Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2005 18:40:01 +0200 (MEST) From: Harald Hammarström Subject: Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 15th edition
EDITOR: Gordon, Raymond J. TITLE: Ethnologue SUBTITLE: Languages of the World EDITION: 15 PUBLISHER: SIL International YEAR: 2005
Harald Hammarström, Department of Computing Science, Chalmers University of Technology
The Ethnologue (2005) is the 15th edition of the SIL International effort to gather a catalogue of all the living languages of the world. The hardbound 1272-page volume is organized as follows: Introduction 7-14 Statistical Summaries 15-36 Languages of the World 37-648 References 649-672 Language Maps 673-888 Indexes 889-1272
I will concentrate on the bulk of the work, i.e. the language entries and information about them in the introduction. Inasmuch as they are correct there is not much for a linguist to say about the statistical summaries, maps and indexes (except that the maps, in colour, look great and will be very useful). The first edition of the Ethnologue came out in 1951 and had information on 46 languages. This 15th edition sports 7299 language entries and the system of (lowercase) three-letter identifiers for each language entry is now a draft ISO/DIS 639-3 standard. All the information in the book version is also available free of charge on the web http://www.ethnologue.com which greatly facilitates access and searchability. SIL deserve a huge thank you for posting the web edition, which will doubtlessly also increase the outreach of Ethnologue.
1. COVERAGE. Out of the 7299 entries, 6912 represent living languages. "Living" means "definitely having native speakers" so e.g. Latin is not counted as living and there are another 27 'second language only'/'no data' entries. Most of the remaining 360 extinct languages represent languages which have died relatively recently (say within the last 100 years). Ethnologue does not aim to catalogue all dead languages, so even well-attested ones like Timucua (Granberry 1993) or Akkadian (Ungnad 1964) are missing. However, a selection of ancient extinct languages are still listed (such as Ge'ez and Coptic), perhaps those which have a bible translation. Likewise, there is no aim towards completeness as to relatively recently extinct languages either, whether poorly attested or well-attested. Consequently one can find literally hundreds of extinct New World languages and languages families in the lists of (Campbell 1997; Landar 1996; Adelaar 2004; Kaufman 1994; Fabre 2005; Garza Cuarón and Lastra 1991) that are not in Ethnologue. As plenty of extinct languages are not listed, their respective family trees silently appear without these branches (e.g. Ethnologue's Semitic is listed without its East Semitic branch consisting of the long dead Eblaite and Akkadian (Faber 1997)).
The 6912 living languages include 124 living sign languages, 1 living artificial language and 5 living pidgins (namely hmo, chn, nef, lir, cpi despite the standard definition of pidgins as having no native speakers (Bakker 2002, p. 7). Since Ethnologue admits (p. 13) that the inventory of pidgins-jargons-special languages, e.g. sorcerers' languages, is not complete there may well exist more of this kind.
Ethnologue commendably includes known unknown languages, i.e. where there are speakers known to exist who presumably speak something but, since they are not in contact, we don't know what. Examples of these are Sentinelese of the Andamans (Abbi 2004; Shashi 1994), Uru-Pa-In (Angenot-de-Lima 2002, p. 38) of Brazil, Yarí (Adelaar 2004, p. 624) of Colombia. Carabayo seems to be a case where the group's 3 houses are known from airplane observations. Another five Brazilian languages I know of only from the Ethnologue: Himarimã, Iapama, Karahawyana, Kohoroxitari and Papavô.
1.1 UNLISTED LANGUAGES. Four quite solidly extant Brazilian languages are missing: Máku is still reported to have 1 speaker (Rodrigues 2005; Seki 1999; Migliazza 1985, pp. 37, 280, 52). Kwazá and Aikanã are excellently discussed in the introduction of van der Voort (2000). The isolate Kanoê is not the Tupi Kanoé [kxo] or the [kxo] entry is quite erroneous, see p. 23-24 of Bacelar (2004).
Adelaar (2004, 164) mentions another three living South American languages that are missing: Pisamira, Nonuya and Yurí. He also sheds light on a couple of languages which can be presumed extinct on good grounds but which do not have entries (as living or dead) in the Ethnologue: Opón- Carare (5 speakers in 1944) (p. 114-115), Mochica (p. 172), some Tucanoan e.g. Coretú and Icaguate (p. 621) as well as Culli/Culle (p. 172-173).
In 2005, Roger Blench and associates have uncovered data from the Dogon Plateau of West Africa that prove the existence of several "new" languages, including one of unknown affiliation; manuscript sources (cited with permission) are available on his Dogon and other webpages http://homepage.ntlworld.com/roger_blench/Dogon/. Without doubt, there will be more "discoveries" in the future on the languages in Northern Nigeria and adjacent regions. Likewise, two Australian mixed languages have been brought to light (McConvell and Meakins 2005; O'Shannessy 2005) too recently to make it into Ethnologue.
1.2 SPURIOUS LANGUAGES. In a work of this size it's hard to completely exclude languages whose existence is really unsupported, such as Mutús of the 14th edition (which is now removed, see also Adelaar (2004, p. 125)).
Since Ethnologue does not systematically include attested extinct languages, the extinct unclassified Colombian languages Cagua, Chipiaje, Coxima and Natagaima look suspicious, especially since they not mentioned by by Adelaar or sources therein. Likewise, extinct unclassified Monimbo of Nicaragua is not to be found in Meso-American sourcebooks. These cases need of course not be spurious but their inclusion is highly arbitrary in the masses of extinct unclassified, better documented, South American languages that could have been taken up.
Pankararú [paz] and Pankararé [pax] are treated by most, e.g. Fabre (2005), as one extinct language isolate whereas Ethnologue has two entries, one extinct language isolate and one extinct unclassified.
Yauma is given in Ethnologue as an unclassified language of Angola. Nothing else suggests that this should be anything more exotic than a regular Bantu language. In fact it is explicitly listed as a Lucazi dialect in Fleisch (2000, p. 1).
For extinct languages which are really living or vice versa see the section below on speaker population. For languages that are better treated as dialects see the section below on languages and dialects.
2 LANGUAGES AND DIALECTS. 2.1 IN THEORY. The thoughts behind the Ethnologue language vs. dialect divisions are so important that I will quote the section (p. 8):
"Not all scholars share the same set of criteria for what constitutes a 'language' and what features define a 'dialect.' The Ethnologue applies the following three basic criteria: * Two related varieties are normally considered varieties of the same language if speakers of each variety have inherent understanding of the other variety at a functional level (that is, can understand based on knowledge of their own variety without needing to learn the other variety). * Where spoken intelligibility between varieties is marginal, the existence of a common literature or of a common ethnolinguistic identity with a central variety that both understand can be a strong indicator that they should nevertheless be considered varieties of the same language. * Where there is enough intelligibility between varieties to enable communication, the existence of well-established distinct ethnolinguistic identities can be a strong indicator that they should nevertheless be considered to be different languages."
The problem with the second and third is that we don't know what a "well- established ethnolinguistic identity" is. What would have been in order is: a few examples, a systematic indication of when which criteria have been utilized or else a rough indication of frequency of application. Unclear cases are noted sporadically in the comments to the individual entries in question but e.g. the latter criterion has obviously been applied without indication in cases like the division of Serbian-Croatian- Bosnian and Gitxsan-Nisga'a. Anyway, the bottom line is that little is won by trying to break intelligibility ties with criteria that introduce new ties.
The usage of the second criterion has some peculiar implications. If accepted, the language/dialect status of two languages A and B can no longer be established solely by inspection of all properties of A and B, but depends on the existence of a third variety C. For example, two Vulgar Latin dialects are one language as long as there is a Latin literature, but if the speakers of one dialect become illiterate or we eradicate all Latin writing, then they are perhaps two languages. Moreover, the number of languages of three such varieties depends on the distribution of the three over people. If they are distributed over two people, speaking A,C and B,C respectively then the three are one and the same language. If they are distributed over three people such that they all speak only one each, then the number of languages is 1-3 (arguably 2). Note that there is no inconsistency in the latter example. Is it perfectly possible for A and B to understand C, but not produce it, so that A and B could not communicate with each other alone. As a native Swedish speaker I can understand a lot of Danish, but I can't produce credible Danish.
Finally, in their present formulation, the application of the first and second criteria may lead to inconsistencies. Consider four varieties A,B,C,D such that they all have the same ethnolinguistic identity (e.g. Kurds), B and C have independent literatures (e.g. Sorani and Kurmanji Kurdish), B and C are mutually intelligible (according to some, Sorani and Kurmanji Kurdish are). Finally let A be mutually intelligible to B and marginally to C, and likewise D to be mutually intelligible to C and marginally to B. (It should be possible to find such Kurdish dialects.) Now, A and D are not mutually intelligible at all and therefore, by application of the first criterion, at least those two are separate languages. The second criteria does not apply because, between A and D, intelligibility is not even marginal. However, if we start by using the second criterion on A,B,C and on B,C,D, all four must be one and the same language.
A popular belief holds that one cannot count the number of languages by the mutual intelligibility criterion even if one sets an arbitrary definition for when mutual intelligibility holds (say 85% shared vocabulary) because of inconsistencies when applied to dialect continua. This view is premature, it is perfectly possible to do this in an intuitive way without any inconsistencies (Hammarström 2005).
2.2 IN PRACTICE. Many authors have noted the tendency of Ethnologue to be extreme 'splitters' i.e. to prefer to split speech varieties into distinct languages whenever possible. Middle American expert (Kaufman 1994, p. 33) writes condescendingly of the 11th edition of Ethnologue (Grimes 1988) suggesting the ratio 1:2 between 'reality' and Ethnologue (by argumentum ad his own auctoritatem). In a more well-argued manner, traversing handbooks area by area, the Africanist Maho (2004) finds 1441 living African languages versus 2058 in the 14th edition of Ethnologue (Grimes 2000); this 15th edition has 2092.
However, as Maho notes (p. 12), maybe the discrepancy is due rather to the handbooks and overviews being lumpers. For instance, Ethnologue splits into 31 English-based Creoles, 46 Quechua, 69 Mayan languages, 21 Gbe, 35 Arabic (+3 Arabic-based Creoles), 25 Naga, 26 Berber, 21 Manding, 9 Fulani but only one Hausa language -- whereas we are used to reading about these in one-liners rather than as full-fledged families.
Since this is quite an important question, I have made a dive into the specialist literature to compare the Ethnologue judgments. I think it's fair to say that, most of the time, Ethnologue is consistent with the specialists even where their sources must be independent. A lot of times Ethnologue counts more languages than the specialists -- sometimes wrongly, sometimes out of due caution. Less often, but still often, the specialists count more mutually unintelligible varieties than Ethnologue. Examples follow:
2.2.1 Ethnologue Undercounts. * Lauje [law] should be split in two (Himmelmann 2001, p. 21) ".. both Lauje and Ampibabo-Lauje speakers do not consider their speech varieties mutually intelligible". * Lenca is (or was) two languages and Xinca was more like four languages (Campbell 1997, p. 166-167). * Kilii Boni may be split from Boni (Heine 1982, p. 12). * Kamona may be split from Bijogo (Segerer 2002, p. 7) as Ethnologue admits. * Befang could be split into Bangui and Modele (Boum 1981, p. 19) on decent grounds. * Bade [bde] could be split following Schuh: "Bade is dialectally diverse, with some dialects differing enough from each other that one is tempted to call the distinct languages" (Schuh 2005, p. 1). * Panoan Katukína and Shanenawa are better treated as separate languages (Vieira Cândido 2004, p. 13). * Lemiting was distinct from Kiput (Blust 2003, p. 1). * Mambila could be split into more than 2 (Connell 2000, p. 202). * Tetun [tet] consists of two ".. virtually mutually untelligible" (van Engelehoven and van Klinken 2005, p. 735) dialects. See also (van Klinken 1999; Williams-van Klinken, Hajek, and Nordlinger 2002, p. 3, 6) and section 1.1 of (Williams-van Klinken, Hajek, and Nordlinger 2001).
2.2.2 Ethnologue Overcounts * Kanuri/Kanembu is 1 language rather than 4 (Cyffer 1998, p. 31). * Turkana is 1 language rather than 4 (Dimmendaal 1983, p. 2). * Batak should be 2 perhaps 3 languages rather than 7 (Woollams 2005, p. 535). * Adang and Hamap are the same: "Adang speakers and Hamap speakers always understand each other, when speaking their languages, though there are a few differences (mainly phonological) between the two" (Haan 2001, p. 5). * Many Australian, e.g. [piu], [pjt] and [kdd] are mutually intelligible varieties (Dixon 2002, p. 5). * Ibani [iby], Okrika [okr] and Kalabari [ijn] Ijo should be one language (Williamson 1969, p. 2) "These three dialects are ... mutually intelligible", instead of the confused [okr] and [ijn] as two separate languages of an [East, Ibani-Okrika-Kalabari] branch, and [iby] of an [Eastern, Northeastern, Ibani-Okrika-Kalabari] branch. * Cacua and Nukak as well as Huoda and Yuhup may be perhaps be merged (Andrade Martins 2004, p. 7). * Perhaps [nyn], [nyo] are the same [ttj] the same (Rubongoya 1999, p. xiii). * The division of Mumuye Proper into 5 languages is not supported by (Shimizu 1979, p. 11-19) but then Ethnologue lists several varieties that are not mentioned by Shimizu. * In MacKay (1999, p. 12) 4 rather than 8 Totonac languages are recognized. * The Bankon/Barombi split is ok but giving them as one language would also have been ok (Atindogbé 1996). * Northern (in Burkina Faso) and Southern (in Ghana) Dagaare are the same according to (Naden 1988, p. 42) "can understand each other without undue difficulty" and is not contradicted by the more recent source (Bodomo 2000). * Furthermore in Ghana, "there is mutual intelligibility between ..." (Dolphyne and Kropp Dakubu 1988, p. 54) Ahanta and Nzema and Nzema and Anyi. There is (Dolphyne and Kropp Dakubu 1988, p. 77) "considerable amount of mutual intelligibility" between Nchumbulu and Dwang. * As for the notoriously difficult !Kung dialect continuum, Maho (1998, p. 113) states that "They all speak ... mutually intelligible forms of speech". Both Maho's book and the volume (Haacke and Elderkin 1997) in which the dialect study by Snyman appealed to Maho appear in Ethnologue's references. * According to mutual intelligibility, there are only 3 Miao, 5 Bunu and 2 She languages (Bradley and Harlow 1994, p. 166). * The split of the Makhuwa languages looks to be out of due caution (Kisseberth 2003). * The split of Bima-Sumba languages looks to be out of due caution (Klamer 2005, p. 709). * Lampungic is better analyzed as 3 rather than 9 languages (Anderbeck 2005). * Peripheral and Khalkh Mongolian are intelligible (Svantesson 2003; Janhunen 2003a). The split into 3 Buryat languages must be due to partly extralinguistic criteria (Skribnik 2003).
2.2.3 Ethnologue is in Harmony * Good resolution of vexed Pashai dialect situation [aae, glh, psh, psi] (Bashir 2003, p. 826). * Zulgwa-Minew-Gemzek is one and the same [gnd] as judges (Barreteau 1984, p. 170). * Mekeo really is three languages, especially when takes cultural differences into account, although speakers can learn the understand the other dialects in less than a week's time (Jones 1998, p. 19). * The division of Eskimo accords well with (Fortescue 1984; Miyaoka 1996). * 4 Kham languages is a decent interpretation of (Watters 2002, p. 12-13). * Nyamwanga-Iwa and Lungu-Mambwe are recognized in accordance with (Walsh and Swilla 2000). * The Chinese Mongolian dialect situation is well-handled (Janhunen 2003b). * The heavy division of Banda receives support from detailed study of (Cloarec-Heiss 2000). * Two Araucanian languages is entirely accurate (Smeets 1989, p. 9-10). * 2 Slave languages is not contradicted by section 2.3 in (Rice 1989). * 8 Songhai is not a bad idea (Tersis 1972; Zima 1994; Heath 1999, p. 17,4,1). * Ekoti is justly a separate language (Schadeberg and Mucanheia 2000, p. 6). * Kilivila is fine (Lawton 1993, p. 6). * Treating Matses [mcf] and Matis [mpg] as two separate languages is good (Fleck 2003). * Ngoe languages are consistent with (Hedinger 1987, p. 27). * 2 Balanta languages is what (Wilson 1961, p. 139) postulates. * 21 Mano & Dan languages is not contradicted by (Becker-Donner 1965, p. 5). * 21 Gbe languages may be too much but not impossible (Lefebvre and Brousseau 2002; Capo 1990, p. 1-3,62). * 1 May Brat language is optimal (Philomena Hedwig 1999). * The Moken/Moklen division agrees with (Larish 2005, p. 514). * ...
3 LANGUAGE ENTRIES. Indexable by the three-letter identification code, language entries have the following main fields: Primary Name, Alternate Names, Speaker Population, Classification, and Location. I regard them as primary since they seem to be systematically indicated. The meaning and accuracy of the data in these fields is scrutinized below.
In addition, but not with complete systematicity, the following pieces of language information are usually given: dialect names, intelligibility degree/lexical similarity with some neighbouring language(s), language function(s) (e.g. official), language domain (e.g. liturgical), script, typological remarks (e.g. basic word order), publications and use in media (usually means presence of bible translation), status (e.g. extinct, second language only, jargon, language of herb doctors) and other remarks. Moreover, further information about the speakers is also usually supplied, such as degree of bilingualism, literacy, religion, attitude to language, means of subsistence (e.g. hunter-gatherers) and geo-ecological environment (e.g. rain forest).
This additional data is welcome to the reader but will not be reviewed here because it is not clear what the intended aim of coverage is. For instance, my computer calculations show that 2675 have religion annotated, 3730 language development, 4108 language use and 1097 basic word order, as follows: SOV 558 SVO 322 VSO 133 VOS 24 OSV 12 OVS 10 SVO/VSO 9 SOV/SVO 8 SVO/VOS 7 SOV/OVS 4 VSO/VOS 3 SOV/VOS 2 SOV/OSV 2 SVO/OVS 1 VOS/OSV1 SVO/VSO/VOS 1
However, these annotations are frequently partial and/or unsystematic and have little to do with availability of data. For instance, Tundra Yukaghir [ykg] is marked 'nontonal', whereas non-tonal Slovak [slk] and the 8-tone language Iau [tmu] (Bateman 1986) have no information about tone or other typological data.
3.1 PRIMARY AND ALTERNATE NAMES. Each entry is given a primary name which is usually an established name from the literature. This hardly ever coincides with the speakers' own name for the language (for an idea of the discrepancy, check e.g. Appleyard in Irvine (1994), but Ethnologue aims to set the primary name accordingly if there is a strong known desire (p. 10) from the speakers to rid an entrenched foreign or offensive name. Therefore, the Ethnologue has e.g. Tohono O'odham as primary name instead of Papago (Zepeda 1983), Shabo for Mikeyir (Teferra 1991, p. 371) and, more observantly than others, Nivaclé for Chulupí, Ashlushlay etc. But one has missed e.g. Nuuchanulth for Nootka (Nakayama 2001, p. 2) and Nivkh for Gilyak (Panfilov 1965).
The alternate names are some alternate names (often familiar from the literature) and, as is well-known to all ethnolinguists, a multitude of franco-, anglo-, hispanico-, portugo-phone spelling variants with or without diacritics. In fact, the 7299 entries yield 39418 names in total, of which about 45% are spelling variants. (This figure is from a rather crude computerized statistical analysis.)
In numerous cases, neither the primary nor alternate names coincides with the name used in the most recent/most authoritative piece of literature, e.g. Sediq vs. Seediq (Tsukida 2005, p. 291), Phun vs. Hpon (Bradley and Harlow 1994, p. 179), Qwarenya vs. Qwara (Appleyard 1998), Jiwarli vs. Djiwarli (Austin 2001)). When searching, the user should be prepared to try spelling variants with great persistence and creativity, and I have tried to exercise extra care that none of the issues raised in this review are mistakes in this respect.
3.2 SPEAKER POPULATION. Speaker populations are generally given with a source, which may be a publication, person, organization or governmental institution, as well as year of source. Some 750 entries do not give a source-year pair at all, of which 274 are 'Extinct' and 238 (no overlap with 'Extinct') are marked 'No estimate available' (a statement for which one arguably does not need a source). Sometimes the year of the source is that of the publication (1998) rather than the survey (1991) (Maho 1998), sometimes the year is that of the survey (1995) rather than the publication (2001) (Berthelette and Berthelette 2001) and sometimes both are given e.g. eki 5,000 (1988, in Crozier and Blench 1992:36).
For the entries which have source years, the distribution of entries over years is as follows (average 1993.01):
Of those 183 entries with sources from 1975 and older only a handful represent extinct languages. There is a certain persistent antiquity, which is more revealing when we look at who the sources are. The sources which account for 100 or more entries are:
SIL 1816 None 1270 Census 733 World Christian Database 545 Wurm and Hattori (1981) 337 United Bible Societies 145 Wurm 120 ... ...
None means that only the year is given and 'Census' represent many different censuses.
The intersecting point of interest is that Wurm and Hattori (1981) is the source for (exactly) 337 entries, and the figures in that volume stem mostly from surveys in the 1970s (Wurm and Hattori 1981) (no page number given since this publication does not have page numbers). This poor effort to update from Wurm and Hattori 1981, although a landmark publication, has a particular effect on the number of non-extinct Australian languages. In Dixon (2002, p. 2) we are told that "more than half of these [240-250 indigenous languages] are no longer spoken or remembered"; see also McConvell (2001). Ethnologue lists 263 Australian languages of which 224 are listed as not (yet) extinct. This is a gross overestimate and SIL should have consulted an Australian specialist here. From e.g. Wurm (2003, pp. 42-43) one can glean a list of now deceased languages that Ethnologue cites as still having speakers as of Wurm and Hattori (1981): lrg, nrx, umr, bpt, fln, bym, gdc, gyf, gyy, gwu, kgl, zmk, zmc, wdu, wrg, zmu, nyt, wkw, wga, wrb, djl, ....
There are too many other cases where there is a newer better source, e.g. those on Ket by Krivogonov who visited every village 1991-1995 (Georg 2003, p. 99-103), for speakers population than Ethnologue, so I will just give a selection of some more important ones below. There are also lots of cases where the Ethnologue figures are up-to-date (although not extremely up-to-date) such as e.g. following Salminen on Saami languages in http://www.helsinki.fi/~tasalmin/fu.html and Ongota; slightly newer figures are given in Savà (2003, p. 173).
3.2.1 Endangered Languages. Ethnologue marks languages which have a speaker population of less than 50 or a very small fraction of the actual ethnic group as 'nearly extinct'. They do not try to take on a more sophisticated approach so e.g. Masep with 30-40 speakers is classed as endangered despite the fact that it is used vigorously by all ages (Clouse, Donohue, and Ma 2002, p. 4), and has been in the same state at least since 1955.
3.2.2 Wrongly Extinct. To label languages as extinct is a bit sensitive since it may deter people from searching for remaining speakers. Languages like Tinigua, Kusunda and Leco have been said to be dead earlier but then speakers were found.
Itene (Angenot-de-Lima 2002; Crevels 2002, p. 39, 34), Cayuvava (Crevels 2002, p. 34), and Yahuna (Adelaar 2004, p. 621), Senhaja de Srair (Behnstedt 2002) are not (yet) extinct. Kusunda [kgg] is listed both as extinct and 3 speakers. It's best to list it as not (yet) extinct (Rana 2002).
There are a number of languages which are really presumed extinct rather than definitely extinct e.g: Jorá (Crevels 2002, p. 55), Tekiraka (Adelaar 2004, p. 456) and perhaps Wappo. I don't know what to say of Yavitero since Adelaar says it is extinct on p. 162 but has 1 speaker on p. 612. Canichana is however correctly classified as extinct in spite of Adelaar's mention of semi-speakers (p. 613) since Crevels (2002, p. 55) clarifies their nature "Estos hablantes sólo se acuerdan de algunas palabras y una o dos frases".
3.2.3 Overestimated Populations. Hayu is mentioned as nearly extinct (Bradley and Harlow 1994, p. 172) so the figure of 1743 speakers is suspicious and probably refers to the ethnic group. So is said to have 5000 speakers (source dated 1972) but there are at most 100 speakers (Carlin 1993, p. 5). (5000 is a plausible size for the ethnic group.) Bubburè is claimed to have 500 speakers whereas actually it's more like 10 (Haruna 1998). Luo (also known as Kasabe) died in 1995 (Connell 1998, p. 216). Ona is extinct according to Adelaar (2004, p. 615). Wotapuri- Katarwalai is probably extinct (Bashir 2003, p. 869), so the Ethnologue number of 2000 probably refers to the ethnic group. Tyua is extinct (Batibo 1998, p. 277) so the figure 817, as do many other of Cook's 2004 figures, probably refers to the ethnic group.
3.3 CLASSIFICATION. Ethnologue's language family index lists 103 families, 40 isolates, 21 mixed languages, 18 pidgins, 86 creoles, and 78 unclassfied languages. From the introduction (p. 14) it is clear that the intent is genetic classification rather than some convenience grouping. The basis for the classification is said to be the International Encyclopedia of Linguistics 2nd ed. (IEL) (Frawley 2003), but that is really an empty self-reference since IEL follows the 14th edition of Ethnologue in its classification (Frawley 2003, p. xiv): "These lists [of language families and their members] were compiled by Barbara Grimes -- not by the authors of the articles -- using the Ethnologue ... There remain great controversies in the field over which languages belong to which families, and, indeed, some of the groupings in the lists are at odds with the positions of the authors of the articles. The goal of including the lists was not to resolve controversies -- or promote them! -- but to ensure that the user has maximum information."
The IEL adds no substance to the classification and the argument given is obviously a smokescreen to avoid effort. Surely, one can provide the user with more 'maximum information' than arbitrariness and contradiction. I am not asking that SIL embark on a large-scale enterprise of historical linguistics, only that they report the latest well-argued expert opinions on the matter.
A good case in point is Khoisan which is listed as a family even here in the 15th edition of Ethnologue. But Khoisan specialists have denied the establishment of genetic unity of its six genetically independent units for ages (Bleek 1927; Westphal 1963; Westphal 1971; Köhler 1975; Winter 1981; Güldemann and Vossen 2000; Güldemann 2003), and other Khoisanists' belief have never amounted to anything more than belief. Note that the list includes Güldemann in the IEL, which is the newest published family overview in wait for the ever-forthcoming Khoisan handbook from Routledge.
Although the 15th edition has incorporated some recent findings, there is still a notable hangover of highly controversial groupings, to name a few: Altaic (Róna-Tas 1998), Australian (Dixon 2002) see also (Evans 2005) and references therein, Andamanese (Abbi 2004), Kadugli-Krongo should be a stand-alone family outside Nilo-Saharan (Reh 1985; Ehret 2001, p. 2, 68), East Papuan (Dunn, Reesink, and Terrill 2002, p. 31), Arutani-Sape (Migliazza 1985), Trans New Guinea and Geelvink Bay need update (Foley 2000, p. 362), the North American Na-Dene, Penutian, Hokan, Coahuiltecan (Tonkawa wrongly included), Hokan, Gulf need further splitting following the well-argued divisions of Mithun (1999) and Campbell (1997), as well as in South America (information scattered in Fabre (2005) and Adelaar (2004). The internal subclassification in many families does not follow the latest well-argued accounts either, e.g. Nilo-Saharan (Ehret 2001) and Sino-Tibetan (Thurgood and LaPolla 2003); cf. van Driem (2003). Many groupings, however, are quite satisfactory, such as e.g. Grassfields Bantu (Watters 2003).
The is no mention of the definition used for 'Mixed Language' but it seems to follow the discussion in Matras and Bakker (2003) since the category contains the commonly discussed cases: Ma'a/Mbugu, Media Lengua, Michif, Callahuaya plus quite a few more (totalling 21), including some poorly known European travellers' languages. (Cocama-Cocamilla [cod] (Adelaar 2004, p. 432) may belong here but is classified under Tupi.) Similarly, although it is not directly mentioned, one can infer that the most important aspects of the definition used for creole is "native speaker" and "full expressivity".
3.4 ISOLATES AND UNCLASSIFIED LANGUAGES. Although Ethnologue never state it, the meaning of 'unclassified' vs. 'isolate' ought to be that unclassified languages have too little data to be classified, whereas isolate means that there is sufficient data but that any attempts to link to it have failed. There are also many languages, apart from the 78 stand- alone unclassifieds, which are unclassified within families. This, I gather from the entries in question, should be interpreted as either "sufficient data to classify into family but insufficient for lower- level assignment" or "full data on language is available but current research on lower-level assignment inconclusive".
Following the definition of isolate vs. (stand-alone) unclassified, a number of unclassified languages should be moved to isolate: Beothuk (Mithun 1999), Kunza/Atacamen~o (Adelaar 2004, p. 375-385), Puquina, Yuwana (Migliazza 1985; Fabre 2005), and Yaruro (Adelaar 2004, p. 163).
Luo (aka Kasabe) and Yeni, if at all different from Njerep (Connell 1998, p. 214-217), are close relatives of Njerep rather than unclassifieds (Connell and Zeitlyn 2000). Likewise, as Ethnologue admits, Bung may go with Ndung-Kwanja.
The unclassified category further includes a number of languages whose unclassified status is harder to attack: Brazilian Wasu (better known as Wassú), Amikoana, Arára, Agavotaguerra, Miarrã, Tapeba, Tingui-Boto (sic), Tremembé, Truká, a couple of Papuan and Nigerian languages and some second- language special languages like Haitian Vodoun Culture Language and Traveller Scottish.
The unclassified extinct poorly attested Brazilian languages Kaimbé, Kamba, Kambiwá, Karirí-Xocó, Pankararé, Uamué, Xukurú, Pataxó-Hãhaãi, Wakoná and Tuxá seem to be listed only because they appear in the SIL Publication (Meader 1978), otherwise extinct unclassified Amazonian or non- Amazonian, e.g. Kenaboi (Hajek 1998) languages usually do not get an entry.
The status of the Indian and Afghan unclassifieds Andh, Bhatola, Majhwar, Mukha-dora, Aariya, Malakhel and Warduji, as well as Waxianghua of China, will hopefully be examined in the near future.
3.5 OTHER ISOLATES. A number of individual languages that Ethnologue classifies into families are better treated as isolates, such as: Masep (Clouse, Donohue, and Ma 2002, p. 5), Kusunda (Rana 2002), Lenca, Xinca (Campbell 1997, p. 166-167) the African isolates Ongota (Fleming, Yilma, Mitiku, Hayward, Miyawaki, Mikesh, and Seelig 1993; Savà and Tosco 2000; Savà 2003), Jaláa (Kleinewillinghöfer 2001), and Shabo (Teferra 1991; Ehret 2001, p. 68). Kujarge and Laal are two other unclassified languages which seem to have enough material to be called isolates. Kara is problematic to place in Central Sudanic (Djarangar 2000, p. 219) so it's not clear what to do with it.
3.6 LOCATION. I am not competent to scrutinize the location data so I have no comments.
4. CONCLUSION. As a catalogue the Ethnologue is of very high absolute value and by far the best of its kind. However, it is not a reference book and one should always double check to get the latest and most authoritative information on individual entries. The relative number of errors is low but the Ethnologue is leaking in various places where it should not have to. I don't think the Ethnologue deserves much beating for their practice of splitting dialects into languages. My impression is that, at any rate, the specialist literature (as a whole) is not any better. The language/dialect implementation, although still relatively eager to split, is now rather informed and can boast many recent dialect surveys conducted by SIL themselves. Therefore I look forward to an even sharper 16th edition.
5 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. Thanks to all language speakers, fieldworkers and libraries.
6 MINOR ERRORS. The name of last speaker of Ubykh, given as 'Tevfik Esen', should be spelled with a 'ç' at the end.
Data which belong to 'remarks on classification' seem to have been systematically misplaced into the 'dialects' field. For instance, we find under 'dialects' such comments as: * "Greenberg places it in Macro-Chibchan" [kuz] * "It may be distantly related to Altaic or Uralic" [ykg] * "Ruhlen says it is Andean. Adelaar says it is in the Hibito-Cholon family" [cht] * "May be in a Takelma-Kalapuyan subgroup, but not conclusive." [tkm] * "Mason (1950:246 with disclaimer), Tax (1960:433), and Kaufman (1990:43 tentatively) say this is Witotoan. Tovar (1961:150), Witte (1981:1), and Aschmann (1993:2) say it is an isolate." [ano]
The introduction (p. 13) claims that there has been 50,000 updates since the last edition. Clearly, 7 fields per entry have not been updated, so this leaves us with a very diluted notion of an update.
The index says Kolyma Yukaghir (p. 1225) under "Yukaghir, southern [yux]" has its entry on p. 499 instead of the correct p. 507.
The list of sources has roughly one immediately spottable typo per page: 'Die nordjemenitischen Dialaekte' (p. 650) should be '.. Dialekte .. ' 'Northern Ter ritory' (p. 651) should be '.. Territory ..' 'Die Sprach von Wotapur' (p. 652) should be '.. Sprache ..' 'Annales' (p. 652) should be 'Annales de l'Université d'Abidjan, série H, Linguistique' 'Paris: Laroux' (p. 654) should be '.. Leroux' or '.. Ernest Leroux' 'des perlers dardes' (p. 655) should be '.. parlers ..' '1903-1928. Linguistic Survey of India, 3 vols.' (p. 656) should be '.. 11 vols' 'Leningrad.', 'Moscow' on three entries by Grjunberg (p. 657) should be prefixed 'Izdatel´stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR' 'A dialektologii' (p. 657) should be 'O dialektologii' 'A. Jazyery' (p. 657) should be 'M. Jazayery' (or M. A. for Mohammad Ali) 'Rudiger Koppe' (p. 657) should be 'Rüdiger Köppe' 'Togorestsprachen. Kölner Beiträge zur Afrikanistik, Band )' (p. 658) should be '.. Band 1' 'Ein neuaramaischen Dielekt aus dem Vilayet Siirt (Ustanatolien). ZDub 121' (p. 659) should be 'Ein neuaramäischer Dialekt aus dem Vilayet Siirt (Ostanatolien). Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 121' 'Mesopotamisch-Arabishen' (p. 659) should be 'Mesopotamisch-Arabischen' 'Neuaramaische Dialect' (p. 659) should be 'Neuaramäische Dialekt' 'Karassowitz' (p. 659) should be 'Harrassowitz' 'Beitrage' (p. 659) should be 'Beiträge' (and the publisher is probably Afro-Pub and Beitr. zur Afrikanistik the series name). 'Kastenholz ... Vol. 2' (p. 659) should be '... Mande Languages and Linguistics Vol. 2' 'Rudiger, Koppe' (p. 659) should be 'Rüdiger Köppe' 'Anthropological Linguistics 19.8.' (p. 660) could add the pages '378- 401', and there is a newer version of this article in the cited Manelis Klein and Stark (1985). 'Societe' (p. 660) should be 'Société' 'Mahapatra, B. P. Malto 1979. An Ethnosemantic Study' (p. 661) should be 'Mahapatra, B. P. 1979. Malto: An Ethnosemantic Study' 'Migliazza 1977 .. ms' (p. 662) was published in the cited Manelis Klein and Stark 1985 'Heinz-Jurgen' (p. 664) should be 'Heinz-Jürgen' 'Sonsoral' (p. 665) should be 'Sonsorol' 'Saenz-Badillos' (p. 665) should be 'Sáenz-Badillos' 'filologica' (p. 667) should be 'filología' 'Afrika und Ubersee 40:110-112' (p. 668) should be '... Übersee ...' and the full article is on pp. 73-84 and 93-115 as well as continued in vol 41:27-65, 117-153, 171-196. 'The Tati languages group' (p. 668) should be 'The Tati language group' 'langues parlees' (p. 669) should be 'langues parlées' 'Zhao, Xiangru ..' (p. 672) add 'pp. 260-287'
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ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Harald Hammarström is a PhD Student in Computational Linguistics at the Depertment of Computing Science at Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden. His current research topic is Unsupervised Learning of Concatenative Morphology but interests go significantly wider and include linguistic typology and computational linguistics in general.