AbstractThe authors investigate the relationship between linguistic diversity and various environmental and spatial variables associated with biodiversity. Most of these variables predict linguistic diversity variably across different continents, and more so within Africa and extended Asia (Asia, the Pacific, and Australia) than within Europe and the Americas. This divide is theorized to be a result of differences in demography and impact of colonialism between the two global regions. However, two environmental factors, landscape roughness and density of river systems, are found to be significant predictors across all global regions. The authors suggest that, as in processes of speciation, rough terrain and watercourses both create physical barriers between which languages can develop in isolation while, in the case of river junctions, also providing transportation routes whereby hybrid languages can occasionally manifest.