Ethnologue

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Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web-based publication that contains statistics for 7,105 languages and dialects in the 17th edition, released in 2013.[1] Up until the 16th edition in 2009, the publication was a printed volume. Ethnologue provides information on the number of speakers, location, dialects, linguistic affiliations, availability of the Bible in the language, and an estimate of language viability using EGIDS.[2] As of July 2013, it is the most comprehensive and accessible language catalog, although some information is dated or spurious. A project with similar goals that is still in development is the Linguasphere Observatory Register.

William Bright, then editor of Language: Journal of the Linguistic Society of America, wrote of Ethnologue that it "is indispensable for any reference shelf on the languages of the world."[3] According to Ole Stig Andersen on Danmarks Radio, although "Ethnologue has grown to become the world's most complete and authoritative survey of the world's languages," the data has many errors.[4] For example, cross-references can link to the wrong ISO 639 codes, while the family trees are generated automatically, resulting in problematic cladistic cascades that may distort language relationships.

Overview[edit]

The Ethnologue is published by SIL International (formerly known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics), a Christian linguistic service organization, which studies numerous minority languages, to facilitate language development and to work with the speakers of such language communities to translate portions of the Bible in their language.

In 1984, the Ethnologue released a three-letter coding system, called an "SIL code", to identify each language that it describes. This set of codes significantly exceeded the scope of previous standards, e.g., ISO 639-1. The 14th edition, published in 2000, included 7148 language codes which generally did not match the ISO 639-2 codes. In 2002 the Ethnologue was asked to work with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to integrate its codes into a draft international standard. The Ethnologue now uses this standard, called ISO 639-3.[5] The 15th edition, which was published in 2005, includes 7299 codes. A 16th edition was released in the middle of 2009, and a 17th in 2013.

What counts as a language depends on socio-linguistic evaluation: see Dialect. As the preface says, "Not all scholars share the same set of criteria for what constitutes a 'language' and what features define a 'dialect.'" Ethnologue follows the criteria used by ISO 639-3,[6] which are based primarily on mutual intelligibility. Shared language intelligibility features are complex, and usually include etymological and grammatical evidence agreed upon by experts. Typological analysis of language leads experts to generally agree (or not) on some language relationships. If new supporting expert evidence for a language is found and the Ethnologue editors receive the information, they may reclassify a language, changing its identifiers. The ISO classification decisions are made by a different process and team.

In addition to choosing a primary name for the language, Ethnologue also gives some of the names by which a language is referred to by its speakers, by governments, by foreigners and by neighbors, as well as how it has been named and referenced historically, regardless of which designation is considered official, politically correct or offensive. Naming of a people by external groups remains controversial.

Editions[edit]

New editions of Ethnologue are published approximately every four years. The publishing history is as follows:[7]

EditionDateEditorNotes
11951Richard S. Pittman10 pages, mimeographed
21951Pittman
31952Pittman
41953Pittman
51958Pittmanfirst edition in book format
61965Pittman
71969Pittman4,493 languages
81974Barbara Grimes
91978Grimes
101984GrimesSIL codes first included
111988Grimes
121992Grimes
131996Grimes
142000Grimes6,809 languages
152005Raymond G. Gordon, Jr.6,912 languages; draft ISO standard
162009M. Paul Lewis6,909 languages
172013Lewis, Simons, & Fennig7,105 living languages

Language families[edit]

Ethnologue classification is based on Bright (1992),[8] but has evolved with input from many individual researchers. The information on classification in the individual language articles is based on this information. However, the family trees are computer-generated and strongly dependent on consistency in the formatting of the classification data; consequently they are inconsistent and frequently show spurious groupings.

Following are the 225 language families (including 95 language isolates) and 6 typological categories listed in the Ethnologue language family index of the 17th edition.[9] The first column gives the Ethnologue name for the group, followed by the location by continent and Ethnologue's count of the number of languages in the family.[9]

FamilyContinentCount
Afro-AsiaticAfrica/Asia374
AlgicNorth America42
AltaicEurope/Asia65
Amto-MusanOceania2
AndamaneseAsia14
ArafundiOceania3
Arai (Left May)Oceania6
ArauanSouth America5
AustralianOceania299
Austro-AsiaticAsia170
AustronesianAsia/Oceania1253
AymaranSouth America3
BarbacoanSouth America4
Bayono-AwbonoOceania2
BorderOceania15
BororoanSouth America3
BotocudoanSouth America1
CaddoanNorth America5
CahuapananSouth America2
CaribanSouth America32
Central SolomonsOceania4
ChapacuranSouth America5
ChibchanSouth America20
ChimakuanNorth America1
ChinookanNorth America2
Chipaya-UruSouth America2
ChocoanSouth America8
CholonanSouth America2
ChonSouth America2
Chukotko-KamchatkanAsia5
ChumashanNorth America6
Cochimí-YumanNorth America9
CoosanNorth America1
DravidianAsia85
East Bird’s Head-SentaniOceania8
East Geelvink BayOceania12
East New BritainOceania7
Eastern Trans-FlyOceania4
Eskimo-AleutNorth America11
Eyak-AthabaskanNorth America43
FasOceania2
GuajiboanSouth America5
GuaykuruanSouth America5
HaidaNorth America2
HarákmbutSouth America2
Hmong-MienAsia38
HuaveanNorth America4
Indo-EuropeanEurope/Asia443
IroquoianNorth America9
JabutianSouth America2
JaponicAsia12
JeanSouth America16
JicaqueanNorth America1
JivaroanSouth America4
KamakananSouth America1
KarajáSouth America1
KartvelianAsia5
KatukinanSouth America2
KaureOceania4
KaweskaranSouth America2
KeresanNorth America2
KhoisanAfrica28
Kiowa-TanoanNorth America5
KwomtariOceania3
Lakes PlainOceania20
LencanNorth America1
Lower MamberamoOceania2
MaiduanNorth America4
MaipureanSouth America60
MairasiOceania3
MapudunguSouth America2
MascoyanSouth America5
MatacoanSouth America7
MaxakalianSouth America2
MayanNorth America31
MaybratOceania2
MisumalpanNorth America5
Miwok-CostanoanNorth America8
Mixe-ZoqueanNorth America17
Mongol-LangamOceania3
MosetenanSouth America1
MuranSouth America1
MuskogeanNorth America6
NambiquaranSouth America6
Niger-CongoAfrica1539
Nilo-SaharanAfrica205
NimboranOceania5
North BougainvilleOceania4
North CaucasianEurope34
OtomangueanNorth America177
PaezanSouth America8
PalaihnihanNorth America2
PanoanSouth America27
PauwasiOceania5
PiawiOceania2
PomoanNorth America7
PuinaveanSouth America7
PurianSouth America2
QuechuanSouth America46
Ramu-Lower SepikOceania32
SahaptianNorth America5
SalishNorth America26
SálivanSouth America3
SenagiOceania2
SepikOceania55
Sino-TibetanAsia460
Siouan-CatawbanNorth America14
SkouOceania8
SomahaiOceania2
South BougainvilleOceania9
South-Central PapuanOceania22
TacananSouth America6
Tai-KadaiAsia95
TakelmanNorth America1
TarascanNorth America2
TequistlatecanNorth America2
TiniguanSouth America1
Tor-KwerbaOceania24
TorricelliOceania57
TotonacanNorth America12
Trans-New GuineaOceania481
TsimshianNorth America3
TucanoanSouth America25
TupianSouth America75
UralicEurope/Asia38
Uto-AztecanNorth America61
WakashanNorth America6
West PapuanOceania23
WintuanNorth America3
WitotoanSouth America7
YaguanSouth America2
YanomamanSouth America4
Yele-West New BritainOceania3
YeniseianAsia2
YokutsanNorth America1
YuatOceania6
YukaghirAsia2
YukianNorth America2
ZamucoanSouth America2
ZaparoanSouth America5
83 other language isolates83
Typological groupCount
Deaf sign language137
Creole93
Pidgin17
Mixed language23
Constructed language1
OtherCount
Unclassified65

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ethnologue 17th edition website
  2. ^ Lewis, M. Paul & Gary F. Simons. 2010. Assessing Endangerment: Expanding Fishman’s GIDS. Revue Roumaine de linguistique 55(2). 103–120. Online version
  3. ^ Bright, William. 1986. "Book Notice on Ethnologue", Language 62:698.
  4. ^ Review of the 15th edition, by Ole Stig Andersen (Danmarks Radio)
  5. ^ Simons, Gary F.; Gordon, Raymond G. (2006). "Ethnologue". In Brown, Edward Kenneth. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics 4 (2nd ed.). Elsevier. pp. 250–253. ISBN 978-0-08-044299-0.  (preprint)
  6. ^ "Scope of denotation for language identifiers". SIL International. Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  7. ^ History of the Ethnologue
  8. ^ Bright, William (ed.), 1992, Oxford international encyclopedia of linguistics, vol. 1–4. Oxford University Press.
  9. ^ a b Browse by Language Family

External links[edit]