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Language Dispersal, Diversification, and Contact$
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Mily Crevels and Pieter Muysken

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723813

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198723813.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 June 2021

Large and ancient linguistic areas

Large and ancient linguistic areas

(p.78) 5 Large and ancient linguistic areas
Language Dispersal, Diversification, and Contact

Balthasar Bickel

Oxford University Press

Large-scale areal patterns point to ancient population history and form a well-known confound for language universals. Despite their importance, demonstrating such patterns remains a challenge. This chapter argues that large-scale area hypotheses are better tested by modeling diachronic family biases than by controlling for genealogical relations in regression models. A case study of the Trans-Pacific area reveals that diachronic bias estimates do not depend much on the amount of phylogenetic information that is used when inferring them. After controlling for false discovery rates, about 39 variables in WALS and AUTOTYP show diachronic biases that differ significantly inside vs. outside the Trans-Pacific area. Nearly three times as many biases hold outside than inside the Trans-Pacific area, indicating that the Trans-Pacific area is not so much characterized by the spread of biases but rather by the retention of earlier diversity, in line with earlier suggestions in the literature.

Keywords:   linguistic area, diachrony, phylogenetic inference, population history, language family

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