On the Empirical and Mathematical basis of Syntactic Comparison

Andrea Ceolin, Giuseppe Longobardi, Guido Cordoni, Cristina Guardiano, Monica-Alexandrina Irimia, Dimitrios Michelioudakis, Nina Radkevich, Luca Bortolussi, Andrea Sgarro

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Recent studies have taken advantage of computational techniques to investigate the evolution of Indo-European languages. However, these methods are not able to overcome the time constraints on lexical evolution, which limit a broader application of the Classical Comparative Method, and therefore cannot be used above the family level. For this reason, evidence from cross-family relationships must come from other domains (e.g. phonetics). Longobardi and Guardiano (2009) shows that another domain, syntax, is a potential source for cross-family comparison. In this paper, we evaluate the method proposed in L&G (2009), the PCM, and argue through a random generation of possible grammars that syntactic distances can be useful to detect signals of historical relatedness above the Indo-European level.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2016
EventThe 3rd Formal Ways of Analyzing Variation conference (FWAV3) - New York, United States
Duration: 18 May 201619 Nov 2016


ConferenceThe 3rd Formal Ways of Analyzing Variation conference (FWAV3)
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York


  • Historical Linguistics

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