Dr Quentin Atkinson - Bayesian phylogeography on Australian languages

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - 10:00 - 11:00
HESP Lecture


Dr. Quentin Atkinson

School of Psychology, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Bayesian phylogeography on Australian languages

Tuesday, October 21 – 10-11am

Physical Anthropology Laboratory, Department of Archaeology, Education Building ,SFU Burnaby

Recent work on language evolution has successfully applied phylogenetic methods from biology to comparative cultural and linguistic data to test hypotheses about cultural ancestry, rates of change and sequences of change. However, relatively little attention has focused on explicitly modeling large-scale spatial processes of language change. Here I report results from collaborative research that uses Bayesian inference of phylogeography to tackle the enigma of Australian linguistic diversity - how is it that, of the 27 recognised Australian language families, one family (Pama-Nyungan) covers 90% of the continent? This research extends our models of Indo-European expansion in an Australian context. The results are currently preliminary, but suggest that Bayesian phylogeogrpahy might help us uncover the prehistory of this continent that we know so little about.


A seminar Hosted by Mark Collard