Typology/Areal Studies

ASLAN is actively involved in gathering and analyzing typological data, with a very strong focus in the domain of fieldwork on poorly documented and/or highly endangered languages. The covered areas include (but are not limited to) Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and South-America. Data is gathered through socio-linguistic fieldwork and analyzed through methods of linguistic qualitative analyses. It aims to (1) document Endangered languages, (2) produce descriptions and grammars of unknown or undescribed languages that can contribute to our knowledge of language diversity, (3) provide new data for typological studies.

Computational modeling and simulations can also be used to infer the synchronic patterns and evolutionary dynamics of language. Both of these analyses can be conducted language internally and across languages. Moreover, the fieldwork data also provides a solid basis to explain the interaction of speakers in a multilingual context and to run computer simulations for designing and testing computational model of human interaction and language evolution.


The work of ASLAN relates to linguistic changes in language evolution for topics such as syntax, lexicon, and morphology. The study of the genealogy of languages through methods of historical reconstruction and phylogenetics is one of the main topics. For instance, the researchers at ASLAN are interested in reconstructing the evolution of different langage families. Moreover, the diachrony (long and short terms) of discourse practices in written and oral formats is also covered by ASLAN. In those studies, quantitative corpus methods are used to investigate the diachronic patterns of grammatical structures within a language. Finally, the methods used during the collection and encoding of data are also used to conduct analyses of information flow (trace).

Usage-informed linguistic description

Corpora of language in use have been built for a variety of purposes: description of under described languages, descriptions of specific speech situations, descriptions of particular types of linguistic interactions, and descriptions of multilingual speech situations. Description of under described languages is a core thematic, with a major objective being the publication of reference grammars. One key aspect of these studies lies in the grounding of the description in a corpus of natural texts collected in the field with a variety of speakers representative of the community and its speech practices. On the basis of these corpora, various aspects of the languages are described: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics. Corpus linguistic methods can be used to extract various traces and patterns during language production. As an example, the automatic detection of emotion in corpora can provide a psychological aspect to linguistic analyses. Traces of encoding corpora and writing grammars can also be used as a source of information for pedagogical and learning information. Moreover, the interaction between language and human cognition can also be investigated through the use of corpora. The language use across different types of speakers across different genres and environmental settings can also be analyzed.

Projects (ASLAN 1) : Men'Hir, PROJECTOIRE