World Atlas of Language Structures now online

The following announcement from Martin Haspelmath was published on the Linguist List today:

Through a joint effort of the Max Planck Digital Library and the Department
of Linguistics of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
all the data and analytical texts from The World Atlas of Language
are now freely available online (”WALS Online”), at The materials are published under a Creative Commons
, guaranteeing open access for users and inviting scientists to use
them for their work.

The site shows data on over 2500 languages, for which more than 6000
references have been used. Searching and browsing is possible by structural
feature, by language name or language family, by reference and by author.
The analytical texts contain links to all the references and all the
languages. The maps can be shown at any zoom level, and the map symbols can
be displayed in various shapes and colours. A wide range of export options
is available.

As in the book version from 2005, all languages are equal in WALS Online:
each language, regardless of number of speakers, is represented on the map
by the same circular symbol. For linguists, small and endangered languages
threatened with imminent extinction are fully as interesting as large
national languages.

WALS Online provides information on a vast range of structural variables:
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.

(Source: LINGUIST List 19.1390, Links added)

Included in WALS is information on structural features of a large number of Afroasiatic languages, including 46 Chadic languages.


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