Descriptive status of the world's languages

David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Sun Dec 4 11:28:36 UTC 2011

Dear all,

I was about to make more or less the same point that Sebastian makes in 
his first sentence (below).

It is not clear to me whether it is either desirable or feasible to 
distinguish between "typological" and other "non-typological" studies.  
It seems to me that the right response to Wolfgang's question is that 
adopted by the Glottolog/Langdoc project (and I say this not because I 
have the good fortune of sharing an office with Sebastian).


Sebastian Nordhoff wrote:
> Dear all,
> it might be difficult to know how languages fare in 'typology', since 
> it is not clear which works would be part of 'typology'. Is a 
> generative comparison between Tamil and Icelandic already 'typology'?
> The Glottolog/Langdoc project casts a wider net and looks at the 
> general descriptive status of the world's languages.We have collected 
> about 200k bibliographical records for descriptive/'typological' 
> literature. This is a large collection but still opportunistic: we 
> have good coverage of Africa and South America thanks to Youni Maho 
> and Alain Fabre; the rest of the world is less well covered. The 
> distribution of works is given below.
> I am not sure how this relates to Wolfgang's question, but I am sure 
> that some of you will find the numbers below interesting
> Sebastian

David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
Email: gil at

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