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Wordcorr Home > Linguist > How to use > Refine the results> Summarize the evidence

Short sample from Summarize Evidence

The summary of evidence, for which Wordcorr may put out pages and pages like the example, proceeds in conventional phonetic order, with phonetically similar but contrasting protosegments like b and p (prefixed with an asterisk *) shown in proximity. The environment for each cluster is given, followed by a number of reconstructed forms (also asterisked) as evidence for the cluster.

Each reconstruction has a gloss and a measure of its plausibility. The measure is positive [1.0] when every correspondence set in the reconstructed form is backed by a lot of identical correspondence sets in other forms, and is close to [-1.0] when few or none of the correspondence sets are attested in any other forms. Then the actual raw data follow, each preceded by the short names of one or more speech varieties that attest the datum.

In the top example, all the varieties back up *buta 'stone'. Eleven of them have initial *b in bunga[1] as their word for 'flower', and one has a reduplicated form. Eight have initial *b in *buwa 'fruit' attested as buwa, one as buwa, and one as bua. The other two have words that cannot be traced back to *bua, so they contribute no evidence for the protosegment *b.

Other environments could trigger complementary correspondence sets, but 'flower, fruit, mountain' make it likely that 'moon' has a different source than a simple *b. The more data we run through Wordcorr, the clearer the major historical patterns become. For patterns that don't show consistency, genetic development is probably not the full explanation of how they got that way, and we must look for borrowings and internal analogies.

Click here to see the other display, Output Results.

[1] The Web software is not as sophisticated as Wordcorr's, so on this Web page we use temporary fixes like writing ng for the velar nasal and ? for glottal stop.

Again, Nathan Davis put together the behind the scenes components that make this possible. What you see here will be available in Release 2.1, still in preparation.

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