Posts

Online resources on linguistic typology and beyond

Image
Many Humans Who Read Grammars are also teachers of some kind, myself included. With the world-wide outbreak of COVID-19, most of this teaching is forced to be no longer in a classroom setting, but rather in a remote fashion. This comes with one benefit: if someone can tell it better than you, and a video of it happens to be on youtube, get your students to watch that lecture! So, please find some resources on linguistic typology & co below.


First up is a short list of youtube videos on linguistic typology and some related topics.

There is an entire MA course called 'Language Typology' from the Virtual Linguistic Campus (Uni Marburg). Here is a link to the Virtual Linguistic Campus, featuring many more lecture series on topics in linguistics. The same for this course here, a full course from the NPTEL-NOC IITM channel that contains a lot of courses, also on linguistics. A set of mini-lessons in linguistic typology by Isabel Cooke McKay, including topics such as phonological t…

A decade of state-of-the-art quantitative methods in linguistic typology

Image
Some turning points in linguistic typology are easily recognised, such as the ground-breaking work by Joseph Greenberg on implicational universals entitled "Some universals of grammar with particular reference to the order of meaningful elements" (Greenberg 1963). Other turning points are less well-defined, less commonly associated with a single paper, or a specific typologist, team, or place. But there was definitely something in the water during, let's say, a period centred around 2010 – a change that we could call the quantitative turn in linguistic typology. 

Linguistic typologists have long recognised that the languages of the world are related in various ways, most importantly, in nested arrays of hierarchical descent (genealogy) as well as in so-called Sprachbunds or linguistic areas (geography). For a long time, i.e. work reaching from Bell (1978) all the way to Bakker (2010), these interdependencies have been viewed as something of a nuisance, something to get ri…

Ethnologue changes access, again! Clarifying points

Image
News in brief.
Ethnologue, as of October 26, have changed their access conditions on the site. Instead of getting 3 free page views per month, users can now see all pages on the website but not all information on them. To the right are examples of what the views look like for Country and Language pages. This has sparked negative emotions.

They are also pushing more for their guide pages, which old users may notice is very similar to the "Statistics" pages of older editions but with less information. These guide pages seem directed more at educators than academics.

Just like with the previous access restrictions, these are not levied against users in certain countries with low mean incomes. They have also launched a contributor program, which will enable people who contribute to access Ethnologue freely.

SIL International is the publisher of Ethnologue, they are a "faith-based" organisation and while they claim to not be missionary, they work closely with and are funded…

Language family maps

Image
Last week, I assigned Bernhard Comrie's (2017) chapter 'The Languages of the World' (from The Handbook of Linguistics, 2017) to a class. It's a basic overview of the world's language families, which is what I wanted them to read, but for one thing: there are no maps in it. I overcompensated in class by presenting a 30-item list of maps, because some things are just so much easier to understand using visual representations. I decided to post some of the best ones I could find here, for future reference and in order to invite you to post better ones in the comments.

This blog has featured posts on maps before, by Hedvig on how to best represent linguistic diversity on maps and by Matt on new approaches to ethnographies-linguistic maps. It's clear that the kind of maps that are typically used to depict the spatial distribution of languages of a single language family are fraught with difficulties. Typically they deal with multilingualism very poorly, the data they…