Paper: Alignment of Multiple Languages for Historical Comparison

ACL ID P98-1043
Title Alignment of Multiple Languages for Historical Comparison
Venue Annual Meeting of the Association of Computational Linguistics
Session Main Conference
Year 1998

An essential step in comparative reconstruction is to align corresponding phonological segments in the words being compared. To do this, one must search among huge numbers of potential alignments to find those that give a good pho- netic fit. This is a hard computational prob- lem, and it becomes exponentially more difficult when more than two strings are being aligned. In this paper I extend the guided-search align- ment algorithm of Covington (Computational Linguistics, 1996) to handle more than two strings. The resulting algorithm has been im- plemented in Prolog and gives reasonable results when tested on data from several languages. 1 Background The Comparative Method for reconstructing languages consists of at least the following steps: 1. Choose sets of words in the daughter lan- gu...