Article

Variability-based neighbor clustering: A bottom-up approach to periodization in historical linguistics

Stefan Th. Gries and Martin Hilpert

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of English

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199922765
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199922765.013.0014

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Variability-based neighbor clustering: A bottom-up approach to periodization in historical linguistics

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One of the linguistic sub-disciplines that has benefited most from corpora is historical linguistics, and many new diachronic resources have become available especially during the last ten to fifteen years. However, the longitudinal nature and the more constrained sampling of diachronic corpora present a number of challenges for historical linguists. One central problem that has received little attention is the periodization of a linguistic phenomenon P; that is, how the development of P over time can be divided into periods or stages. Because neither the year-by-year development of P nor the pre-defined historical periods distinguished by corpus compilers may be particularly meaningful or revealing for P, a bottom-up approach might be more appropriate for determining the stages of P’s development. However, this is difficult to accomplish using existing methods. This article describes a new clustering method, “Variability-based Neighbor Clustering” (VNC), to identify periods in the historical development of P that accounts for the temporal ordering of the data.

Keywords: historical linguistics; diachronic corpora; periodization; bottom-up; Variability-based Neighbor Clustering; temporal ordering; evidence

Article.  3900 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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