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By Richard Littauer, Alexis Palmer and Rory Turnbull


This paper presents a novel way of visualising relationships between languages. The key feature of the visualisation is that it brings geographic, phylogenetic, and linguistic data together into a single image, allowing a new visual perspective on linguistic typology. The data presented here is extracted from the World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS) (Dryer and Haspelmath, 2011). After pruning due to low coverage of WALS, we filter the typological data by geographical proximity in order to ascertain areal typological effects. The data are displayed in heat maps which reflect the strength of similarity between languages for different linguistic features. Finally, the heat maps are annotated for language family membership. The images so produced allow a multi-faceted perspective on the data which we hope will facilitate the interpretation of results and perhaps illuminate new areas of research in linguistic typology.

Year: 2013
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