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URPP Language and Space Language and Space Lab

Space, the environment and language evolution

In this project we explore the complex relationship between language evolution, the environment and space.

How does the physical environment affect language density?

Environmental factors, such as rainfall or temperature, affect language density. Regions with favorable climate and sufficient rainfall sustain more languages than expected by chance. This effect is stronger for societies engaging in agriculture than it is for hunter-gatherers. Learn more about this correlation in this recent article in xyz.

Language density for hunter-gatherers (HG) and food-producers (FP)

Do language, culture and genes co-evolve in space?

We study the variation in grammar, phonology, music and genes across language families in thirteen north-east Asian societies. We find that grammatical structure is likely to be one of the strongest cultural indicators of human population history. Read more in this recently published paper by Matsumae, Savage, Ranacher 2019 > Link

Geographical locations of the thirteen societies in north-east Asia