Michael Dunn

Michael Dunn
Uppsala University | UU · Department of Linguistics and Philology

PhD

About

78
Publications
19,278
Reads
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2,473
Citations
Citations since 2017
29 Research Items
1399 Citations
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
Additional affiliations
August 2014 - present
Uppsala University
Position
  • Professor of General Linguistics
January 2009 - present
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Position
  • Group Leader

Publications

Publications (78)
Article
This paper infers the processes of development and change of grammatical gender in Indo-Aryan languages using phylogenetic comparative methods. 48 Indo-Aryan languages are coded based on 44 presence-absence features relating to gender marking on the verbs, adjectives, personal pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, and possessive pronouns. A Bayesian Re...
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The use of computational methods to assign absolute datings to language divergence is receiving renewed interest, as modern approaches based on Bayesian statistics offer alternatives to the discredited techniques of glottochronology. The datings provided by these new analyses depend crucially on the use of calibration, but the methodological issues...
Article
Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
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Full-text available
Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
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Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
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Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
Article
Cambridge Core - Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics - Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson
Article
Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
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Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
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Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
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Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
Chapter
Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
Chapter
Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
Chapter
Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
Chapter
Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
Chapter
Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
Chapter
Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
Chapter
Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
Chapter
Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective - edited by Stephen Levinson July 2018
Article
Full-text available
The Dravidian language family consists of about 80 varieties (Hammarström H. 2016 Glottolog 2.7) spoken by 220 million people across southern and central India and surrounding countries (Steever SB. 1998 In The Dravidian languages (ed. SB Steever), pp. 1textendash39: 1). Neither the geographical origin of the Dravidian language homeland nor its exa...
Article
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Significance Do different aspects of language evolve in different ways? Here, we infer the rates of change in lexical and grammatical data from 81 languages of the Pacific. We show that, in general, grammatical features tend to change faster and have higher amounts of conflicting signal than basic vocabulary. We suggest that subsystems of language...
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Aim: Two fundamental questions about human language demand answers: why are so many languages spoken today and why is their geographical distribution so uneven? Although hypotheses have been proposed for centuries, the processes that determine patterns of linguistic and cultural diversity remain poorly understood. Previous studies, which relied on...
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A major argument against the feasibility of reconstructing syntax for proto-stages is the widely discussed lack of directionality of syntactic change. In a recent typology of changes in argument structure constructions based on Germanic (Barðdal 2015), several different, yet opposing, changes are reported. These include, among others, processes som...
Article
The Chapacuran language family, with three extant members and nine historically attested lects, has yet to be classified following modern standards in historical linguistics. This paper presents an internal classification of these languages by combining both the traditional comparative method (CM) and Bayesian phylogenetic inference (BPI). We ident...
Article
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Significance The transition from a foraging subsistence strategy to a sedentary farming society is arguably the greatest innovation in human history. Some modern-day groups—specifically the Basques—have been argued to be a remnant population that connect back to the Paleolithic. We present, to our knowledge, the first genome-wide sequence data from...
Article
In each semantic domain studied to date, there is considerable variation in how meanings are expressed across languages. But are some semantic domains more likely to show variation than others? Is the domain of space more or less variable in its expression than other semantic domains, such as containers, body parts, or colours? According to many li...
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Full-text available
An assumption of many current linguistic theories is that the distribution of linguistic features present in extant human languages is a representative sample of the features that could possibly have evolved. This implicit assumption subserves many claims that the current linguistic features provide a reliable estimate on the relative optimality of...
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The Aslian language family, located in the Malay Peninsula and southern Thai Isthmus, consists of four distinct branches comprising some 18 languages. These languages predate the now dominant Malay and Thai. The speakers of Aslian languages exhibit some of the highest degree of phylogenetic and societal diversity present in Mainland Southeast Asia...
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Our species displays remarkable linguistic diversity. Although the uneven distribution of this diversity demands explanation, the drivers of these patterns have not been conclusively determined. We address this issue in two steps: First, we review previous empirical studies whose authors have suggested environmental, geographical, and sociocultural...
Article
Full-text available
The Aslian language family, located in the Malay Peninsula and southern Thai Isthmus, consists of four distinct branches comprising some 18 languages. These languages predate the now dominant Malay and Thai. The speakers of Aslian languages exhibit some of the highest degree of phylogenetic and societal diversity present in Mainland Southeast Asia...
Article
Full-text available
A Family of Languages English is part of the large Indo-European language family, which includes Celtic, Germanic, Italic, Balto-Slavic, and Indo-Iranian languages. The origin of this family is hotly debated: one hypothesis places the origin north of the Caspian Sea in the Pontic steppes, from where it was disseminated by Kurgan semi-nomadic pastor...
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In the absence of comparative method reconstruction, high rate of lexical cognate candidates is often used as evidence for relationships between languages. This paper uses the Oswalt Monte Carlo Shift test (a variant of Oswalt 1970) to explore the statistical basis of the claim that the four Papuan languages of the Solomon Islands have greater than...
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This collection of papers presents and discusses a landmark achievement in linguistics: Edward Vajda's first demonstration of a plausible genealogical link between languages of Eurasia and languages of the Americas (apart from the more recent circumpolar movements of Eskimo languages). Dramatic discoveries are rare in historical linguistics: as bef...
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We claim that making sense of the typological diversity of languages demands a historical/evolutionary approach. We are pleased that the target paper (Dunn et al. 2011a) has served to bring discussion of this claim into prominence, and are grateful that leading typologists have taken the time to respond.
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This paper analyzes newly collected lexical data from 26 languages of the Aslian subgroup of the Austroasiatic language family using computational phylogenetic methods. We show the most likely topology of the Aslian family tree, discuss rooting and external relationships to other Austroasiatic languages, and investigate differences in the rates of...
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Languages vary widely but not without limit. The central goal of linguistics is to describe the diversity of human languages and explain the constraints on that diversity. Generative linguists following Chomsky have claimed that linguistic diversity must be constrained by innate parameters that are set as a child learns a language. In contrast, oth...
Chapter
The Malay Peninsula is a crossroads for people, languages and cultural influences, apparent in today's vibrant mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai and European. Yet this modern state of affairs all but conceals signals of much older situations of diversity. Thus, some 140,000 people grouped together under the label Orang Asli (Malay for 'aboriginal...
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Explanations in the domain of kinship can be sought on several different levels: Jones addresses online processing, as well as issues of origins and innateness. We argue that his framework can more usefully be applied at the levels of developmental and historical change, the latter especially. A phylogenetic approach to the diversity of kinship ter...
Article
This paper examines the effects of language standardization and orthography design on the Chukchi linguistic ecology. The process of standardisation has not taken into consideration the gender-based sociolects of colloquial Chukchi and is based on a grammatical description which does not reflect actual Chukchi use; as a result standard Chukchi has...
Data
Linguistic characters. The 160 abstract structural features of language used in this study. (0.15 MB PDF)
Data
Coded language data. The complete data set used in this study. Numerals indicate character state, “?” indicates “unknown.” (0.04 MB TXT)
Data
NeighborNet representation of interlinguistic structural distances. The NeighborNet graph of the Sahul language data shows some of the same high level clusters as the STRUCTURE analysis. However the flat nature of this representation essentially forces all languages into a circular arrangement. NeighborNet only shows distance relationships, whereas...
Data
Distribution of STRUCTURE population inferences by proportion. Most languages have a single ancestral population which clearly predominates. (1.15 MB TIF)
Data
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Sources of language data. The 121 languages investigated in this study along with ISO-639-3 language codes. (0.13 MB PDF)
Article
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Author Summary About one-fifth of all the world's languages are spoken in present day Australia, New Guinea, and the surrounding islands. This corresponds to the boundaries of the ancient continent of Sahul, which broke up due to rising sea levels about 9000 years before present. The distribution of languages in this region conveys information abou...
Article
This paper shows that despite evidence of structural convergence between some of the Austronesian and non-Austronesian (Papuan) languages of Island Melanesia, statistical methods can detect two independent genealogical signals derived from linguistic structural features. Earlier work by the author and others has presented a maximum parsimony analys...
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In their Research Article “Language phylogenies reveal expansion pulses and pauses in Pacific settlement,” 23 January, p. [479][1]), R. D. Gray et al. analyzed a very large lexical data set on 400 Austronesian languages to shed light on Polynesian origins. The study raises the classic issue of
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Recent studies have detailed a remarkable degree of genetic and linguistic diversity in Northern Island Melanesia. Here we utilize that diversity to examine two models of genetic and linguistic coevolution. The first model predicts that genetic and linguistic correspondences formed following population splits and isolation at the time of early rang...
Data
Supplemental materials and methods. (0.09 MB DOC)
Article
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Using various methods derived from evolutionary biology, including maximum parsimony and Bayesian phylogenetic analysis, we tackle the question of the relationships among a group of Papuan isolate languages that have hitherto resisted accepted attempts at demonstration of interrelatedness. Instead of using existing vocabulary-based methods, which c...
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This paper builds on a previous work in which we attempted to retrieve a phylogenetic signal using abstract structural features alone, as opposed to cognate sets, drawn from a sample of Island Melanesian languages both Oce-anic (Austronesian) and (non-Austronesian) Papuan (Science 2005[309]: 2072-75 ). Here we clarify a number of misunderstandings...
Chapter
This chapter provides an overview of the Papuan and the Oceanic languages (a branch of Austronesian) in Northern Island Melanesia, as well as phenomena arising through contact between these groups. It shows how linguistics can contribute to the understanding of the history of languages and speakers, and what the findings of those methods have been....
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This chapter investigates the fit of genetic, phenotypic, and linguistic data to two well-known models of population history. The first of these models, termed the population fissions model, emphasizes population splitting, isolation, and independent evolution. It predicts that genetic and linguistic data will be perfectly tree-like. The second mod...
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Kazukuru is an extinct language, originally spoken in the inland of the western part of the island of New Georgia, Solomon Islands, and attested by very limited historical sources. Kazukuru has generally been considered to be a Papuan, that is, non-Austronesian, language, mostly on the basis of its lexicon. Reevaluation of the available data sugges...
Article
As proposed by Ameka and Levinson (this issue) locative verb systems can be classified into four types according to the number of verbs distinguished This article addresses the lower extreme of this typology: languages which offer no choice of verb in the basic locative function (BLF). These languages have either a single locative verb, or do not u...
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The contribution of language history to the study of the early dispersals of modern humans throughout the Old World has been limited by the shallow time depth (about 8000 ± 2000 years) of current linguistic methods. Here it is shown that the application of biological cladistic methods, not to vocabulary (as has been previously tried) but to languag...
Article
The Touo language is a non-Austronesian language spoken on Rendova Island (Western Province, Solomon Islands). First language speakers of Touo are typically multilingual, and are likely to speak other (Austronesian) vernaculars, as well as Solomon Island Pijin and English. There is no institutional support of literacy in Touo: schools function in E...
Article
This paper discusses the development of an orthography for the Touo language (Solomon Islands). Various orthographies have been proposed for this language in the past, and the paper discusses why they are perceived by the community to have failed. Current opinion about orthography development within the Touo-speaking community is divided along reli...
Article
This paper examines the Papuan languages of Island Melanesia, with a view to considering their typological similarities and differences. The East Papuan languages are thought to be the descendants of the languages spoken by the original inhabitants of Island Melanesia, who arrived in the area up to 50,000 years ago. The Oceanic Austronesian languag...
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Chukchi women's language differs from the Chukchi men's variety in a number of synchronically unpredictable ways, particularly with respect to an alternation between r and c/č. This article shows that this alternation is nonarbitrary, originating from the asymmetric collapse of three cognate sets into two, such that in men's Chukchi *r and *d textg...
Article
"The aim of this work is to produce the first fieldwork-based typologically informed reference grammar of Chukchi, an indigenous language of the north-eastern corner of the Russian Federation. The theoretical approach is low-key and eclectic; linguistic phenomena are described in a manner which is, in so far as it is possible, theory-neutral, altho...

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