Linguistic studies look for methodologies in other fields

One of the things I’ve always liked about the beginnings of AI was the disparate fields that the first theorists came from – biologists and librarians coming together and finding common ground.

For the same reason, I’m pretty stoked to see that a couple of recent studies in Linguistics have taken methodologies from other fields. A study published in Science magazine that proposes that all languages come from a proto-language, using genetic variation as an example of where it’s worked before.

Another study from Nature is suggesting that common elements in languages have evolved independently and separately.

MKB sums it up well:

I’m not sure whether these two sets of results can be easily compared to one another. The studies were aimed at answering very different questions, so you can’t just line one up against the other. Depending on your point of view, these results may be contradictory … but that’s not necessarily the case. What I do think is interesting about these two studies is the fact that both are based on research methodologies and theories that were born in the fields of evolutionary biology and genetic anthropology.