and also limits the exposure that linguists receive for their hard work. Similar to previous blog posts on retro-standardizing data, we present the digitization of a dataset that includes phonological reconstructions. By representing this kind of data in CLDF, we can apply a variety of computer-assisted methods to assess the quality of the reconstructions.

Creating Custom Commands in CLDF: From Lexibank to Nexus Files

Thanks to the CLDFBench Python package, CLDF datasets compiled with CLDFbench have a rich command-line utility that can easily be expanded by custom commands (Forkel et al. 2018, Forkel and List 2020) . Taking as an example the creation of a Nexus-file for phylogenetic analysis from an existing Lexibank Wordlist (List et al. 2022) , this tutorial will guide you through the necessary steps for writing a script that can be used as a CLDFBench command. You will then be able to apply the same workflow to other scripts you may want to use for a certain repository.

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Data Gathering in Times of a Pandemic: Upcycling Constenla Umaña’s Data on the Chibchan, Lencan and Misumalpam Language Families

While searching for the topic of a small research project about the linguistic history of South America, I realized that a lot of data that is crucial for assessing central arguments is not openly available, but new data is difficult to come by these days. And when it is, it is not usually presented in data format that allows for easy reuse. Guided by these thoughts, I decided to turn towards the upcycling of previously published data (also called retro-standardization, see for example Geisler et al. (forthcoming) on the upcycling of the TPPSR dataset, The dataset I chose was previously published by Adolfo Constenla Umaña (2005). In this article, the author investigated comparatively the long-claimed genealogical relationship of three families of Central and South America, Chibchan, Lencan and Misumalpam (Lehmann 1920).

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