Thursday, September 2, 2021

Proto-Indo-European Grammar Was Similar To Classical Greek And Sanskrit

A computationally driven reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European grammar from all known living and extinct Indo-European languages using computational biology methods favors a reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European grammar (ca. 4500 BCE to 5000 BCE) that resembles classical Greek and Sanskrit grammar (a conclusion the reproduces the conclusions of the old school linguistics methods first applied in the 19th century).

The paper and its abstract are as follows:

This study uses phylogenetic methods adopted from computational biology in order to reconstruct features of Proto-Indo-European morphosyntax. We estimate the probability of the presence of typological features in Proto-Indo-European on the assumption that these features change according to a stochastic process governed by evolutionary transition rates between them. 
We compare these probabilities to previous reconstructions of Proto-Indo-European morphosyntax, which use either the comparative-historical method or implicational typology. 
We find that our reconstruction yields strong support for a canonical model (synthetic, nominative-accusative, headfinal) of the protolanguage and low support for any alternative model. 
Observing the evolutionary dynamics of features in our data set, we conclude that morphological features have slower rates of change, whereas syntactic traits change faster. Additionally, more frequent, unmarked traits in grammatical hierarchies have slower change rates when compared to less frequent, marked ones, which indicates that universal patterns of economy and frequency impact language change within the family.
Gerd Carling, Chundra Cathcart, "Reconstructing the evolution of Indo-European grammar." Language (2021) DOI: 10.1353/lan.0.0253


Guy said...


Did you find an alternative path?


andrew said...

No. I relied on the Science Daily press release.