Geography and language divergence: The case of Andic languages
We study the correlation between phylogenetic and geographic distances for the languages of the Andic branch of the East Caucasian (Nakh-Daghestanian) language family. For several alternative phylogenies, we find that geographic distances correlate with linguistic divergence. Notably, qualitative classifications show a better fit with geography than cognacy-based phylogenies. We interpret this result as follows: The better fit may be due to implicit geographic bias in qualitative classifications. We conclude that approaches to classification other than those based on cognacy run a risk to implicitly include geography and geography-related factors as one basis of genealogical classifications.