ICHL workshop schedule

As planned, our one-day workshop “Non-cladistic approaches to language genealogy” (see our earlier Call for papers) will be held at this year’s International Conference on Historical Linguistics (ICHL22), in Naples, on Friday, July 31, 2015.

Below is the schedule (available also as a PDF).


Non-cladistic approaches to language genealogy

organised by Alexandre François and Siva Kalyan

Friday 31 July 2015
Venue: University of Naples, Conference Centre   [map]

9:00–9:50 [Morning plenary speech of ICHL22 conference]
9:50–10:20 Alex François (LACITO-CNRS) & Siva Kalyan (ANU)
Subgrouping without trees: why we need non-cladistic approaches to language genealogy” [introduction to the workshop]
10:20–10:50 Mark Ellison (ANU) & Luisa Miceli (UWA)
“Language discontinua: How bilingual-led differentiation disrupts cladistic modelling”
10:50–11:20 Coffee break
11:20–11:50 Harald Hammarström (MPI)
“Automatic detection of linkages and innovation-defined subgroups”
11:50–12:20 Luke Kelly (U. Oxford)
“Lateral transfer on phylogenetic trees”
12:20–12:50 Annemarie Verkerk (U. Reading)
“Detecting non-tree-like signal using multiple tree topologies”
12:50–13:20 Discussion: theory and methodology
13:20–14:30 Lunch
14:30–15:00 Lawrence Reid (U. Hawaii)
“Philippine linkages and the position of the northern Mindoro languages”
15:00–15:30 Robert Ratcliffe (Tokyo U. of Foreign Studies)
“Glottometric analysis of Semitic”
15:30–16:00 Mark W. Post (U. New England)
“Sharing innovations across branches: A case study of the Tani subgroup of Tibeto-Burman”
16:00–16:30 Agnes Korn (U. Frankfurt)
“Isoglosses and subdivisions of Iranian”
16:30–17:00 Coffee break
17:00–17:30 Siva Kalyan (ANU) & Alex François (lacito-CNRS)
“The structure of the Indo-European linkage”
17:30–18:00 Paul Heggarty (MPI-EVA)
“Splits, shared innovations… and the real world. Overcoming the tree model distortion of language (pre)histories.”
18:00–18:30 General discussion
18:30–19:10 [Closing plenary speech of ICHL22 conference]


ICHL 22 workshop proposal: “Non-cladistic approaches to language genealogy”


Siva Kalyan (Australian National University):   siva.kalyan@anu.edu.au
Alexandre François (CNRS–LaCiTO, ANU):   francois@vjf.cnrs.fr

To be held at the 22nd International Conference on Historical Linguistics (ICHL22), 27–31 July 2015, Naples

Important dates:

  • Deadline for workshop proposals:  20 September 2014
  • Notification of acceptance of workshop proposals:  20 October 2014
  • Deadline for submission of abstracts for general sessions and workshops:  30 January 2015
  • Notification of acceptance of papers for general sessions and workshops:  30 March 2015


Ever since it was popularised by August Schleicher (1853, 1873), the family-tree model has been the dominant paradigm for representing the historical relations among the languages in a family.

The tree model is not without its strengths. Not only does it represent patterns of relatedness among languages, but it also commits itself to reconstructing the sequence of historical and social events that gave rise to these patterns. Further, the formal simplicity of cladistic representations makes it possible to apply powerful computational techniques from biology, which have become increasingly popular in recent years (Ringe et al. 2002, Gray et al. 2010, among many others).

However, the advantages of the tree model come at the cost of making a very restrictive assumption: namely, that language families evolve primarily by splitting, with subsequent loss of contact. Put another way, the tree model assumes that once two speech varieties have started to diverge, it is no longer possible for innovations to diffuse from one to the other. This assumption excludes the possibility of overlapping subgroups.

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