We work in terms of basic linguistic theory, the cumulative framework which is employed in most linguistic description, providing anthropologically informed grammars and analyses of languages and linguistic areas. Our work has a sound empirical basis but also shows a firm theoretical orientation, seeking for explanation hand-in-hand with description.
Building on reliable descriptive studies, the LCRC also puts forward inductive generalizations about human languages, cultural practices and cognition. We enquire how a language reflects the environment in which people live, their system of social organization, food production techniques, and the ways in which a community views the world. For instance, groups living in mountainous terrain often have to specify, for any object, whether it is uphill, downhill or at the same level as the speaker. And if there is a chiefly system, a special term of address may be required for speaking to a high chief, and a different term for a minor chief. Why are languages the way they are? We seek scientific explanation and motivation, combining the expertise of linguists, anthropologists and social scientists from other domains.
Another focus of study concerns the ways in which languages influence each other. What kind of words, and meanings, are likely to be borrowed between two languages spoken next to each other, and under what social circumstances? Are some kinds of systems particularly open to diffusion, so that they are likely to spread over all the languages in a geographical area, and are other kinds of systems less likely to be diffused?
LCRC organises International Workshops, regular roundtable meetings, and various events through the year. We reach out to the community, through advising and assisting concerning language renewal and revitalisation.