About Newguineaworld

    Timothy Usher and Edgar Suter

    Newguineaworld is a historical phonological encyclopedia of New Guinean languages. It presents cognate sets and the sound correspondences derived from them. The purpose of this website is to classify the language families of New Guinea, the most linguistically diverse region in the world, through a process of stepwise reconstruction using the traditional comparative method. In support of this goal, we aim to develop and present a full-spectrum online dataset describing New Guinean languages, with an emphasis on data types most likely to be of use to comparativists.

    There are currently three primary components of our project, which are interrelated and supportive of one another. The first component consists of digitalized vocabularies in spreadsheet format. These are the building blocks from which reconstructions are created. The second are text descriptions of individual languages, including locations, lists of relevant sources, sketch phonologies and pronominal and verbal morphology. These two support the third component of reconstruction and classification, really two components which evolve in a dialectic.

    Newguineaworld is work in progress. Some pages are well elaborated, others are in the process of being constructed, and many more are still empty except for the language directory. Infrequent visitors should not be surprised to see some language families combined and, occasionally, a family split in two upon a subsequent visit. There is a backlog of materials waiting to be uploaded, the limiting factor being time. A Newguineaworld write-up is time-consuming and takes time away from new original research which is our priority. Readers who would like to grant us more time are kindly requested to turn to the “Funding” page below.

    Newguineaworld is not peer-reviewed and has the status of a draft manuscript. The degree of elaboration and definitiveness of its pages varies widely. Readers who want to cite one of our classifications must decide for themselves whether the evidence we present is sufficient to make the case. Higher-level classifications that are not supported by cognate sets and sound correspondences are working hypotheses rather than assured results.

    We present noteworthy results of our research in peer-reviewed journals. There is the practical problem that journals do not like data-heavy papers and often set an upper limit for the number of pages. This makes it hard to publish large numbers of cognates. In our article on the Anim language family (Usher and Suter 2015) we solved this problem by only publishing the top-level cognates and referring readers to Newguineaworld for the cognate sets of the four subfamilies. We will follow the same approach in future publications. Newguineaworld is therefore an integral part of our publication effort.

    Linguists and amateur enthusiasts alike are encouraged to consult and cite the materials presented here as described in our terms of use. We're keen to increase the breadth, depth and quality of our coverage, so if you'd like to call our attention to something we'd overlooked – or, better still, would like to join in and contribute to this endeavor – please let us know. If you're interested in automated or online use of materials, analyses and findings presented herein, see automated use.