20.010 density of language taxa?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2006 06:46:50 +0100

                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 10.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Thu, 11 May 2006 06:41:39 +0100
         From: "Yuri Tambovtsev" <yutamb_at_mail.cis.ru>
         Subject: Density of Language Taxa

Dear Humanist colleagues, please comment on the following:
Yuri Tambovtsev, Novosibirsk Pedagog. University, Russia.
Dispersion of the Uralic language taxon from a typological viewpoint.
     The goal of this research was to compute the similarity of the
distribution of 8 consonantal groups (labial, front, palatal, back,
sonorant, occlusive, fricative and voiced) in the speech sound chains
of different world languages. The value of the coefficient of variance
was chosen as the measure of similarity. Let us analyse the values in
some language taxa: groups, families and super-families.
The Value of the Mean of the Coefficient of Variance (V%).
Ugric group (5 languages) - V%= 27.66%
Volgaic group (4) - V% = 17.90%
Baltic-Finnic group (7) = 23.24%
Finno-Ugric family (20) = 23.91%
Samoyedic family (4) = 16.30%
Uralic super-family (24) = 28.31%.
The value of the mean of the coefficient of variance of the Ugric
group (27.66%) is really great. We can compare it to the analogical
means of the groups of the Indo-European family: Baltic (2 languages)
- 9.08%; Iranian (8 languages) - 11.69%; Slavonic (12 languages) -
15.78%; Indic -20.40%; Germanic (6 languages) - 24.51%.
It is possibele to explain the great value of dispersion of
the Ugric group by the fact that the structure of the Hungarian
speech sound chain is too different from those of Mansi and Hanty.
The fact that the value of the mean of the coefficient of variance in the
Samoyedic language taxon may tell us that the languages of the
Samoyedic origin are more typologically similar, than those of Indic
or Germanic origin. If we unite the Finno-Ugric languages (23.91%)
and the Samoyedic languages (16.30%) into one language taxon,
called Uralic, then the dispersion increases to 28.31%, which is much
greater than those of the Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic families taken
separately. It means that typologically these two parts are quite
different. This is why, one should be cautious to unite them. They
seem quite different from the point of view of the distribution of the
consonants in their speech chains. Usually, genetically related
languages have similar speech sound chains, that is, they are
typologically close. Basing on the typological data, it is possible to
suppose that Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic languages have gone into
different directions and this distance is rather great.
I'd like to hear comments of colleagues concerning the distances
between the languages inside the language groups, families and super-
families based on the typological data. I wish I could co-operate with
the linguists who may be interested in my method. It is possible to
study the density and dispersion of the language taxa of American
Indian language taxa or the taxa of the Aboriginal languages of
Australia, etc., etc. Looking forward to hearing from you soon to
<mailto:yutamb_at_mail.ru>yutamb_at_mail.ru Remain yours sincerely Yuri
Tambovtsev, Novosibirsk
Pedagog. University, Novosibirsk, Russia.
Received on Thu May 11 2006 - 02:14:41 EDT

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