This project seeks to answer the riddle of why the world has so many languages (over 6,000), particularly in areas like New Guinea or indigenous Australia with hundreds of small languages. It hypothesises that exuberant linguistic diversification results from greater differences between how individuals speak in smallscale societies than in larger-scale ones. We will test this by matched case studies on languages from Arnhem Land, PNG and Vanuatu. The result will give insight into the paradox of why as a species we have so frequently evolved languages that limit who we can communicate with, and into the role of variability in maintaining or eroding the linguistic traditions of local communities.
|Effective start/end date||30/06/14 → 23/10/19|
- Australian Research Council (ARC): AUD3,163,657.00
- Australian National University (ANU): AUD125,000.00