Dr. Simon J. Greenhill
Sagart L, Jacques G, Lai Y, Ryder RJ, Thouzeau V, Greenhill SJ, List J- M. 2019 Dated language phylogenies shed light on the ancestry of Sino-Tibetan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201817972.
Abstract PDF 10.1073/pnas.1817972116 Overview
Given its size and geographical extension, Sino-Tibetan is of the highest importance for understanding the prehistory of East Asia, and of neighboring language families. Based on a dataset of 50 Sino-Tibetan languages, we infer phylogenies that date the origin of the language family to around 7200 B.P., linking the origin of the language family with the late Cishan and the early Yangshao …
Hua X, Greenhill SJ, Cardillo M, Schneemann H & Bromham L. 2019. The ecological drivers of variation in global language diversity. Nature Communications, 10, 2047.
Abstract PDF 10.1038/s41467-019-09842-2
Language diversity is distributed unevenly over the globe. Intriguingly, patterns of language diversity resemble biodiversity patterns, leading to suggestions that similar mechanisms may underlie both linguistic and biological diversification. Here we present the first global analysis of language diversity that compares the relative importance of two key ecological mechanisms – isolation and …
Pacheco Coelho MT, Barreto Pereira E, Haynie HJ, Rangel TF, Kavanagh P, Kirby KR, Greenhill SJ, Bowern C, Gray RD, Colwell RK, Evans N, & Gavin MC. 2019. Drivers of geographical patterns of North American language diversity. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, Biological Sciences, 286: 20190242.
Abstract PDF 10.1098/rspb.2019.0242
Although many hypotheses have been proposed to explain why humans speak so many languages and why languages are unevenly distributed across the globe, the factors that shape geographical patterns of cultural and linguistic diversity remain poorly understood. Prior research has tended to focus on identifying universal predictors of language diversity, without accounting for how local factors and …
Greenhill, SJ. 2018. Treemaker: A Python library for creating a Newick formatted tree from a set of classification strings. Journal of Open Source Software, 3(31), 1040.
Abstract PDF 10.21105/joss.01040 Code
treemaker is a Python library to convert a text-based classification schema into a Newick file for use in phylogenetic and bioinformatic programs. Research in linguistics or cultural evolution often produces or uses tree taxonomies or classifications. However, these are usually not in a format readily available for use in programs that can understand and manipulate trees.
Bromham L, Hua X, Cardillo M, Schneemann H & Greenhill SJ. 2018. Parasites and politics: why cross-cultural studies must control for relatedness, proximity and covariation. Royal Society Open Science, 5, 191100.
Abstract PDF 10.1098/rsos.181100
A growing number of studies seek to identify predictors of broad-scale patterns in human cultural diversity, but three sources of non-independence in human cultural variables can bias the results of cross-cultural studies. First, related cultures tend to have many traits in common, regardless of whether those traits are functionally linked. Second, societies in geographical proximity will share …
Glottobank is an international research consortium established to document and understand the world’s linguistic diversity. We have established five global databases documenting variation in language structure (Grambank), lexicon (Lexibank), paradigm systems (Parabank), numerals (Numeralbank), and phonetic changes (Phonobank).
From the foods we eat, to who we can marry, to the types of games we teach our children, the diversity of cultural practices in the world is astounding. Yet, our ability to visualize and understand this diversity is often limited by the ways it traditionally has been documented and shared: on a culture-by-culture basis, in locally-told stories or difficult-to-access books and articles. D-PLACE represents an attempt to bring together this dispersed corpus of information.
TransNewGuinea.org is a database of the Trans-New Guinea language family and friends. The Trans-New Guinea language family currently occupies most of the interior of New Guinea. This family is possibly the third largest in the world with 400 languages and is tentatively thought to have originated with root-crop agriculture around 10,000 years ago. However, vanishingly little is known about this family’s history.
The Polynesian Lexicon Project Online is a large-scale comparative dictionary of Polynesian languages.
The Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database is the world’s largest cross-linguistic database of the Pacific. It contains ~300,000 lexical items from ~1,600 languages spoken throughout the Pacific region.