Explaining the linguistic diversity of Sahul using population models

Reesink, Ger, Singer, Ruth and Dunn, Michael (2009) Explaining the linguistic diversity of Sahul using population models. PLoS Biology, 7 11: e1000241-1-e1000241-9. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000241

Author Reesink, Ger
Singer, Ruth
Dunn, Michael
Title Explaining the linguistic diversity of Sahul using population models
Journal name PLoS Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1544-9173
Publication date 2009-11
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000241
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 7
Issue 11
Start page e1000241-1
End page e1000241-9
Total pages 9
Editor Jonathan A. Eisen
Place of publication San Francisco, CA, United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subject C1
970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
200499 Linguistics not elsewhere classified
Abstract The region of the ancient Sahul continent (present day Australia and New Guinea, and surrounding islands) is home to extreme linguistic diversity. Even apart from the huge Austronesian language family, which spread into the area after the breakup of the Sahul continent in the Holocene, there are hundreds of languages from many apparently unrelated families. On each of the subcontinents, the generally accepted classification recognizes one large, widespread family and a number of unrelatable smaller families. If these language families are related to each other, it is at a depth which is inaccessible to standard linguistic methods. We have inferred the history of structural characteristics of these languages under an admixture model, using a Bayesian algorithm orginally developed to discover populations on the basis of recombining genetic markers. This analysis identifies 10 ancestral language populations, some of which can be identified with clearly defined phylogenetic groups. The results also show traces of early dispersals, including hints at ancient connections between Australian languages and some Papuan groups (long hypothesized, never before demonstrated). Systematic language contact effects between members of big phylogenetic groups are also detected, which can in some cases be identified with a diffusional or substrate signal. Most interestingly, however, there remains striking evidence of a phylogenetic signal, with many languages showing negligible amounts of admixture.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ
Additional Notes Article number e1000241

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2010 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Architecture Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 19 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 30 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 21 Apr 2010, 14:15:51 EST by Deirdre Timo on behalf of School of Architecture