Author Topic: List of all languages with descriptive grammars?  (Read 2697 times)

Offline Daniel

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List of all languages with descriptive grammars?
« on: December 17, 2013, 09:48:49 PM »
For my research I've found myself just skimming through grammars hoping to find relevant information. And that works fine if I'm just looking at what's available in the library at my university, etc. But I'd like to at least be aware of more systematic ways of doing this.

So I have two questions:
1. Is there a really good list of all of the languages (and language families) in the world? Is there something I could use as a sort of checklist to be sure I've covered a wide variety of linguistic diversity?
2. Is there a comprehensive list of all grammars written for less known languages? This one is sometimes more challenging.


As somewhere to start, I often use:

WALS: The World Atlas of Language Structures
Unfortunately it's far from complete and more useful when looking for broad comparisons rather than actually seeking specific languages. The references usually do include good descriptive grammars, though.

Ethnologue: a good list of information about many languages including location, population, official status, language use (and predicted future use), and some references.

But is there anything out there that is specifically meant for linguists looking for a list of every language that has had a grammar written about it? I'd also appreciate some information about which grammars are good (thorough, relatively well written, modern).

Likewise, actually it would be good to have the complementary list with every language that hasn't been described for field workers seeking languages.

I realize this information is a lot to organize, but it would be very useful.
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Offline freknu

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Re: List of all languages with descriptive grammars?
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2013, 11:52:14 PM »
Linguasphere? You could also try the Rosetta Stone Project.

Offline Daniel

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Re: List of all languages with descriptive grammars?
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2013, 12:14:50 AM »
Linguasphere? I'll check it out.

Rosetta Stone Project? Doesn't that have very limited data available? Or have you found the sources (from which the data was gathered) to be useful?

Thanks for the ideas.
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Offline freknu

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Re: List of all languages with descriptive grammars?
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2013, 01:55:32 AM »
For Linguasphere I recommend their PDFs: http://www.linguasphere.info/lcontao/fichier-pdf.html

The RSP is usually limited, but it might come in handy. When it comes to actual grammar I don't really have any resources, so this is mostly info on existing languages.

Offline IronMike

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Re: List of all languages with descriptive grammars?
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2014, 10:18:00 AM »
I think it is called Rosetta Project vice Rosetta Stone Project, yes?
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Offline zaba

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Re: List of all languages with descriptive grammars?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2014, 01:54:05 AM »
I think the Ethnologue is a good place to start because it usually gives an overview of the literature of a given language, even the lesser-known SIL off-prints.

Offline isauk

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Re: List of all languages with descriptive grammars?
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2014, 07:57:27 AM »
i've never found any such list, and it would be nice if someone were to make one. even just a list of languages/families (as you ask about in your first question) is something not easily come across. i personally have found wikipedia to be the most helpful (WALS doesn't come close to having all of the languages, and ethnologue i never use because i don't like how it organizes information), but even then wikipedia is only so good.

as for a list of grammars, that would be a daunting challenge to create such a thing. in my own studies i've put a lot of focus on north america, and fortunately there's a lot of information on those languages in terms of which ones were never documented. and of course for some languages (like navajo) the number of grammars is through the roof, and so a list of the grammars on it would practically be a book itself. -- the real problem is with the languages/families that are supposedly documented (or in some cases, supposedly still being spoken) but which it's impossible to find any information on. i come across lots of little side notes that say things like "according to such and such, whose works have never been published". i've done lots of unsuccessful searches on ILL, and i suspect that there are many books throughout libraries that you just can't access that way. it's frustrating when an author gives you a tiny taste of information, but their citation is no help in finding the rest of it. i don't know where they find this stuff.

the above is just about north america. i think if you tried finding information about south america or new guinea in this way, you'd find yourself screwed. when i've tried getting information on papuan languages, for example, i've taken what i can get (mostly in the form of works that tackle multiple languages at once). still,, some information is better than none. if you were to take on the task of trying to create such a list yourself, i think that would be a really valuable resource you'd be creating. the book "the languages of native north america" by marianne mithun has an extremely comprehensive bibliography. so,, that would be a good start., for that continent at least. i'm sure (most of) eurasia would be comparatively easy too (though you'd want to remember to include ancient languages).


Offline zaba

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Re: List of all languages with descriptive grammars?
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2014, 08:27:03 AM »
Quote
ethnologue i never use because i don't like how it organizes information

too bad for you! it's a great resource and much better (at least with South Amer languages) than wikipedia

Offline panini

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Re: List of all languages with descriptive grammars?
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2015, 01:21:08 PM »
The best resource that I know of is glottolog.org. The only problem is digging down to the language you're looking for. It's organized by assumed historical subgrouping so you can get materials for close relatives, if your language is essentially undescribed.

Offline Daniel

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Re: List of all languages with descriptive grammars?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2015, 09:29:22 AM »
I've actually been using glottolog quite a bit lately and it's very helpful because it has a fairly extensive list of sources for thousands of languages. But it is very hard to navigate and it also doesn't give any information about which sources are good or most commonly used. Of course having all of the available sources is useful, but I usually just end up looking at the dates and find the most recent relatively long description and hope that's ok.
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