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Mad science has never been so cute!
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 Post subject: Language Detectives!
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:58 am 
Established Mad Scientist
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Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:32 pm
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Location: Manhattan KS
One of the cover banner blurbs on the Jan/Feb 2010 Science Illustrated is "Language Detectives". Sadly, it has nothing to do with forensic linguistics, it's about tracing South Pacific migration patterns via linguistics.


 Post subject: Re: Language Detectives!
PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:41 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:09 pm
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Which, you must admit, is pretty awesome. Computational linguistics can reconstruct 2000 years of human migration, including when islands were settled and by who, just from examining phonological changes and grammar. This is all the more impressive because there's not a lot of data on many Polynesian languages; most speech research is done on major languages with huge corpora of millions of words which have been carefully transcribed, translated, parsed, and annotated. The data from most Polynesian languages are just short word lists of phonetic transcription, so it's sometimes ambiguous what word corresponds to another word on a different island.

"I think too much - therefore I am mad! Grr!" -Lucrezia Mongfish

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