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When facts disagree: Selection, analysis and presentation of linguistic data in the Atlas of the Languages of Iran

Monday 16 July 2018
Summer School 2018 evening lectures
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


There have been a number of important efforts to map out the languages of Iran, but until now no language atlas, or even a comprehensive and detailed country-level language map, has been produced. What are the obstacles to the research process, and how can they be overcome? One of the recent initiatives which aims to fill this gap is the Atlas of the Languages of Iran (ALI) (http://iranatlas.net), a collaborative research programme involving partners in Iran and internationally. This Atlas, which makes use of the open-source Nunaliit Atlas Framework (http://nunaliit.org), is being built to collect and display language data systematically from any of Iran’s some 60,000 cities and villages. In this presentation, we will talk about how the project addresses disagreements about the status of “languages” and “dialects” through a flexible three-dimensional classification web; the architecture and content of the language data questionnaire; the role of ongoing comparisons between language distribution assessments and hard linguistic data; and mechanisms for ensuring the reliability of the “big data” generated by the Atlas.

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