Archive for July, 2008

Exporting WALS Data

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

WALS Online is about making the data of the World Atlas of Language Structures accessible – as widely as possible.

To most users the site’s HTML pages will be all the access to the data they care about, but for people who want to work with the data quantitatively a more comprehensive access to the data is necessary.

The Raw Power

For those wanting to unleash the raw power of SQL, we provide the WALS Online SQLite database – the one the web application runs on – for download.

The easiest way we found to work with this database is to use SQLite Manager, a Firefox browser add-on.

The screenshot below shows SQLite Manager with the WALS db loaded, and languages located north of the polar circle – i.e. with a latitude greater than 66.5° – selected.

Power to the Masses

Now SQL isn’t everyone’s first choice for manipulating data; Spreadsheet processors like ms excel or openoffice calc may come closer to that. So since last week, we also provide (most of) the WALS data in a ZIP archive of Delimiter-separated values for download.

Data formatted this way can be easily imported into spreadsheet processors, just make sure to pick the correct character encoding for your platform.

And to the Mapmakers

To include the feature data from WALS in maps, we provide also several exports, explained below in descending order of flexibility.

Single Feature Values as GeoRSS

As announced before, GeoRSS for single values of features are available using the following (somewhat bolted-on) URL syntax. To retrieve the feed for the first value of feature 2:

To retrieve other values, you must pass parameters to set the preceding values to “invisible”. So the URL below will give the feed for the third value:

GeoRSS is easy to include as layer on maps created with OpenLayers.

Complete Features as KML

With URLs like

you can export a feature’s datapoints in KML format, suitable for import in Google Earth.

Features as Mapplets

To add a WALS feature as overlay to a Google map, you can install the mapplet by following the “mapplet” link on the feature’s map page.

We’re sorry for the downtime

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Last night, from July 7, 9:00 pm CEST until July 8, 0:30 am CEST our server was not reachable, due to maintenance work on the infrastructure of the Wissenschaftspark Golm which connects our servers to the internet.

Location of Malacca Creole corrected

Friday, July 4th, 2008

The location for Malacca Creole has been corrected. Find the details here.

Value assignment errors in chapter 33

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

The values for feature 33 (Coding of Nominal Plurality) of the following languages will be corrected in the next edition of WALS Online:

  • Berber (Siwa): Plural suffix -> Mixed morphological plural
  • Mondunga: Plural suffix -> Mixed morphological plural
  • Päri: Plural suffix -> Mixed morphological plural
  • Pokot: Plural suffix -> Mixed morphological plural
  • Berta: Plural suffix -> Mixed morphological plural
  • Lagwan: Plural suffix -> Mixed morphological plural
  • Coos (Hanis): Plural suffix -> Mixed morphological plural

Updates to some language locations

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Our editorial policy for WALS Online distinguishes between two kinds of errata.

  1. Errata in what we consider the original contribution of WALS, i.e. feature values assigned to languages;
  2. Errata in the additional data we present, like bibliographic references, locations of languages, genealogical data, etc.

While errata of the first kind will be collected until a new edition of WALS Online is published (planned every year), errata of the second kind will be fixed right away. We will document these changes in this blog.

Last week we updated the locations of five languages: Cheyenne, Kamaiurá, Shambala, Trumai and Waurá. Find the details here.