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PHOIBLE is a database of phonological inventories and distinctive features, encompassing more than 3000 phonological inventories (doculects), representing more than 2100 ISO 639-3 language codes. PHOIBLE data is published in browsable form online at PHOIBLE Online, which corresponds with the most recent release of this repository.

Data in machine-readable form is available in this repository. It is not guaranteed to exactly match what is published at PHOIBLE Online, due to the occasional discovery and correction of errors, and the addition of new languages to the database. For this reason, it is recommended that you make use of the most recent release in your own analyses, rather than working from the tip of the master branch.

Documentation for PHOIBLE is hosted at at, including notational conventions, departures from official IPA usage, citation information, etc.

How to use this repository

Most people will not need to look beyond the data folder of this repository, which contains a phoneme-level data file (one row per languoid-phoneme pair) and a BibTeX file of all the data sources. The rest of the repo contains scripts used in the development and testing of PHOIBLE, such as code to aggregate the raw data files from the various donor databases. These are probably not of general interest or utility. The raw-data directory contains the raw data from the various donor data sources, as well as the feature mapping tables. This is also probably not what you want, so if in doubt, stick to the data directory.


If you are citing the database as a whole, or making use of the phonological distinctive feature systems in PHOIBLE, please cite as follows:

Moran, Steven & McCloy, Daniel (eds.) 2019. PHOIBLE 2.0. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. (Available online at DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.2626687

If you are citing phoneme inventory data for a particular language or languages, please use the name of the language as the title, and include the original data source as an element within PHOIBLE. For example:

UCLA Phonological Segment Inventory Database. 2019. Lelemi sound inventory (UPSID). In: Moran, Steven & McCloy, Daniel (eds.) PHOIBLE 2.0. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. (Available online at

If you are using the raw data from this repository but are not using a labeled release, we recommend citing using the last commit hash at the time of your most recent cloning/forking of the repository, so that others can reproduce your work starting from the same snapshot of the repository that you are using. For example:

Moran, Steven & McCloy, Daniel (eds.) 2019. PHOIBLE.


PHOIBLE was originally developed as an SQL database and RDF knowledgebase for Moran’s dissertation, which explains many of the technical details and developmental challenges:

Moran, Steven. 2012. Phonetics Information Base and Lexicon. PhD thesis, University of Washington.

Here is a brief list of some publications that we have used PHOIBLE data for:

  • Blasi, Damián, Steven Moran, Scott Moisik, Paul Widmer, Dan Dediu, & Balthasar Bickel. 2019. Human sound systems are shaped by post-Neolithic changes in bite configuration. Science 363(6432), eaav3218. doi:10.1126/science.aav3218

  • Cysouw, Michael, Dan Dediu and Steven Moran. 2012. Still No Evidence for an Ancient Language Expansion from Africa. Science, 335(6069):657. doi:10.1126/science.1208841

  • Moran, Steven. 2012. Using Linked Data to Create a Typological Knowledge Base. In Christian Chiarcos, Sebastian Nordhoff and Sebastian Hellmann (eds), Linked Data in Linguistics: Representing and Connecting Language Data and Language Metadata. Springer, Heidelberg.

  • Moran, Steven, Daniel McCloy, and Richard Wright. 2012. Revisiting Population Size vs. Phoneme Inventory Size. Language 88(4): 877-893. doi:10.1353/lan.2012.0087

  • Moran, Steven and Damián Blasi. 2014. Cross-linguistic Comparison of Complexity Measures in Phonological Systems. In Frederick J. Newmeyer and Laurel Preston (eds), Measuring Grammatical Complexity. Oxford UP, Oxford.

A more complete list of research papers using PHOIBLE can be found on Google Scholar.

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