what are good sources for finding Phonemic inventories of Languages?

  • Do you mean how you can find published descriptions of the phonology of a language? As it's one of the first steps in language description it's quite common for papers to be published that just describe the phonology. So search for the name of the language + phonology!
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 11:39
  • no, I meant something like a website Which has a detailed description of Phonemic inventories of languages. Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 11:52
  • Well Wikipedia covers a lot of them. For the more obscure languages you'll have to go looking for the original academic papers.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


PHOIBLE is probably the best free source. Searching by language allows you to get a list of all distinct segments in the language's phonological inventory. It does not provide a detailed description of the segments though, so sometimes details may be omitted (e.g. the inventories shown for English generally neglect the labialisation of /ɹ/). Different authors may also choose to transcribe the same sound in different ways, and so comparing inventories between languages requires a certain amount of human care. Luckily each inventory is properly sourced, so you can find the paper where the inventory was originally published to check for these extra details.

  • 1
    The aforementioned problems that you hint at are essential, not "extra details". You should look at Phoible as an annotated bibliographic source that gives you a clue where to start looking.
    – user6726
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 15:21
  • Though it's sorta confusing because when for a phonemic inventory of a language it gives you like 4 phonemic inventories of that particular language. Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 16:09
  • @LinguisticsFanatic different analyses of a language lead to different conclusions about phoneme inventories. The different inventories may also be for different varieties. Either way, PHOIBLE just lists the various published inventories, and leaves the choice of which inventories to use up to the person using it
    – Tristan
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 17:01
  • 1
    @user6726 quite right. PHOIBLE is certainly not a resource that should be taken at face value, especially when it comes to small differences between segments. As you say, it's mostly an annotated bibliography, but it is still sufficient to solve some questions without chasing down all the citations
    – Tristan
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 17:02

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.