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Linguistic Diversity and its Sources

Themes and actions

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Team webmaster : Anetta KOPECKA, Brigitte PAKENDORF

  Origins of linguistic diversity
  Language description
  Linguistic typology
  Endangered languages
  Research seminar

Origins of linguistic diversity


This theme uses a panoply of approaches from different disciplines to investigate both the internal and external factors that play a role in the emergence of linguistic diversity. One approach to investigating language-internal change is descriptive, reconstructing the sequence of changes that take place during the history of a language family; another is explanatory, elucidating the potential causes of internal changes in the cumulative amplification of minute biases - of a cultural or biological nature - over centuries. As for the external causes of diversification, these can be linked to the environment, both social (leading to language contact and also to competition between languages) and physical. A third aspect of the research conducted in this theme reaches deeper back in time by studying communication among our closest relatives , the bonobos, with the potential of shedding light on the evolution of human language.


Variation, Change and Complexity in Linguistic and Health-related Behaviours (V2C)
 Dan DEDIU
individual variation, linguistic diversity, statistics, phylogenetics, networks, fricatives
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The updated story of /r/: typology, anatomy, variation and language change
 Rémi ANSELME

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Inter-individual variations and their impact on language evolution
 Mathilde JOSSERAND

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Nominal classification, why and how?
 Marc ALLASSONNIÈRE-TANG

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Bantu diachronic phonology
 Gérard PHILIPPSON

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The role of language contact in language diversification: Even as a case study
 Brigitte PAKENDORF
Even, Siberia, contact, historical linguistics, corpus linguistics
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Molecular anthropological perspectives on prehistory in southern Africa
 Brigitte PAKENDORF
mtDNA, autosomal DNA, Y-chromosome, Khoisan, Bantu
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Early social experience and the development of communicative abilities in bonobos
 Elisa DEMURU
Bonobo (Pan paniscus), Developmental and comparative approach, Acquisition Socio-emotional competence, Communicative competence
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Language description


The Language description theme aims at the description of under-described and undocumented languages, which are often endangered, at different levels of their system: phonology, morphosyntax, semantics, and discourse. The descriptions that we produce are situated in a twofold perspective, both typological and areal, and they are based on fieldwork that we carry out within communities in their cultural and ecological environment. In our approach to language description, we pay particular attention to our , the validity of our data collection methods, and sharing our data and results with the communities. Our approach consists of combining various methods, including both the collection of spontaneous speech samples and elicitation using direct elicitation techniques (based on translation) and indirect techniques (based on visual stimuli). Beyond the study of under-described languages, our research also concerns well-known languages, with the aim of investigating some lesser-known linguistic facts of these languages or re-examining them in the light of the typological approach.


A grammar of swo
 Tessa VERMEIR
Bantu languages; Makaa-Njem group (A80); Endangered languages; Language description; Linguistic fieldwork
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Documentation and description of the Takanan languages of Amazonian Bolivia
 Antoine GUILLAUME
Bolivian Amazon; takana languages; cavineña; reyesano; tacana; documentation; description
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A grammar of Mojeño Trinitario
 Françoise ROSE
Bolivia; Amazonia; Arawak; Moxo
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A descriptive grammar of Black Hmong, a Hmong Mien language od North Vietnam
 Léa MOUTON
Vietnam; Hmong-Mien; Grammatical description; Tonal system; Nominal categorization; Lexical composition; Verbal serialization; Expression of space
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Pervasive nominalization in Yukuna: An Arawak language of Colombian Amazonia
 Magdalena LEMUS SERRANO

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Structural aspects of Siberian languages (with a focus on Northern Tungusic)
 Brigitte PAKENDORF
Sakha (Yakut), Even, Negidal, Siberia, evaluative morphology
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Linguistic typology


The Typology theme studies the diversity of the ways that different linguistic categories are expressed across the languages of the world, and it includes work in morphosyntactic and semantic typology. The originality of our research in typology lies in the fact that it is based on descriptions of under-described and undocumented languages and on first-hand linguistic data. Our approach to typology is inclusive in that we seek to identify typologically interesting phenomena in the languages we study and to contribute new data to existing typologies, thereby making them evolve. Moreover, it is areal in that it takes into account contact between languages, whether these are genealogically close or distant.


Motion events and the variation between and within languages
 Anetta KOPECKA
Motion event typology, Path, Manner, inter- and intralinguistic variation
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Motion events in Nepali
 Krishna PARAJULI
Nepali; Indo-Aryan; Motion events; Path; Manner; lexicalization patterns
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Motion events in Ancient Greek: a corpus-based study of Path and Manner expression
 Noemi DE PASQUALE

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A typological study of the asymmetrical expression of Path
 Clément VOIRIN
motion events, Path, Source-Goal asymmetry, distributed spatial semantics, verbal encoding, adnominal encoding, typology
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Dynamic Deixis in the expression of motion events in Standard Chinese
 Jin-Ke SONG
motion; dynamic deixis; path; Source-Goal asymmetry; Standard Chinese
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A Typological and Contrastive Study of aller ‘go’/venir ‘come’ in French and pāj ‘go’/māː ‘come’ in central Thai
 Nichuta BUNKHAM

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SpOTy Project (Spatial Ontology and Typology)
 Alice VITTRANT

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Typology of associated motion
 Antoine GUILLAUME
associated motion; motion event; morphology; South American languages
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Sociative causative : typology and areal distribution
 Françoise ROSE

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A typology of genderlects
 Françoise ROSE
gender; pragmatics; typology; speech act participants; male speech / female speech
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Cross-linguistic phonetics and morphology using a time-aligned multilingual reference corpus built from documentations of 50 languages: Big data on small languages
 Matthew STAVE , François PELLEGRINO
Corpus Linguistics, Language Documentation, Typology, Phonetics, Information rate
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Endangered languages


The theme Endangered Languages: Fieldwork – Description/Documentation – Revitalization (LED TDR) , which started in 2009, unites those members of DDL who work on the description and documentation of endangered languages (EL) in different parts of the world. LED TDR coordinates the Language Revitalization Network (LRN), an international network with the University of Oregon Department of Linguistics as its principal partner.
Its objective is to contribute to the intellectualization of the issues surrounding work on EL by using a contrastive approach for parallel analyses of a great variety of EL situations, in particular of highly endangered languages.
Its major topics of research are the specificities of fieldwork on EL (for either description, documentation, revitalization), the analysis of the great diversity of the sociolinguistic contexts of EL, and the linguistic and social challenges of their revitalization.
The team offers support for students and junior researchers working on the description and documentation of EL, with a particular attention to the ethical aspects of such work in such very sensitive field situations.


The Rama Language Project (RLP) of Nicaragua
 Colette GRINEVALD
Rama (Chibcha) of Nicaragua ; fieldwork, description-documentation, revitalization of a Very Endangered Language, working ON a language, FOR and WITH a community. Field base for LED TDR
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HELP for Endangered Legacy Collections : the Jakaltek archives
 Colette GRINEVALD
Jakaltek (Mayan), updating of archives, Archives of Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA), Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation (CELP) of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA)
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A documentation of Teko (Emérillon)
 Françoise ROSE

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Documentation of Mojeño Trinitario
 Françoise ROSE

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Database of Francoprovençal of the Lyonnais region
 Michel BERT
Francoprovençal , documentation, linguistic atlas of the Lyonnais region, database, cartography
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Documentation of Negidal, a nearly extinct Northern Tungusic language of the Lower Amur
 Brigitte PAKENDORF , Natalia ARALOVA
Tungusic; documentation; endangered language; archive; corpus
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Research seminar


The DiLiS research seminar is structured into four workshops (“ateliers” in French) that reflect the major research themes : Morphosyntax, Semantic Typology, Endangered Languages—Fieldwork, Documentation, Revitalisation, and Origins of Linguistic Diversity. These meet at more or less regular intervals and provide an opportunity for informal discussion of work in progress, issues with data collection, as well as interesting articles that have appeared recently. If you would like to attend a workshop or an individual session, please contact the relevant coordinator (see the Events calendar for details).


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