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date: 26 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

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

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