The Global Lexicostatistical Database: General information











The Global Lexicostatistical Database (GLD) is a special side project of the international program «Tower of Babel / Evolution of Human Language». Its major goal is to put together and make ava­i­lable, for specialists and the general public alike, the most complete and thoroughly annotated collection of basic wordlists of the world's languages (commonly known as «Swadesh word­lists», named after the American linguist Morris Swadesh who both devised the con­cept and came up with the original wordlist that is still frequently used today).


Citation: For general citation purposes, we recommend that this work as a whole be cited as:


Starostin, George (ed.) 2011-2019. The Global Lexicostatistical Database. Moscow: Higher School of Economics, & Santa Fe: Santa Fe Institute. Available online at, accessed on [date of accession].


Individual wordlists should be quoted in accordance with the title of the respective PDF file and with reference to their author(s) / compiler(s) (always indicated at the bottom of the General Description section of each database), e.g.:


Zhivlov, Mikhail. Annotated Swadesh wordlists for the Ob-Ugrian group (Uralic family). 2011. Online version at: Starostin, George (ed.) 2011-2019. The Global Lexicostatistical Database, Moscow: Higher School of Economics, & Santa Fe: Santa Fe Institute.


Click on the links above to access:



List of the latest database updates and user interface modifications.

Mission statement

Brief description of the main goals and challenges of the GLD.

GLD specifics

What makes the GLD different from other similar projects.


Information on the people behind the project.


Improvements that can be expected in the future.


How you can help the project.


Various stuff to make life more easy / more interesting.


List of GLD-related publications in scientific journals and other sources.


The following auxiliary tutorials/papers (also accessible from the main database page) are available as well:


The Global Lexicostatistical Database: General Description

                       A theoretical/technical outline of the database ideology and structure.

The Global Lexicostatistical Database: A Quick Tutorial

                       Compact information on how to use the system for various purposes.

Unified Transcription System for the GLD

                       A general guide to the transcription system into which all the data are transliterated.

An Introduction to Preliminary Lexicostatistics

                       A paper that discusses the general importance of and new approaches to lexicostatistics.

Semantic Specification of Swadesh List Items

                       A «guideline» paper on how to properly compile 100-wordlists for optimal results.

Experimental Tree-Building Procedures

                       A set of preliminary and/or experimental «deep-level» results in lexicostatistical classification.


BACK TO MAIN PAGE                                   DATABASE LIST                              RUSSIAN VERSION


     © 2011-2016 George Starostin (site design, data input coordination)
    © 2011-2016 Phil Krylov (programming, technical support)