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Grambank reveals the importance of genealogical constraints on linguistic diversity and highlights the impact of language loss.

Published version
Peer-reviewed

Repository DOI


Type

Article

Change log

Authors

Hammarström, Harald 
Collins, Jeremy 

Abstract

While global patterns of human genetic diversity are increasingly well characterized, the diversity of human languages remains less systematically described. Here, we outline the Grambank database. With over 400,000 data points and 2400 languages, Grambank is the largest comparative grammatical database available. The comprehensiveness of Grambank allows us to quantify the relative effects of genealogical inheritance and geographic proximity on the structural diversity of the world's languages, evaluate constraints on linguistic diversity, and identify the world's most unusual languages. An analysis of the consequences of language loss reveals that the reduction in diversity will be strikingly uneven across the major linguistic regions of the world. Without sustained efforts to document and revitalize endangered languages, our linguistic window into human history, cognition, and culture will be seriously fragmented.

Description

Keywords

Humans, Language, Linguistics, Cognition, Databases, Factual

Journal Title

Sci Adv

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

2375-2548
2375-2548

Volume Title

9

Publisher

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Sponsorship
European Research Council (646612)