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UFSP Sprache und Raum Sprache und Raum Lab

Distribution of Dogon Languages

Motivation and goal: The Dogon language family, which consists of some 20 languages, is distributed over an area the size of Switzerland and is located in Mali along the border of Burkina Faso. On the one hand, Dogon languages have not yet been fitted into the puzzle of African languages. On the other hand, they represent a complex spatial pattern of linguistic diversity along a large and often impenetrable natural cliff (the Bandiagara). The goal of this project is to quantify the influence of the Bandiagara and to test if accessibility can account for some of the unexplained linguistic features such as extensive lexical borrowing.

Dogon languages
Some Dogon languages (dots) connected by least cost paths. Basemap: SRTM Elevation Model

Cooperation: General Linguistics Group at the University of Zurich, represented by Dr Steven Moran and Prof. Balthasar Bickel

State and Outcome: A R toolbox, that enables automatic comparisons between different distance measures and linguistic similarities on a global and local level, is completed. The list of distance measures includes Euclidean Distance, Least Cost Paths, and horizontal/vertical distances.