Day: October 1, 2012

MultiTree Project in Bloom

An impressive fourty-four new trees were added to the MultiTree database this summer, from language groupings including SinoTibetan, Niger-Congo, Khoisan, Tai-Kadai, Trans New Guinea, Austronesian, Indo-European, and language families in the Americas. The details of the new trees are given below, with comments from Monica Lesher, one of the summer interns who worked on the MultiTree project. 


Four trees from Edward Sapir were added to the MultiTree repository. Sapir represents an early generation of language classification and published countless works on historical linguistics and classification from the early to mid-20th century. While his conclusions in the classification of indigenous languages of the Americas are not completely accepted today,  his work was a big step forward in the study of American indigenous languages.

Algonkin-Wakashan: Sapir 1968

Aztec-Tanoan: Sapir 1949

Penutian: Sapir 1949

Hokan-Siouan: Sapir 1949

All of the following trees correspond to a map published in 1937 by Segun Krickeberg, under the direction of Wigberto Jimenez Moreno. This map portrays Jimenez Moreno’s classification of languages of South America, as well as those he considered to be isolates. Jimenez Moreno is well-known as an early scholar of indigenous languages of the Americas. (A corresponding LL-MAP map is in the works.)

Aruacana: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Aimara: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Araguaco: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Caribe: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Charrua: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Chibcha: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Diaguita: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Ges: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Guaycuru: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Pano: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Quechua: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Puelche: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Tehuelche: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Tucano: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Tupi-Guarani: Krickeberg & Jimenez Moreno 1937

Lyle Campbell and Veronica Grondona are very well known for their work on indigenous languages of the Americas. The following Chibchan tree is the first from one of their most recent works, and it was begun while the source was still in preparation (used with permission of the authors).

Chibchan: Campbell, Grondona 2012


Several trees for Asian language groups were completed.

Sino-Tibetan: Shaffer 1955

A tree of Chinese dialects was created from a massive work on the dialects of Chinese languages by Wurm and Yongquan:.

Chinese (dialects): Wurm, Yongquan 1987

David Bradley is an editor of the section of Atlas of the World’s Languages titled “East and South-East Asia.” This source is exceptionally detailed and researched, and it outlines not just Bradley and Alan Sanders’ (another contributor to the section) classification, but also many alternative classifications of languages of the Mon-Khmer family. 

Mon-Khmer: Bradley 2007

The Sino-Tibetan tree from “East and South-East Asia” in the Atlas of World Languages was also created. David Bradley and Alan Sanders are the contributors in this section, and this particular article is extremely in-depth and well-researched.

Sino-Tibetan: Bradley 2007

Austro-Thai: Benedict 1975

George Grierson’s Linguistic Survey of India was without a doubt the first major documentation of the peoples and languages of then-British territory India. Finished in 1891 and published shortly thereafter, Grierson’s work, while far from what most scholars today would call linguistically accurate, was conducted at a time when linguistics was not itself considered a field of study apart from anthropology. A linguistic study of this kind was scarce at the time of its publication, and it is quite impressive with its minute details and in-depth analysis of the Indian cultures and languages of the late 19th century. (Note: There are 32 maps in LL-MAP that correspond to this tree. Each map is linked in its credits to the tree in MultiTree and can be found in LL-MAP by searching for “Linguistic Survey of India.”)

Aryan (subtree of Indo-European): Grierson 1903 (Linguistics Survey of India)

Mon-Khmer, subtree of Austro-Asiatic: Thomas 1966

Two Tai-Kadai hypotheses were added as trees:

Tai-Kadai: Diller 2008 (Diller  is an authority on Tai-Kadai languages and was in correspondence with Calvin Cheng , the intern who made this tree.)

Tai-Kadai: Ethnologue 2009