1. ALL focusses on a specific linguistic and cultural area, characterized by a large number of undescribed and endangered languages — the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.

The aim of ALL is to improve our knowledge of the Afroasiatic langages spoken in the region, and hence to be in a better position to address a wide array of general issues concerning (a) and (b) above. In addition ALL will contribute to the visibility of these languages in academia, and in policy-making circles in the relevant countries.

The Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa

  • host a great variety of Afroasiatic languages
  • constitute a coherent area, because of the historic and ongoing relationship between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula
  • constitute currently a research topic at the intersection of several disciplines : archeology, history, genetics, geography, linguistics, politic sciences etc.

As a matter of fact

From a linguistic point of view, the similarities between some languages spoken in the Horn of Africa and in the south of the Arabian Peninsula are a topic of debate (see e.g. the question of the relationships between Ethiosemitic and Modern South Arabian). The area thus receives particular attention from the perspective of language reconstruction. In the last decade, researchers have tried to combine linguistic evidence with genetic evidence and archeological evidence in order to date the population movements across the Red Sea, and the history of the settlement of the area. Despite this effervescence, no definite concluion has been reached: the evidence in the scientific fields above does not seem to converge, and there are several methodological issues with glottochronology.

Our position is that in order to go beyond the obvious similarity of various general features at a superficial level, it is necessary to have a precise description and analysis of the relevant languages. Yet many langages spoken in the area are still insufficiently known at the present stage, many crucial data/linguistics facts are still missing, and, as a consequence, some of the generalizations at the basis of much recent work might turn out to be wrong.

The aims of our network are thus:

  • to supply solid and complete descriptions
  • to establish a reliable empirical basis for further research
  • to provide a comparative analysis of linguistic systems spoken in the region.