South American Phonological Inventory Database (SAPhon v2.1.0)


We are dedicated to improving the comprehensiveness and accuracy of the SAPhon dataset, and are therefore very interested in incorporating additions and corrections suggested by experts in particular languages or language families. We are interested in any suggestions to improve the dataset, from the addition and correction of inventories to more accurate name and location information. Please see below for information relevant to particular types of additions or corrections.

If you have additions or corrections to suggest, please contact us at with the addition or correction you wish to suggest. We will attempt to respond promptly to your message. Note also that we plan to accumulate changes and make multiple changes to the SAPhon dataset at once, so there may be some delay between when a suggestion is made and when it is implemented. Once changes have been made we will iterate the version number of the SAPhon dataset and announce the changes on the updates page.

When suggesting an addition or correction, it will be helpful to us if you can be explicit about the information source upon which that suggestion is based. A published resource is ideal, but we recognize that such resources are not available in all cases. Below we discuss a number of issues relating to several addition or correction types.

Phonological inventory: When suggesting changes to a phonological inventory for a particular language, it will be helpful if you can specify the change in as explicit a manner as possible (e.g. by using both IPA symbols and an articulatory description), and provide a discussion that explains why the change is called for.

If suggesting a new publication that you believe is superior to the publication(s) from which we have harvested an inventory, it would be especially helpful if you were able to forward the publication in digital format, if it is not readily available on-line. In some cases, we have found potentially valuable publications difficult or impossible to obtain, and any assistance in locating such resources would be much appreciated.

Language Name: In selecting language names, we seek to balance the need to use names that are easily recognized by linguists with the preferences of the speakers of the language (i.e. the use of autonyms). We are eager, however, to avoid using language names that are deemed pejorative by the speakers of the languages in question (e.g. 'Makú'). In many cases, however, we do not have the ethnographic expertise to make that decision, and will therefore benefit from the suggestions of specialists. There is also the distinct issue of orthographic representation of a given language name. In this case we have attempted to defer to the current preferences of specialists working with that language or language family, and we are happy to alter these forms on the advice of specialists.

Location: When suggesting a change in the location of the marker, please provide latitude and longitude coordinates (e.g 15.350 S, 69.810 W), as prose descriptions of the location can lead to errors on our part. If you can accurately identify the location on a map, but do not have latitude and longitude coordinates for the location, please consider either using a tool like Google Earth to obtain the coordinates, or send us a scan of a map with the correct location indicated on the map.

When considering suggesting a correction to the location of a language, please keep in mind that the current version of the SAPhon map uses a single point to indicate the location of a language, which inevitably introduces a degree of approximation into the spatial representation. For languages with large continuous distributions, we must pick a single point within that distribution, and for languages with discontinuous distributions we must do likewise. We are, or course, receptive to suggestions for changes in these latter cases, but approximations are unavoidable.