How did the languages in countries like Papua New Guinea (which has the most languages) get verified and who does it?

The main game in town for documenting languages in PNG are SIL International  . I think they do Lexicostatistics to establish what counts as a language. There is the potential for error, as most data is gathered by missionaries rather than academic linguists; but any differentiation between dialect and language is leaky anyway. From memory, the sources did routinely identify dialects within the claimed languages; so it wasn’t a case of lazily calling every village a different language, and I don’t remember the languages looking particularly close. (Unless they’re Oceanic languages, of course, but that’s a later migration, and not the majority of PNG languages.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *