Episode 5: Anthony Grant, part 1, on Lexicostatistics Today

On this week’s episode, we interview Dr. Anthony Grant, Professor of Historical Linguistics and Language in the Department of English, History & Creative Writing at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, Lancashire, in the United Kingdom.

“Love Linguistics, Love Languages, and Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

You can check out Dr. Grant’s bio page here.

My first contact with Dr. Grant was when I emailed him about a paper I had come across when researching David Zorc’s method of Functor Analysis, and Anthony was generous in his responses and time with me. So when we decided to start this podcast, he was one of the very first invitations I extended. And, again, he graciously accepted.

This episode serves as one of the introductory topics to the rest of the podcast episodes, as it discusses one aspect of language diversity around the world: the methodology called lexicostatistics. What is lexicostatistics? How is it related to the controversial idea of glottochronology? What can we learn from lexicostatistics, and why is it an important methodology in modern Linguistics?

Tune in to find out!


  • the Miskito language: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miskito_language
  • Swadesh, Morris. The Origin and Diversification of Language. Edited by Joel Sherzer, Aldine Atherton, 1971.
  • Hajdú, Péter. Finno-Ugrian Languages and Peoples. Translated by G. F. Cushing, Deutsch, 1975.
  • Zorc, R. David Paul. 1978. “Functor Analysis: A Method of Quantifying Function Words for Comparing and Classifying Languages.” In The Fifth LACUS Forum, 510–21. Columbia, SC: Hornbeam Press.
  • Antonio Pigafetta:
    • According to (a historian and personal friend) Trizer Mansueto [here] “The Cebuano language is the first documented Philippine language when Antonio Pigafetta wrote down several words in his account of the Magellan expedition.” (more here about that journal: https://www.wdl.org/en/item/3082)
    • Linguist Michael Tanangkingsing writes, “The first published Cebuano wordlist was prepared by Antonio Pigafetta in 1521. Pigafetta must have later worked on a manuscript on Cebuano-Visayan grammar (undated), which contains 19 chapters on the traditional categories of grammar. The grammatical descriptions are brief and simplified with very few examples. However, there are parts which are of great value; for example, it contains a description of contractions and interjections, which are generally left out in other reference grammars. Materials on the portion covering verbs are outdated. As mentioned in the preface, this manuscript was supposed to be a preparatory material for publication; however, I doubt if it was ever published.” (Tanangkingsing, Michael. 2009. “A Functional Reference Grammar of Cebuano.” National Taiwan University.)
  • Doctrina Christiana: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctrina_Christiana
  • Baybayin script: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baybayin
  • Heggarty, Paul. “Beyond Lexicostatistics: How to Get More out of ‘word List’ Comparisons.” Quantitative Approaches to Linguistic Diversity: Commemorating the Centenary of the Birth of Morris Swadesh, edited by Søren Wichmann and Anthony Grant, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2012, pp. 113–37.
  • Campbell, Lyle. 1999. Historical Linguistics: An Introduction. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • The World Atlas of Language Structures Online: https://wals.info
  • Johann-Mattis List: https://lingulist.de

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