Chundra A. Cathcart

I am a postdoctoral researcher in linguistics at the University of Zurich. I am a diachronic linguist whose work has a quantitative and computational bent. My main interests concern sound change and morphosyntactic change. Broadly speaking, I am interested in the pressures that interact to shape the synchronic profiles of languages, with a focus on languages of Central, South and Southeast Asia. I use a wide range of tools in my approach to these issues. I use a wide range of quantitative and computational tools to investigate these issues, including Bayesian models and methods from deep learning, and seek to develop models that are flexible enough to address a wide range of questions of interest to diachronic linguists and linguists more generally. Code related to various projects I am working on can be found at my GitHub page, and I can be reached via email at firstname dot lastname at

Selected Publications

To appear. Gerd Carling and Chundra Cathcart. Evolutionary dynamics of Indo-European alignment patterns. Diachronica.

2020. Chundra Cathcart, Andreas Hölzl, Gerhard Jäger, Paul Widmer and Balthasar Bickel. Numeral classifiers and number marking in Indo-Iranian: a phylogenetic approach. Language Dynamics and Change.

2020. Chundra Cathcart and Taraka Rama. Disentangling dialects: a neural approach to Indo-Aryan historical phonology and subgrouping. In Proceedings of the 24th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning, pp. 620–630. Association for Computational Linguistics.

2020. A probabilistic assessment of the Indo-Aryan Inner-Outer Hypothesis. Journal of Historical Linguistics 10:42–86. (Preprint)

2020. Chundra Cathcart and Joanne Yager. Linguistic stability and change under small-scale egalitarian language contact: a mixture model approach. In Denison., M. Mack, Y. Xu, & B.C. Armstrong (Eds.), Proceedings of the 42th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, pp. 3109–3115. Cognitive Science Society.

2020. Chundra Cathcart and Florian Wandl. In search of isoglosses: continuous and discrete language embeddings in Slavic historical phonology. In Proceedings of the Seventeenth SIGMORPHON Workshop on Computational Research in Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology, pp. 233–244.

2019. Gaussian Process Models of Sound Change in Indo-Aryan Dialectology. In Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Computational Approaches to Historical Language Change, pp. 254–264.

2019. Toward a deep dialectological representation of Indo-Aryan. In Proceedings of VarDial, pp. 110–119.

2018. Modeling linguistic evolution: a look under the hood. Linguistics Vanguard.

2018. Chundra Cathcart, Gerd Carling, Filip Larsson, Niklas Johansson and Erich Round. Areal pressure in grammatical evolution: An Indo-European case study. Diachronica 35:1–34.

2017. Decomposability and Frequency in the Hindi/Urdu Number System. Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. 1733–1738.

2015. Degrees of irregular change: phonological reduction and grammatical convergence in West Iranian. Language Dynamics and Change 5.2:282–308.

2015. William Chang, Chundra Cathcart, David Hall and Andrew Garrett. Ancestry-constrained phylogenetic analysis supports the Indo-European steppe hypothesis. Language 91.1:194–244. Reprinted in The Best of Language: Volume III.


2020. Dialectal Layers in West Iranian: a Hierarchical Dirichlet Process Approach to Linguistic Relationships.

Selected Presentations

2019. Chundra Cathcart and Damián Blasi. How well do Recurrent Neural Networks capture regularities in sound change? Paper presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, Leipzig, August 22.

2019. Latent variable models of Indo-Aryan languages. Paper presented at the 24th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Canberra, July 2.

2019. Toward a deep dialectological representation of Indo-Aryan. Poster presented at the Sixth Workshop on NLP for Similar Languages, Varieties and Dialects, Minneapolis, June 7.

2019. Prior thoughts on mixed-membership models in linguistics. Paper presented at Bayes@Lund, Lund University, May 7.

2018. Phylogenetic perspectives on V2 and subject-drop in Indo-European. Paper presented at Perspectives on Word Order Evolution: Reconstruction, Typology, and Processing. University of Zurich, November 8.

2018. The Inner-Outer hypothesis of Indo-Aryan: a computational study. Paper presented at the 34th South Asian Languages Analysis Roundtable (SALA), University of Konstanz, April 13.

2017. Decomposability and Frequency in the Hindi/Urdu Number System. Poster presented at the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, London, July 29.