Tag Archives: phylogenetic reconstruction

Biological metaphors and methods in historical linguistics (3): Homology and homoplasy

As we have seen in previous instances of this blog post series, there are many parallels but also many differences between the evolutionary branches of biology and of linguistics. In the following, I will present a comparison of the causes due to which two related inheritable entities (e.g. two words or two genes of different languages or species) may differ from each other, or two unrelated ones resemble each other. The linguistic categories presented here can also be found in List (2016) whereas the biological categories are largely based on Koonin (2005).

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Rooting MADness

Rooting of phylogenetic trees is an important task, not only in evolutionary biology, but also in historical linguistics. So far, however, different rooting methods have not yet been sufficiently tested on linguistics data. Given that a new method for the automatic rooting of phylogenetic trees has been presented recently in biology, it seemed to be a good occasion to test in detail how well this new method works in comparison with alternative methods.

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