Booklist Editor at Large Subject-Specific

World Atlas of Language Structures

Today I’m making an exception to the usual anglo-centrism of my blog, for a very good reason:

The World Atlas of Language Structures is now online.

Think about it. Over 2,500 languages with over 6,500 references, and all of them treated equally. Thanks to the Max Planck Digital Library and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, both in Germany, you can browse through as many languages as you like for free.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll find at

number of consonants (from 6 to 122), presence of rare sounds like ö and ü, tone systems, gender categories, plural formation, number of cases, verbal future and past forms, imperatives, word order, passives, numerals, colour terms, writing systems, and more

I predict that linguaphiles everywhere will be jumping on this one. Paging languagehat!

The full press release is here.

4 replies on “World Atlas of Language Structures”

Wow, this looks like an incredible resource. Thanks for pointing it out.

And thanks for your comment on my blog! I found your blog through the “suggestions” feature on Google Reader…they’re generally pretty good at picking out stuff I might like! Thus the blogroll expands…

Hi Robin, I’m glad the WALS link is useful for you! I thought it was fascinating stuff, and I’m surprised I haven’t seen the link more around the web yet. Perhaps it will take people a while to discover it.

I feliç diada de Sant Jordi! If my Catalan is not too rusty…I’ll be making a post on it later today too.


The World Atlas of Language Structures is now freely available online:WALS is a large database of structural (phonological, grammatical, lexical) properties of languages gathered from descriptive materials (such as reference grammars) by a team of more…

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