Showing posts from February, 2020

A decade of state-of-the-art quantitative methods in linguistic typology

Some turning points in linguistic typology are easily recognised, such as the ground-breaking work by Joseph Greenberg on implicational universals entitled "Some universals of grammar with particular reference to the order of meaningful elements" (Greenberg 1963). Other turning points are less well-defined, less commonly associated with a single paper, or a specific typologist, team, or place. But there was definitely something in the water during, let's say, a period  centred  around 2010  –  a change that we could call the quantitative turn in linguistic typology.  Linguistic typologists have long recognised that the languages of the world are related in various ways, most importantly, in nested arrays of hierarchical descent (genealogy) as well as in so-called Sprachbunds or linguistic areas (geography). For a long time, i.e. work reaching from Bell (1978) all the way to Bakker (2010), these interdependencies have been viewed as something of a nuisance, something to