Towards a formal genealogical classification of Lezgian languages of the North Caucasus
 
Alexei Kassian (Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a.kassian@gmail.com)
 
Journal of Language Relationship, № 11, 2014 - p.63-80
 
A lexicostatistical classification is proposed for 20 languages and dialects of the Lezgian group of the North Caucasian family, based on meticulously compiled 110-item wordlists, published as part of the Global Lexicostatistical Database project. The lexical data have been subsequently analyzed with the aid of the principal phylogenetic methods, both distance-based and character-based: Starling neighbor joining (StarlingNJ), Neighbor joining (NJ), unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPGMA), Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC), Unweighted maximum parsimony (UMP). All these methods, with the exception of UMP, have yielded trees that are sufficiently compatible with each other to generate a summary phylogenetic tree of the Lezgian lects. The obtained summary tree agrees with the traditional classification as well as some of the previously proposed formal classifications of this linguistic group. Contrary to theoretical expectations, the UMP method has suggested the least plausible tree of all.
 
Keywords: language classification, lexicostatistics, phylogeny, Lezgian languages
 
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Supplementary materials
The zip-archive includes:
- lez.xls, multistate matrix in MS Excel format;
- lez.nex, binary matrix in NEXUS format;
- lez.tnt, binary matrix in NEXUS format for the TNT software;
- lez-reverse-distances-multistate.xls, reverse distance matrix, generated from the multistate matrix in the Starling software;
- lez-distances-binary.txt, distance matrix, generated from the binary matrix in the SplitsTree4 software;
- *.tre, some of the discussed trees in NEWICK format.