The curation repository for the data behind Concepticon.
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CLLD Concepticon

The data underlying the Concepticon of the CLLD project is maintained in this repository. Here, you can find

The repository also contains the sources of pyconcepticon, a python package providing an API to access and manipulate the Concepticon data.

Concepticon Data

  • For an overview on the status of all currently linked conceptlists, see here.
  • For basic information on metadata, see here.
  • For information on how you can contribute to the project or profit from the data sources we offer, see here.

Data Structure

  • conceptlists/ folder contains conceptlists with links to IDs in concepticon.tsv, the lists are named after the first person who proposed them, the year of the reference publication in which we extracted them, and the number of concepts. All these three parts of information are separated by a dash. Furthermore, in cases where two lists would have an identical name, we add alphabetical letters to the lists to distinguish them. Files need to have the columns "GLOSS" (some still have "ENGLISH" instead, but this needs to be changed), additionally, most (if not all files) have a "NUMBER" field indicating the number in the reference, which is also important for ordering the entries as given in the original source. Additional columns are more or less free to the user, but we tried to be consistent.
  • conceptlists.tsv contains metadata about the lists in conceptlists/.
  • references/references.bib the bibtex file showing links to all concept lists (bibtex-key identical to the name of the conceptlist file, without file-ending. File further contains links to the references in which the conceptlists were published (references stored in the "crossref" field).
  • sources/ contains pdf-files of each conceptlist (only the list-parts, not the full publications for copyright reasons), naming is the same as for the conceptlists, but with the ending ".pdf" instead of ".tsv".
  • concepticon.tsv the backbone concept list. All concepts from individual concept lists are linked to entries in this file.
  • concept_set_meta/ contains lists of metadata, relating concept sets to additional information, e.g. on Wikipedia. These lists are described by accompanying metadata files following the recommendations of the Model for Tabular Data and Metadata on the Web.

Update policy

We try to release concepticon-data (as well as the concepticon web app) regularly at least once a year. Generally, new releases should only become more comprehensive, i.e. all data ever released should also be part of the newest release. Occasionally, though, we may have to correct an erratum, which may result in some data being removed, or changes in identifiers of objects. So whenever a link to the web app breaks or a script using the concepticon-data API throws an error, you should consult the list of errata to see, whether an error correction may be the reason for this behaviour.


Build Status


While pyconcepticon can be installed from PyPI, this has the drawback that additionally, a clone or export of the data repository is required and its location needs to be passed whenever invoking the pyconcepticon API. Thus, we recommend installation of pyconcepticon from a local clone of this repository, i.e. by running:

pip install -e .

in the top-level directory of your clone of concepticon-data. This way, pyconcepticon will correctly infer the location of the data from the location of its own source.


To use pyconcepticon you must have a local copy of the Concepticon data, i.e. either

  • the sources of a released version, as provided in the Downloads section of a release, or
  • a clone of this repository (or your personal fork of it).

Assuming you have downloaded release 1.0.2 and unpacked the sources to a directory concepticon-data-1.0.2, you can access the data as follows:

>>> from pyconcepticon.api import Concepticon
>>> api = Concepticon('concepticon-data-1.0.2')
>>> conceptlist = api.conceptlists.values()[0]
# If you're using Python 3.x, rather run the following:
# conceptlist = list(api.conceptlists.values())
# concept_list[0].author) # etc.
u'Phillipe Mennecier and John Nerbonne and Evelyne Heyer and Franz Manni'
>>> conceptlist.tags
>>> len(conceptlist.concepts)
>>> conceptlist.concepts.values()[0]
Concept(id=u'Mennecier-2016-183-1', number=u'1', concepticon_id=u'619', concepticon_gloss=u'ANIMAL', gloss=None, english=u'animal', attributes={u'russian': u'\u0436\u0438\u0432\u043e\u0442\u043d\u043e\u0435', u'swadesh_id': u'44', u'english_1': u'animal'})
>>> api.bibliography.values()[0]
Reference(id=u'Mennecier2016', type=u'article', record={u'doi': u'10.1163/22105832-00601015', u'author': u'Phillipe Mennecier and John Nerbonne and Evelyne Heyer and Franz Manni', u'journal': u'Language Dynamics and Change', u'title': u'A Central Asian language survey', u'number': u'1', u'volume': u'6', u'year': u'2016', u'pages': u'57\u201398'})

Having installed pyconcepticon, you can also directly query concept lists via the terminal command concepticon. For example, to learn about the intersection between two or more lists, you can type:

$ concepticon intersection Swadesh-1955-100 Swadesh-1952-200

This yields an output of 93 lines, which look as follows:

 69 *SKIN                    [763 ] SKIN (HUMAN) (1, Swadesh-1952-200)
 70  SLEEP                   [1585] 
 71  SMALL                   [1246] 
 72  SMOKE (EXHAUST)         [778 ] 

The output can interpreted as follows: The first number shows the number in the intersection of items (alphabetically ordered, following the Concepticon gloss). The Concepticon gloss is shown as a next item. If it is preceded by an asterisk, this means that the mapping was not complete, as it involves concept relations. The alternative concept sets are then listed in the end of the line. The number in squared brackets indicates the Concepticon concept set ID.

You can use the same technique with the command "union", to obtain the union of two consept lists.