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Showing posts from June, 2017

New Approaches to Ethno-Linguistic Maps

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I’m excited to give a guest blog post here at humans who read grammars on new methods in language geography.  I’m a geographer by trade, and I am currently a PhD student at the University of Maryland.  I also work for an environmental nonprofit - Conservation International - doing data science on agriculture and environmental change in East Africa.  Before ending up where I am now, I lived for some time in West Africa and the Philippines.  During my time in both of those linguistically-rich areas, I became quite interested in language geographies and linguistics more generally.  Spurned on by curiosity and my disappointment in available resources, I’ve done some side projects mapping languages and language groups, which I’ll talk about here. Problems with Current Language Maps One major issue with most modern maps of languages is that they often consist of just a single point for each language - this is the approach that WALS and glottolog take.  This works pretty well for global-scale …

World map of language families from Glottolog

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Language families are the main way we categorise and understand the language diversity of the world. A language family is a group of languages that have been analysed as having one ancestor,  one great-great-great-and-yet-greater-grand-mother language. Indo-European is a language family, with the sub-groups of Romance, Germanic, Slavic etc.

Maps are great tools for visualising information, we're pretty map-nerdy on this blog.Robert Forkel, one of the editors of Glottolog, kindly shared an interactive map of the world with languages plotted out and coloured by language family with me. This map is interactive, rendered in a web browser with and html and json file.

This map is not available on the Glottolog site, but will later be implemented in the command-line interface. You can see language families on the website by either selecting a country or a specific family. This tool is the only way to see all language families in all countries on Glottolog. 

I will let you know when this is …