I am looking for basic linguistic properties of Indo-European languages that provide a purely statistical description of the phoneme-aspect of the language. I am looking for any of the following data:

  • phoneme inventory set
  • phoneme distribution (per language, per word, per syllable, per syllable-part)
  • syllable count distribution per word
  • phoneme count per syllable
  • distribution of initial/terminal phonemes or other positional information (i.e. phoneme appears only in coda of syllables)
  • transitional probabilities of phonemes
  • accent position distribution

Is there any such database or other source (book, paper, etc.) that provides comprehensive data on more than one language and in a comparable way? Please provide one source per answer and take the time to add a brief description of the capabilities and properties of the database.

I am aware of the following sites that do provide a subset of the above statistics:

  1. UPSID (mostly inventories with some very simple distributions)
  2. PHOIBLE (contains UPSID data)

Note, that I am strictly interested in the characteristic distributions of phonemes (sounds) and not letters (characters).

  • So you're after information on phonotactics? Here's the World phonotactic database. Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 1:27
  • @Gaston Exactly, thank you! As a biologist, I am, not familiar with linguistic terminology. But why not make your link a proper answer? Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 11:50
  • Ok, done. BTW as this site is about linguistics it deals primarily in languages, as opposed to writing systems (though there is some discussion of these), your question was always going to be interpreted primarily in terms of sounds as opposed to 'letters'. Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 6:58

3 Answers 3


Since you did not mention it in the question:

The World Atlas of Linguistic Structures (WALS) contains some of the data you are looking for.

Specifically, you can find information on the size of consonant and vowel inventories, consonant-vowel ratio, the presence or absence of some specific types of consonants, the presence or absence of front rounded vowels, the presence of rare consonants, the absence of common consonants, syllable structure, stress, and tone.


The arrangement of phonemes within syllables and words, which is what much of your question appears to be about, is known as 'phonotactics'. The World phonotactic database would therefore be likely to hold some of the answers you're seeking. This database holds phonotactic data for over 4000 languages, so it covers a good proportion (perhaps a majority) of the world's languages. It is coded for a large set of possible features, which can be browsed across various features by map or statistics.

Along with this, the previously mentioned WALS database is probably relevant.

  • Is this supposed to work at present, e.g. display something on the map? Or is that a future development?
    – user6726
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 16:10
  • @user6726 it works for me. Go to 'launch database' and add features, click the circle arrow and it should display. Commented Oct 27, 2018 at 6:29

Look to Typological Database System (TDS): https://languagelink.let.uu.nl/tds/main.html


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