The Digital Polyglot

The word POLYGLOT, pronounced 'p?-lE-"gl?t, is from the Greek word polyglOttos [poly ?many? + glOtta ?language?]. It entered the English language in the mid 17th century.
The noun polyglot means: one who is polyglot.
The adjective polyglot means:
1a. speaking or writing several languages
1b. composed of numerous linguistic groups
2. containing matter in several languages
3. composed of elements from different languages  

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate ® Dictionary, Tenth Edition.

Welcome to The Digital Polyglot, a multi-media linguistics textbook and work book. On this site you can explore the foundations of linguistics, via primary source material collected from speakers of Russian, Bemba, Samoan, English, and more to come. The diversity and richness of human languages is made more immediate and vivid through streaming audio clips, written exercises, photos, and real people saying real things about their languages.

The educational materials on this site can be adapted for a variety of uses. Please let us know how you are using the site! At Emory University, the site is primarily being used for LING 201/ANT 203 "Foundations of Linguistics." The core of the site emphasizes comparative and typological morphosyntax, an area that is touched on only minimally in most introductory linguistic textbooks. Here you will find over a hundred sentences in very different world languages to use both inside and outside the class room for morpheme identification exercises and for exploring some of these questions:

  • What are the basic building blocks of human languages?
  • Why do some languages have 20 verb tenses, while others only have 3?
  • How do sounds pattern to create meaningful sequences that people recognize as words?
  • Why do some languages ignore word order, while others are chained to a rigid subject-verb-object sequence?
  • Why is the "red" of one language not the "red" of another language?
  • Confusing Tower of Babel or Pillar of Polyglot Magnificence?

The Digital Polyglot is an educational project supported by the Emory University Teaching Fund. It is designed to provide educational materials in descriptive linguistics, comparative linguistics, and linguistic anthropology. This is an ongoing project which will grow to meet the educational needs and interests of Emory undergraduates, graduates, and faculty. Suggestions for additions are most welcome. During phase one, the educational materials on this site will be targeted at students in taking LING 201/ANT 203 "Foundations of Linguistics." Phase one has two main goals: (1) To develop an understanding of the distinct levels of linguistic structure and their corresponding modes of analysis. (2) To develop an understanding of the richness and diversity of world language structures and functions.

Faculty developer for phase one: Debra Vidali, Anthropology
Fieldwork contributors: Hal Odden, Debra Vidali, Josh Walker