Leaders : Isabelle Bril, Alexandre François, Mark van de Velde 

The rising prominence of typological approaches to the study of language universals and of evolutionary approaches to explanation in linguistics entails a renewed interest in the classification of the languages of the world as well as in the reconstruction of their proto-languages. This in turn requires careful lexical and syntactic analysis of a great sample of languages based, as much as possible, on first-hand data collected by specialists. 

This project aims at a better understanding of the history and internal genealogy of the two biggest language phyla of the world, viz. Niger-Congo and Austronesian. Bringing together some of the world’s leading experts, we will strengthen the empirical basis of comparative work in these phyla by describing and documenting individual languages, and we will propose better classifications and genealogies. In every domain of our research project (description, classification and reconstruction), specialists of Austronesian and Niger-Congo will exchange methods and insight from their own field.