2021-09-03

Lexibank

After more than one year in which we were busily finalizing datasets and writing new applications for the analysis, we have finally managed to submit the paper presenting the Lexibank wordlist collection, and a preprint presenting the database is already available online from ResearchSquare.

The past decades have seen substantial growth in digital data on the world's languages. At the same time, the demand for cross-linguistic datasets has been increasing, as witnessed by numerous studies devoted to diverse questions on human prehistory, cultural evolution, and human cognition. Unfortunately, the majority of published datasets lack standardization which makes their comparison difficult. Here, we present the first step to increase the comparability of cross-linguistic lexical data. We have designed workflows for the computer-assisted lifting of datasets to Cross-Linguistic Data Formats, a collection of standards that increase the FAIRness of linguistic data. We test the Lexibank workflow on a collection of 100 lexical datasets from which we derive an aggregated database of wordlists in unified phonetic transcriptions covering more than 2000 language varieties. We illustrate the benefits of our approach by showing how phonological and lexical features can be automatically inferred, complementing and expanding existing cross-linguistic datasets.

The data is also available now from GitHub (lexibank/lexibank-analysed).