Monthly Blog Posts for March

While I was in Russia last week, I found time to write another blogpost in the blog on phylogenetic networks, this time on alignments in historical linguistics. I was inspired to this post by a brief discussion we had on a recent paper by J. Bengtson on Academia. Bengtson proposes a long-range relation between Basque and Northern Caucasian languages, which may be sound or not (I cannot judge these questions, lacking expertise in the relevant language families). When looking at the table of proposed corresponding words, I deeply missed explicit alignments which would have helped me to find out between which sounds the correspondences are assumed. People still refuse to align data in linguistics, maybe for reasons of tradition, maybe also, because in initial stages of theories, they do not know how to exactly align words. But given that systems like the EDICTOR now also allow to indicate regions to be ignored, and that we may well manage to even annotate uncertainty soon, this is a technical, not a theoretical obstacle, and I hope that future hypotheses are presented by showing at least some aligned forms, in order to properly illustrate regular sound correspondences.