Johann-Mattis List


2020

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CLDFBench: Give Your Cross-Linguistic Data a Lift
Robert Forkel | Johann-Mattis List
Proceedings of the 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

While the amount of cross-linguistic data is constantly increasing, most datasets produced today and in the past cannot be considered FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reproducible). To remedy this and to increase the comparability of cross-linguistic resources, it is not enough to set up standards and best practices for data to be collected in the future. We also need consistent workflows for the “retro-standardization” of data that has been published during the past decades and centuries. With the Cross-Linguistic Data Formats initiative, first standards for cross-linguistic data have been presented and successfully tested. So far, however, CLDF creation was hampered by the fact that it required a considerable degree of computational proficiency. With cldfbench, we introduce a framework for the retro-standardization of legacy data and the curation of new datasets that drastically simplifies the creation of CLDF by providing a consistent, reproducible workflow that rigorously supports version control and long term archiving of research data and code. The framework is distributed in form of a Python package along with usage information and examples for best practice. This study introduces the new framework and illustrates how it can be applied by showing how a resource containing structural and lexical data for Sinitic languages can be efficiently retro-standardized and analyzed.

2019

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An Automated Framework for Fast Cognate Detection and Bayesian Phylogenetic Inference in Computational Historical Linguistics
Taraka Rama | Johann-Mattis List
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We present a fully automated workflow for phylogenetic reconstruction on large datasets, consisting of two novel methods, one for fast detection of cognates and one for fast Bayesian phylogenetic inference. Our results show that the methods take less than a few minutes to process language families that have so far required large amounts of time and computational power. Moreover, the cognates and the trees inferred from the method are quite close, both to gold standard cognate judgments and to expert language family trees. Given its speed and ease of application, our framework is specifically useful for the exploration of very large datasets in historical linguistics.

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Automatic Inference of Sound Correspondence Patterns across Multiple Languages
Johann-Mattis List
Computational Linguistics, Volume 45, Issue 1 - March 2019

Sound correspondence patterns play a crucial role for linguistic reconstruction. Linguists use them to prove language relationship, to reconstruct proto-forms, and for classical phylogenetic reconstruction based on shared innovations. Cognate words that fail to conform with expected patterns can further point to various kinds of exceptions in sound change, such as analogy or assimilation of frequent words. Here I present an automatic method for the inference of sound correspondence patterns across multiple languages based on a network approach. The core idea is to represent all columns in aligned cognate sets as nodes in a network with edges representing the degree of compatibility between the nodes. The task of inferring all compatible correspondence sets can then be handled as the well-known minimum clique cover problem in graph theory, which essentially seeks to split the graph into the smallest number of cliques in which each node is represented by exactly one clique. The resulting partitions represent all correspondence patterns that can be inferred for a given data set. By excluding those patterns that occur in only a few cognate sets, the core of regularly recurring sound correspondences can be inferred. Based on this idea, the article presents a method for automatic correspondence pattern recognition, which is implemented as part of a Python library which supplements the article. To illustrate the usefulness of the method, I present how the inferred patterns can be used to predict words that have not been observed before.

2018

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Are Automatic Methods for Cognate Detection Good Enough for Phylogenetic Reconstruction in Historical Linguistics?
Taraka Rama | Johann-Mattis List | Johannes Wahle | Gerhard Jäger
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 2 (Short Papers)

We evaluate the performance of state-of-the-art algorithms for automatic cognate detection by comparing how useful automatically inferred cognates are for the task of phylogenetic inference compared to classical manually annotated cognate sets. Our findings suggest that phylogenies inferred from automated cognate sets come close to phylogenies inferred from expert-annotated ones, although on average, the latter are still superior. We conclude that future work on phylogenetic reconstruction can profit much from automatic cognate detection. Especially where scholars are merely interested in exploring the bigger picture of a language family’s phylogeny, algorithms for automatic cognate detection are a useful complement for current research on language phylogenies.

2017

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Using support vector machines and state-of-the-art algorithms for phonetic alignment to identify cognates in multi-lingual wordlists
Gerhard Jäger | Johann-Mattis List | Pavel Sofroniev
Proceedings of the 15th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Volume 1, Long Papers

Most current approaches in phylogenetic linguistics require as input multilingual word lists partitioned into sets of etymologically related words (cognates). Cognate identification is so far done manually by experts, which is time consuming and as of yet only available for a small number of well-studied language families. Automatizing this step will greatly expand the empirical scope of phylogenetic methods in linguistics, as raw wordlists (in phonetic transcription) are much easier to obtain than wordlists in which cognate words have been fully identified and annotated, even for under-studied languages. A couple of different methods have been proposed in the past, but they are either disappointing regarding their performance or not applicable to larger datasets. Here we present a new approach that uses support vector machines to unify different state-of-the-art methods for phonetic alignment and cognate detection within a single framework. Training and evaluating these method on a typologically broad collection of gold-standard data shows it to be superior to the existing state of the art.

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A Web-Based Interactive Tool for Creating, Inspecting, Editing, and Publishing Etymological Datasets
Johann-Mattis List
Proceedings of the Software Demonstrations of the 15th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The paper presents the Etymological DICtionary ediTOR (EDICTOR), a free, interactive, web-based tool designed to aid historical linguists in creating, editing, analysing, and publishing etymological datasets. The EDICTOR offers interactive solutions for important tasks in historical linguistics, including facilitated input and segmentation of phonetic transcriptions, quantitative and qualitative analyses of phonetic and morphological data, enhanced interfaces for cognate class assignment and multiple word alignment, and automated evaluation of regular sound correspondences. As a web-based tool written in JavaScript, the EDICTOR can be used in standard web browsers across all major platforms.

2016

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Concepticon: A Resource for the Linking of Concept Lists
Johann-Mattis List | Michael Cysouw | Robert Forkel
Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'16)

We present an attempt to link the large amount of different concept lists which are used in the linguistic literature, ranging from Swadesh lists in historical linguistics to naming tests in clinical studies and psycholinguistics. This resource, our Concepticon, links 30 222 concept labels from 160 conceptlists to 2495 concept sets. Each concept set is given a unique identifier, a unique label, and a human-readable definition. Concept sets are further structured by defining different relations between the concepts. The resource can be used for various purposes. Serving as a rich reference for new and existing databases in diachronic and synchronic linguistics, it allows researchers a quick access to studies on semantic change, cross-linguistic polysemies, and semantic associations.

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Using Sequence Similarity Networks to Identify Partial Cognates in Multilingual Wordlists
Johann-Mattis List | Philippe Lopez | Eric Bapteste
Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

2014

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A Benchmark Database of Phonetic Alignments in Historical Linguistics and Dialectology
Johann-Mattis List | Jelena Prokić
Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'14)

In the last two decades, alignment analyses have become an important technique in quantitative historical linguistics and dialectology. Phonetic alignment plays a crucial role in the identification of regular sound correspondences and deeper genealogical relations between and within languages and language families. Surprisingly, up to today, there are no easily accessible benchmark data sets for phonetic alignment analyses. Here we present a publicly available database of manually edited phonetic alignments which can serve as a platform for testing and improving the performance of automatic alignment algorithms. The database consists of a great variety of alignments drawn from a large number of different sources. The data is arranged in a such way that typical problems encountered in phonetic alignment analyses (metathesis, diversity of phonetic sequences) are represented and can be directly tested.

2013

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Using Network Approaches to Enhance the Analysis of Cross-Linguistic Polysemies
Johann-Mattis List | Anselm Terhalle | Matthias Urban
Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Computational Semantics (IWCS 2013) – Short Papers

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An Open Source Toolkit for Quantitative Historical Linguistics
Johann-Mattis List | Steven Moran
Proceedings of the 51st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

2012

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LexStat: Automatic Detection of Cognates in Multilingual Wordlists
Johann-Mattis List
Proceedings of the EACL 2012 Joint Workshop of LINGVIS & UNCLH