Research on endangered and underdescribed languages is comparative research on the diversity and uniformity of the languages of the world. This is an area of special initiative at the NSF, NEH and other agencies. One NSF funded project is underway at present on endangered Malayic languages spoken on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Two earlier NSF projects have now been completed, one on the Malay spoken in Jambi Province in Sumatra, and the second on the Algonquian language, Passamaquoddy, spoken in Maine and New Brunswick.
A major focus of the linguistics program at the University of Delaware is the study of a wide range of typologically different languages. Which features of human languages are common to all languages, and which features vary across languages? Answers to these questions are central to an understanding of the human capacity for language. This research is carried out in the context of precise linguistic theory, and students and faculty alike have been very successful in publishing their work in the leading journals in linguistics. This work combines with the department's other main focus on Linguistics in Cognitive Science to provide a powerful interdisciplinary approach to the study of language. Training in cross-linguistic research plays a central role in the graduate program — courses in linguistic theory include extensive preparation in the skills needed to do research on less well-studied languages. The faculty and students in the program provide an unusually broad array of cross-linguistic expertise.