Universiteit Leiden

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Descriptive Linguistics

The Americas

At LUCL, researchers aim to understand, describe, and preserve the linguistic diversity of the indigenous Americas.

The Americas are a rich linguistically diverse landscape. Part of this pattern of high diversity persists to the present day. Nevertheless, almost all indigenous languages of the Americas are endangered.

We study the linguistic diversity on the continent from different angles:

  • We document and describe these indigenous languages by collecting and analysing the wide variety of linguistic structures.
  • We plan and develop revitalisation strategies with indigenous communities to help maintain and enhance their languages.

Multidimensional picture of the past

By means of cross-linguistic comparison, we reconstruct the histories of language families or patterns of interaction with other speakers in a particular geographical area. Together with anthropologists, archeologists and geneticists, we try to unravel the mysteries and untold history of the American continent. 

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