Computer-assisted approaches to historical language comparison

The proposal of new quantitative methods supposed to handle problems in historical linguistics has created a gap between what one could call “classical” approaches to historical language comparison and the “new and innovative” automatic approaches. Classical linguists are often skeptical of the new approaches, partly because the results differ from those achieved by classical methods (Anthony and Ringe 2015, Holm 2007), but also because the majority of the new approaches work in a black box fashion and do not allow inspecting the concrete findings in detail. Computational linguists, on the other hand, complain about classical historical linguists’ lack of consistency when applying the classical methods.


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