Phylogenetic Methods and the Prehistory of Languages

by Peter Forster & Colin Renfrew

Evolutionary ('phylogenetic') trees were first used to infer lost histories nearly two centuries ago by manuscript scholars reconstructing original texts. Today, computer methods are enabling phylogenetic trees to transform genetics, historical linguistics and even the archaeological study of artefact shapes and styles. But which phylogenetic methods are best suited to retracing the evolution of languages? And which types of language data are most informative about deep prehistory? In this book, leading specialists engage with these key questions.

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Description

Essential reading for linguists, geneticists and archaeologists, these studies demonstrate how phylogenetic tools are illuminating previously intractable questions about language prehistory. This innovative volume arose from a conference of linguists, geneticists and archaeologists held at Cambridge in 2004.

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