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Using ancestral state reconstruction methods for onomasiological reconstruction in multilingual word lists

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Current efforts in computational historical linguistics are predominantly concerned with phylogenetic inference. Methods for ancestral state reconstruction have only been applied sporadically. In contrast to phylogenetic algorithms, automatic reconstruction methods presuppose phylogenetic information in order to explain what has evolved when and where. Here we report a pilot study exploring how well automatic methods for ancestral state reconstruction perform in the task of onomasiological reconstruction in multilingual word lists, where algorithms are used to infer how the words evolved along a given phylogeny, and reconstruct which cognate classes were used to express a given meaning in the ancestral languages. Comparing three different methods, Maximum Parsimony, Minimal Lateral Networks, and Maximum Likelihood on three different test sets (Indo-European, Austronesian, Chinese) using binary and multi-state coding of the data as well as single and sampled phylogenies, we find that Maximum Likelihood largely outperforms the other methods. At the same time, however, the general performance was disappointingly low, ranging between 0.66 (Chinese) and 0.79 (Austronesian) for the F-Scores. A closer linguistic evaluation of the reconstructions proposed by the best method and the reconstructions given in the gold standards revealed that the majority of the cases where the algorithms failed can be attributed to problems of independent semantic shift (homoplasy), to morphological processes in lexical change, and to wrong reconstructions in the independently created test sets that we employed.
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      
               
    
      

     
   
 
 
  

 
       


        
         
         
          
             
          
            
           
            
         
          
              
           
          
            
              
              
               
                
    
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     
      
            
             
         
           
    

         
   
 
        
         
         
          
            
        
             
           
           
           
             
          
           
             
             
       
           
            
           
         
          
           
           
           
            
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   
      
          
           
           
          
           
         
            
           
          
            
           
              
     
           
             
            
           
         
         
             
            
         
          
        
           
         
           
          
             
    
        
              
            
            
           
                
             
             
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     
      
            
        
          
         
           
        
     
           
          
          
          
           
         
          
          
             
              
           
          
          
             
          
            
        
              
           
        
          
         
          
           
            
            
         
        
             
           
 
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   
      
            
          
            
            
               
           
             
            
          
       
          
             
         
       
                 
            
           
           
         
            
        
        
         
            
             
             
           
          
              
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    
      
         
        
            
         

  
 Materials
  
           
          
       
         
         
         
          

            
       
           
         
           
               
            
            

              
              
             
            
            
            
            
          
            
           
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   
      
              
             
          
           
            
            
           
           
               
           
    
            
           
         
            
        
         
          
            
           
           
         
           
           
            
       
          

           
            
               
          
             
        
        
         
               
                
     
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     
      
           
              
            
              
          
    
      
        
        
        
 Methods
  
             
           
            
           
           
             
           
             

        
               

       
         
           
          
  
            
            
         
            
            
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   
      
          
         
    1
           
           
             
           
        
          
          

         
       
           
        
        
           
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    
      
           
           
          
           
02            
   
            
          
             
            
  
   
           
        
           
           
             
         
          

          

           
             
          
         
             
         
          
             
            
            
          
        α    
             
     
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   
      
          
         
            
           
            
       
         
           
             
            
              
             
           
                  
             
          
              
          
                  
           
             
     
                
            
               
              
10          01 
             
            
            
   01        
              
           
              πόδι 
              
           
               
             
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     
      
          
           
             states  
            n  
         ijwij     
 statesi statesj
   l        wpl
 n  wpli0 l   statesi    l 
     l   
           
          
 mother    daughters       
 wpmother   
wpmotheri 
ddaughters
min
1jnwij wpdj 1
     min1inwprooti    
arg min1inwprooti
             
               
             
     
        wii  0
wij  1 ij
                
            
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   
      
          
           wii  0w10  1 
w01  2
             
            
           
            
            
            
            
            
         
             
    
         
           
             
            
         
         
          
             
          
           
          
          
           
             
            
            
        
             
            
                
               
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     
      
             
             
            
            
   
          
            
             
            
               
          
           
           
             
              
              
          
            
       
            
         
            
            
          
              
              
           
                 
                
                
     
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   
      
          
             
     
         
       
            
             
             
    p01           
 p10    
        i j  
 t       Ptij
αp01
p01 p10 2
βp10
p01 p10 3
λ log1p01 p10  4
Pt  βα λtαα λt
ββλtαβλt 5
α β           λ
    t          
          t    
            
    α02β08  λ1
                   t
           
  α              
             
             
   t            
100      α       
           
              
          
        Pt   01
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    
      
          
                
             
            
          
             
              
           x 
    x  πi      i
   l        l
 n  li1 l   statesi  0  l 
    t       
  
           
          
 mother    daughters       
 mother   
motheri 
ddaughters
1jnPti,jdj 6
 t       d   
Downloaded from Brill.com01/03/2020 01:53:28PM
via free access
   
      
       1inrooti  
   i   πirooti
             
            
               
        
    
    λ     
             
            
          

        
         
         
         
         
          
           
          
            
             
          
         
         
 Evaluation
          
          
            
         
       
                
                 
              
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     
      
            
            
           
            
           
            
           

            
              
           
             
              
               
          
      
precision LCA ASR
ASR7
recall LCA ASR
LCA8
Fscore 2precision recall
precision recall 9
         
         
          
  
          
        cc     c
      cc        
           
c            
            
       
           
      cc      
            
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   
      
       
  
 
            
                
            
         
               
            
           
     
             
         
         
        
          
             
            
           
             
          
             
           

           
          
         
             
         
          
          
      
         
           
           
            
 
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     
      
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
            
            
          
             
              
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   
      
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
            
            
          
             
          
          
            
          
         
           
            
           
             
           
           
              
             
            
          
           
           
       
      
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     
      
        
          
          
         
         
    
             
           
          
             
          
              
             
          
           
            
              
             
         
               
              
            
             
           
          
     
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   
      
                
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     
      
             
               
             
            
  
             
             
          
         
  
            
              
         
              
             
           
              
         
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   
      
           
         breathe:P 
           
              
            
           
           
         
            
       day:B   
          
            
               
         
            
           
           
 worm:A            
            
           
           
          
            
               
             
            
      snake:E    
            
             
            
          
           
              
  
            
             
             
          
             
              
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     
      
           
mouth-Kou-222          
              
           
            
     住口        
    口水          
            
            
               
               
               
               
               
              
             
                
            
           
              
           
            
         
            
      
          
             
           
           
           
             
            
           
             
            
           日頭 
   月光       
             
          
              
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   
      
              
              
             
              
          
               
          
           
          
               
           
               
      太陽      
            
       
         
          
       
 
            
       
          
               
              
            
           
             
           
            
          
           
          
         
            熱頭   

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     
      
         
        
           
            
          
            
           
          
            
           
           
             
             
             
        
             
         
      
 
                
    
           
            
          
           
           
  

             
             
          
     
              
    
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   
      
           
         
            

          
             
       
     
   
         
            
           
   
          
      
         
  
  北京大学     汉语方言词汇  
  北京  
           
    
          
        
  
          
         
           
          
 
         
    
          
            
      
      
   
           
   
          

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    
      
             
     
           
           
        
         
    
           
    
           
         
           
          

            
       
    
   
         
       
            
            
 
            
   
        现代汉语方言音库 
     上海   上海教育
            
          
         
          
  
             
           
 
         
            
         
          
  
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   
      
          
          
              

        
            
    
             
   
           
         
 
          
   
         
        
  
           
   
    
             
       

         
           
   
         
        
    
         
          
          
  刘俐李   王洪钟    柏莹   
    现代汉语方言核心词特征词集    
          
南京  凤凰
            
       
     
      
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     
      
             
        
           
         
         
           
           
    
            
           
        
           
    
   
          
          
           
 
           
            
          
        
         
          
      
           
         

         
 
           
  
             
        
          
     
         
       
         
     
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   
      
            
      
          
      
           
   
           

           
             
           
          
 
          
          
 
           
          
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... As automated ancestral state reconstruction gains increasing currency in historical linguistics, it has become common to evaluate the performance of ancestral state reconstruction against comparative reconstructions carried out by one or more experts (Dunn et al. 2017;Jäger & List forthcoming). Given the long history of scholarship on Indo-European morphosyntax, as well as the frequently opposing views found in the literature, a full appraisal along these lines is beyond the scope of this paper; we set this evaluation aside for future work. ...
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