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Languages and language groups which we are studying

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An Atlas of the Araxes-Iran Linguistic Area

This project investigates contact phenomena leading to shared linguistic features among six different language families spoken in the South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan), northern Iraq, northern Iran, and eastern Turkey. Data come primarily from published sources of naturalistic speech, supplemented by fieldwork in poorly documented languages and include some 330 phonological, grammatical, and lexical features. [more]

A grammar of Yakkha

Yakkha is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Eastern Nepal. The project will result in a grammar, a dictionary and a text corpus. [more]

A grammar of Bezhta

This project aims at the description of Bezhta. The grammar will include phonology, morphology and syntax. [more]

A grammar of Yeri

Yeri is a Torricelli language spoken in Sandaun Province, Papua New Guinea. The language is spoken in a single village called Yapunda, and is severely endangered, with approximately 100 speakers. The youngest generation speaks only Tok Pisin, and speakers under 40 often speak a simplified variety of the language. [more]

Documentation of Bena Bena

In this project we aim at an encompassing audio-visual documentation of the Bena Bena language, a Papuan language of the Gorokan language family spoken in the Eastern Highland Province of Papua New Guinea and culture.

Despite a fair number of speakers the Bena Bena language is to be regarded as a highly endangered language, because the younger generations prefer speaking Tok Pisin, the lingua franca of Papua New Guinea.The audio-visual documentation focuses on crucial aspects of Bena Bena culture like material culture, reciprocity and exchange practices, social relationships, person and identity, that is, how these concepts manifest themselves in culture and language.In cooperation with the community of Napamogona we are working on a Bena Bena dictionary (also available as a smartphone app) as well as a grammar of the language.We cooperate with members of the ANU (Prof. Nicholas Evans, Prof. Alan Rumsey), the Cairns Institute (Prof. Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald), The Univesity of Goroka (Department of Languages and Literature and the Media Department, Dr. Verena Thomas).

Documentation of Ternate Malay

Ternate Malay is the indigenous Malay dialect of the Island Ternate. [more]

Documentation of the Tlapanec language

Since 1991 I have been describing different aspects of the grammar of the Otomanguean language Tlapanec as spoken in Azoyú (Guerrero, southern Mexico). It is a complicated tonal language with unusual features of reference-tracking, case marking, and inflectional morphology. [more]

Inheritance and contact in a language complex: the case of Taa varieties (Tuu family)

Descriptive linguistic content is still usually presented in book form. This project explores ways how descriptive grammars can be published on the Internet. In a trivial sense, this can be made by publishing a pdf on the author's homepage. [more]

Language Contact in Indonesia

Nearly 800 languages are spoken in Indonesia, in addition to Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia), the national language. The great majority of Indonesians are therefore proficient in at least two languages, their local home language and Indonesian. This makes Indonesia an ideal location in which to study language contact. [more]

Language documentation of Ghulfan (Kordofan-Nubian language in Sudan)

This is a joint language documentation project with Robert S. Williams (The American University in Cairo) and Angelika Jakobi (U Bayreuth). Ghulfan belongs to a group of fairly underdocumented languages of the people in the Nuba mountains in Southern Sudan. The project goal is a full description of all aspects of the grammar, including documentation of all main text genres.

Linguistic Field Work in Riau Province, Indonesia

When I first travelled to Riau province in Indonesia, all I knew about the region was what I had read in one place or another. The population was reported to be mostly ethnically Malay: for example, the Routledge atlas paints the entire province in a solid homogeneous yellow, standing for Malay. And the local dialect, together with that of the neighbouring Malaysian province of Johor, was reputed to be that which formed the basis for the standardization of Malay/Indonesian, the so-called "Johor-Riau Malay". [more]

The Javanese Dialect Mapping Project

The Javanese dialect mapping project aims to collect, document, and analyze various aspects of a number of Javanese dialects. Focus is given to in depth, naturalistic speech recordings, with the addition of word lists and elicitations. As part of the project, we are ‘debunking’ the myth of a ‘standard’ Javanese, based on the Surakarta and Yogyakarta varieties. [more]

The Kalahari Basin area: a 'Sprachbund' on the verge of extinction

The KBA project attempts to untangle some aspects of the complex linguistic and population history of the southern African groups speaking languages other than from the Bantu family. These are commonly subsumed under the unsubstantiated concept of a “Khoisan” family but might turn out to share certain traits because of convergence processes within a geographical area. The project will pursue a two-tiered approach, investigating southern Africa as a linguistic area from a broad perspective as well as offering fine-scaled studies of individual contact situations. The overall approach is a multidisciplinary one in involving linguists, molecular anthropologists and social anthropologists. [more]

Documentation of N!aqriaxe with a focus on contact influence

The purpose of this project is to document the highly endangered language N!aqriaxe. It is spoken in the Kalahari region in southern Botswana in the Kweneng district. The 40 speakers of the language are still found in the villages of Motokwe, Khekhenye, Tswaane, Dutlwe and probably some others. Like other minority languages (especially those of Khoisan origin) in Botswana, and elsewhere in southern Africa, this language is in danger of becoming extinct; most N!aqriaxe-speakers are older than 50 years and do not pass their language on to the younger members of the community. [more]

A Grammar of Kakua: A Language of Northwest Amazonia

Kakua is a language spoken in northwestern Amazonia, in the Vaupés region of eastern Colombia, between the Vaupés and Papurí Rivers. It is spoken by less than 200 people with a strong hunter-gatherer orientation. [more]

A Grammar of Haruai

After a break of over 25 years, Comrie has returned to his work on the Haruai language of the Papua New Guinea Highlands. The main product will be a grammar of the language, co-authored with John Davies (SIL International). [more]