What We’ve Been Up To: The Riddle of Tasmanian Languages


In this 2012 paper, Dr. Bowern examines Tasmanian languages using Bayesian phylogenetic methods. Her findings shed light on an area of ambiguity in the study of linguistics. While it had been previously understood (or assumed) that the languages on Tasmania were members of a single language family, the results of this paper demonstrate there being twelve essentially unrelated Tasmanian languages. The use of algorithms in this project to clarify what was once opaque portends a future for the field in which quantitative methods like Bayesian phylogenetics prove essential to the study of languages.

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