New Reading Group: RULGr

Tlingit Totem

Ryan Denzer-King has organized a new reading group dedicated to understudied languages.  He describes the reading group and its goals below.  Their first meeting, a joint venture with ST@R will take place on Friday, February 19, and will discuss Seth Cable’s paper on pied-piping, based on data from Tlingit.

The goal of the Rutgers Understudied Languages Group (RULGr) is to promote the study of languages whose documentation and analysis has been historically neglected. Such languages are typically minority and indigenous languages, which often have been displaced or threatened by culturally dominant languages such as English, Spanish, French, and Russian.

The scope of the group (as per the knowledge of its members) includes languages of North America, South America, Africa, and Asia. Because these languages are threatened, their documentation and analysis is especially important if linguists are to know the full diversity of human languages. Understudied languages often differ in striking and fascinating ways from more commonly spoken ones. Many of these languages are spoken by fewer than 1000 people, whereas 2.2 billion people have an Indo-European language as their native language, with another 1.1 billion speaking a Sino-Tibetan language; these 36 languages, about .5% of the world’s linguistic diversity, account for 50% of the world’s population. RULGr seeks to encourage research on and analysis of such languages, which can have interesting implications for linguistic theory.

If you are interested in learning more about RULGr, visit the group’s website at http://sites.google.com/site/rurulgr/ or contact Ryan Denzer-King.

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