Discuss results - Chinese - Mandarin, Cantonese

Posted by: Albert on Feb. 11, 2016, 17:32
You have some great work here.
I find a lot of languages missing, with the most notable being Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese. What is the reason they are omitted and would you be able to include them?
Posted by: Vincent on Feb. 13, 2016, 9:42
Hi Albert,
Thank you very much for your interest. The problem with Chinese and other languages from its family is that eLinguistics.net system relies only on consonants to quantify the relatedness between languages. It has big advantages but also a series of limits. Chinese is - as far as I know - a tonal language and the ton variety is something I couldn't modelize for the computer. Including Chinese would be important of course, as it is one of the most important languages in the world, but the eLinguistics.net system is too limited to analyse it with a decent level of reliability.
Perhaps I am wrong and underestimate the impact of consonants in tonal languages. If you have an idea about this, I would be glad to read more. I will try anyway some time - it won't hurt to do so.
Kind regards
Posted by: Vincent on Nov. 7, 2016, 22:50
Hi Albert,
You contacted me earlier this year regarding the missing Chinese in eLinguistics.net. I have corrected this now - so it can be found in the comparison now. I have added also several languages of South-East Asia. They are not included in the tree for now but in the raw data, Mandarin, Cantonese, Burmese and Tibetan happen to be a separate group (as they actually are) - so the system works for these languages as well.
I am not sure if you know Chinese, if so, I would be glad to have you comments about the distance between Cantonese and Mandarin:
Cantonese to Mandarin comparison
it happens to be quite distant, mostly because of the different words for body parts. I am not sure if there are synonyms which would link these two languages more closely. My expectation was that the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese would be similar to the difference between English and German or French and Italian.
Thank youin advance for your comments.
Best regards
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