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"One thousand different words for water", with Simon Greenhill

Date: 30 October 2015

Emily Underwood:

New Guinea is one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world, with more than 1000 distinct languages crammed into an area not much larger than the state of Texas. Despite this rich variety—for comparison, Europe contains about 280 languages—linguists have only analyzed the grammatical structures of a fraction of the South Pacific island's languages. Now, Simon Greenhill, a linguist at Australian National University in Canberra, is trying to remedy that situation, by gathering together hundreds of thousands of words from published surveys, book chapters, and articles, as well as the accounts of early European explorers, and putting them into an online database called

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  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University