An insatiable appetite for ancient and modern tongues

  1. The Language Gulper is a new language site that provides:

  1. Detailed descriptions of the main languages of the world in a clear, concise way. Its scope is not only living languages but also ancient ones of historical or cultural importance. So far, “The Language Gulper” includes 134 individual language pages, 40 about families and branches, 8 about linguistic areas, and 2 (recently added) describing the language situation in individual countries (Afghanistan and Bhutan). It is being updated and expanded regularly. You can access all language pages by two indexes:

    1. an alphabetical index.

    1. an index based on the classification of languages.

  1. Information about writing systems.

  1. Maps specially designed for the site (accessible via a menu on the right part of every page).

  1. A summary of key literary works for those languages that developed a substantial literature (in progress).

  1. Lists of the largest languages and families of the world.

  1. A linguistic glossary.

Language pages are of three types:

  1. A)Areal pages: dealing with some linguistically complex areas of the world where many language families meet and, often, influence each other, like for example Southeast Asia and Ethiopia. Areal pages mention the main families and languages present in a region and tabulate their frequent and/or common features which may be the result of geographic proximity, common origin, or both.

  1. B)Family pages: introduce groups of  languages that descend from a common ancestor,  i.e. they are genetically related, like for example Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages. For some families, additional pages describe smaller groupings (branches). Family and branch pages inform about their geographical distribution and internal classification which is shown also on a map, list their main languages (with their number of speakers) and summarize the features shared by them.

  1. C)Individual language pages describe a language in detail, including:

  1. Classification: phylum, family, branch, group, etc.

  1. Overview: a brief introduction to the language, often combined with some historical information. Dates are expressed as BCE (before common era) or CE (common era), equivalent to BC and AD, respectively.

  1. Geographical distribution.

  1. Number of native speakers: i.e. those that speak it as a mother tongue. Our estimates are based on the most recent available data updated to the current year 2013, considering population increase as well as the status of each language (growing, stable, declining), and taking into account the often blurred distinction between language and dialect.

  1. Status: living or extinct, thriving, stable or endangered; official recognition if any.

  1. Varieties: socio-linguistic and regional (dialects).

  1. Phonology: the basic sounds of the language summarized in two tables (vowels and consonants) with the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet.

  1. Scripts and orthography: the writing system(s) employed by the language. If it is alphabetic, the correspondence between its letters and the basic sounds of the language is shown. In addition, for non-Latin derived alphabets, the most usual transliteration into the Latin alphabet is given.

  1. Morphology

  1. - nominal: gender, number, case declension, pronouns, compounds, etc.

  1. - verbal: tense, aspect, mood, conjugations, etc.

  1. Syntax: sentence and phrase structure.

  1. Basic vocabulary: a small set of  terms relatively resistant to change (numbers, kinship words, parts of the body) for comparison purposes.

  1. Key literary works: a chronological list and summary of the major literary works written in a given language.

  1. Further Reading: a short selection of the most important reference books and articles.

  1. © 2013 Alejandro Gutman and Beatriz Avanzati

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Alphabetic Index   Classificatory Index   Largest Languages & Families   Glossary                                  About us


20/1/14 A detailed article about Sumerian has been added.

31/5/14 We’ve considerably extended the syntax section of the Italian page and added a selection of key literary works to it.

19/6/14 We’ve started a new section that intends to explain the linguistic make-up of every country, beginning with the languages and ethnic groups of Afghanistan.

17/7/14 We have just added a detailed article about Bulgarian.

21/8/14 An article describing the languages and ethnic groups of Bhutan has just been added.

6/11/14 We’ve just added a detailed article about Basque.

Online Sanskrit classes via Skype or Hangouts, in English or Spanish, by one of the authors of The Language Gulper (Alejandro Gutman).

More info here and/or contact me at:

As the Language Gulper has no advertisements it is essential that we receive some financial help, however small, in order to keep the site running and eventually expand it.

So, please, make a donation if you can.