Part of a larger interdisciplinary project on the history of the Americas, this study focuses on investigating and re-evaluating linguistic areas in Amazonia. Our dataset is based on a qualitative, fine-grained survey of features with areal potential. It includes a variety of phonological and morphological features (e.g. ejectives, tone, SG-PL stem alternation, demonstratives). Our genetically and geographically balanced language sample covers 101 South American languages (38 families and 20 isolates). For the quantitative analysis, we use a geographically informed Bayesian clustering approach to find linguistic areas in Amazonia. In contrast to simple clustering, this approach also controls for possible confounding effects due to inheritance and universal preference (features being similar due to being globally common). Our results offer an additional line of evidence to understand the complex contact history of Amazonia, and complements genetic, archaeological, and cultural data.
Chousou-Polydouri, N. & van Dam, K. P. & Inman, D. & Vuillermet, M., & Easterday, S. & Rose, F. & Bickel, B. 2021. Mapping linguistic areas: a preliminary case study in Amazonia. Special workshop Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Amazonian Past (Emlen, N. & Arias Alvis, L. & van Gijn, R), at Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America XII Biennal Conference.