Measuring Linguistic Distance in Athapaskan
Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt:Since the last attempts to establish sub-grouping in Athapaskan (cf. Mithun 1999), the field has benefited from a wider availability of data through published grammars, dictionaries, and articles, as well the greater ease of accessibility to digital archives containing field notes and other relevant primary materials. Additionally, computer-aided techniques of data analysis have been developed, making it possible to treat larger sets of data and
... sets of data and more readily visualize these data with graphs and maps. Here, we present the results of applying statistical clustering and mapping techniques in grouping Athapaskan languages on the basis of phonological similarity. We want to argue for the usefulness of applying such techniques to Athapaskan, and point toward future work that will integrate greater and more varied bodies of data that we believe will lead to a reliable sub-grouping of Athapaskan languages and bring greater understanding of the history of the Athapaskan-speaking peoples.