Chapter 16: Student Resources

16.1 Survey of the World's languages

This section presents an alternative to §16.3 ‘Six major families and one disputed family’. It provides a regionally based overview of the world’s language families, covering each of the inhabited continents. For internal coherence it repeats the information given in the book section on the six major families. In addition, some of the information in the printed version of the book is updated. Omitted from the survey are pidgins, creoles and mixed languages, on which see §16.4 of the book.

16.2 Links

Linguistic diversity of the world

Ethnologue: Languages of the World, currently in its eighteenth edition and published by SIL International, is intended to provide a comprehensive listing the known living languages of the world. It provides basic information on the languages, including alternative names and spellings of the names, numbers and locations of speakers, main references and family membership. This information is of varying degrees of reliability, depending on the information available on the language, and what is conveyed to the editor by experts. The seventeenth edition is now available in print in the form of three volumes — click here for details. (Note that this information updates information on p.405 of the textbook.)

Also relevant are two websites mentioned in the pages for Chapter 14, World Atlas of Language Structures and Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language Structures Online.


Khinalug 2007: creating a digital portrait of an endangered language is a 20 minute video that provides some idea of what it is like to do fieldwork on an endangered language.