Uralic language typological data set

We collected a typological dataset of the Uralic languages which is comprised of 360 questions on phonology, morphology, and syntax. The data provides information of whether a function exists in the language or not – the questions were developed so that almost all of them could be answered “yes” or “no” (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Examples of UT questions and their answers (1= yes, the function exists, 0= no, it does not).

As a result of the project, we will have comparative data available on 35 Uralic languages, which we can use to achieve our aims set for the project, but that can also be used by typologists, Uralists, and others to advance Uralic studies.

We cooperate with the Grambank team who has developed questions to collect data from about half of the world’s languages (see more https://glottobank.org/). 195 of the questions are so called Grambank (GB) questions. Of these, ca. 150 questions show variation among the Uralic languages – rest of them are all 0 or 1 for all the Uralic languages.

We also wanted to create a list of typological features that could be used to study the divergence of URALIC typology. For this we created a 166 items additional list (the UT traits) following th principles developed within Grambank team. These questions are relevant for the Uralic languages, and enables us to get a better picture of the differences and similarities within the Uralic language family.

The collection of the linguistic data is coordinated by Miina Norvik (University of Tartu/University of Turku). In addition to Miina Norvik, the Uralic-specific data is collected by Minerva Piha (University of Turku) and Eva Saar (University of Tartu/University of Turku). Richard Kowalik (University of Stockholm) is responsible for collecting the Grambank data on the Uralic languages.

The Grambank principles (including the procedure of coding) were introduced by Harald Hammarström and Michael Dunn from the University of Uppsala. Gerson Klumpp, Karl Pajusalu, and Helle Metslang from the University of Tartu participated in the process of developing the Uralic specific questions.

The collection of the typological dataset for the Uralic languages is part of the Kipot ja kielet (Pots and languages) project, funded by the University of Turku, and the URKO (Uralilainen Kolmio = ‘Uralic Triangle’) project, funded by the Academy of Finland. We are also thankful for the feedback provided by Jeremy Bradley (University of Vienna) and Ksenia Shagal (University of Helsinki).

Finally, the user interface Uralic Areal Typology was developed by Robert Forkel from Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.