Welcome to WALS Online

The World Atlas of Language Structures (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 55 authors.

The first version of WALS was published as a book with CD-ROM in 2005 by Oxford University Press. The first online version was published in April 2008.

The 2013 edition of WALS corrects a number of coding errors especially in Chapters 1 and 3. A full list of changes is available here.

Starting with the 2013 edition of WALS, we will release and publish sets of corrections periodically. Thus, any citation of WALS Online 2013 should include the particular version, as listed on Zenodo.

WALS Online is a publication of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. It is a separate publication, edited by Dryer, Matthew S. & Haspelmath, Martin (Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, 2013). The main programmer is Robert Forkel.

How to use WALS Online

Using WALS Online requires a browser with Javascript enabled.

You find the features or chapters of WALS through the items "Features" and "Chapters" in the navigation bar.

You can also browse and search for languages through the item "Languages" on the navigation bar.

You can search for references through the item "References", and once you have navigated to a particular feature, you see a second navigation bar with citation information and various export options.

A description of changes from previous editions is available through the item "Changes".

How to cite WALS Online

It is important to cite the specific chapter that you are taking your information from, not just the general work "The World Atlas of Language Structures Online" (Dryer, Matthew S. & Haspelmath, Martin 2013), unless you are citing data from more than 25 chapters simultaneously.

We recommend that you cite

  • the general work as
    Dryer, Matthew S. & Haspelmath, Martin (eds.) 2013.
    The World Atlas of Language Structures Online.
    Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
    (Available online at http://wals.info, Accessed on 2020-05-25.)
  • and WALS Online chapters as in the following example
    Ian Maddieson. 2013. Consonant Inventories.
    In: Dryer, Matthew S. & Haspelmath, Martin (eds.)
    The World Atlas of Language Structures Online.
    Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
    (Available online at http://wals.info/chapter/1, Accessed on 2020-05-25.)

Interactive Reference Tool (WALS program)

The World Atlas of Language Structures was published as a book with a CD-ROM in summer 2005. The CD-ROM contains the "Interactive Reference Tool (WALS program)" as a standalone application for Mac OSX, Mac OS9.2 and Windows 2000, XP written by Hans-Jörg Bibiko. To download the "Interactive Reference Tool (WALS program)" please follow the link https://www.eva.mpg.de/lingua/research/tool.php.

Terms of use

The content of this web site is published under a Creative Commons Licence. We invite the community of users to think about further applications for the available data and look forward to your comments, feedback and questions.