Language Description Heritage

MPI Digital Library on language description and documentary materials.

Currently includes the Yanyuwa dictionary (that’s all for Australia at present).

This from Michael Cysouw:

it is my pleasure to announce the Language Description Heritage (LDH) open access digital library, available online at

The LDH is being compiled at the Max Planck Society in Germany, specifically at the MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig in cooperation with the Max Planck Digital Library in Munich.

The goal of the LDH is to make available existing descriptive and analytic work about the world’s languages. The main focus is to provide easy access to traditionally difficult to obtain scientific contributions. Specifically, there are many unpublished theses and manuscripts with valuable data on individual languages that are often unknown and unavailable to the wider linguistic community. Also many out-of-print publications with a limited availability in research libraries deserve a much wider audience and recognition.

To enhance to flow of scientific discussion, we offer this platform to make electronic version of said contributions freely available. The Language Description Heritage Digital Library minimally provides photographic scans, downloadable in PDF format (more is planned for the future). Most importantly, all content in this digital library is available under a permissive Creative Commons (CC-by) license, so everything can be freely used for all scientific purposes.

When you are the author and/or rights-holder of a suitable publication, please and consider making your works available under a CC-license. This is a very simply process. Basically, you sign a permission form ( and send this to us. Detailed instructions can be found at

We recommend you assign a bare CC-by (“Attribution”) license to your work, though you might also opt for an even freer CC-zero (“No Rights Reserved”, equivalent to “Public Domain”). Clear an open licensing enhances the exchange of scientific ideas. In choosing a license, please be aware that there is a difference between scientific recognition and commercial recognition of your work. Whatever license you choose for your work, this does not regulate scientific recognition!  To obtain more scientific recognition it is best to make your work as broadly and easily available as possible, so others can find and acknowledge your work without restriction. To enhance the exchange of scientific results, we recommend you to choose a highly permissive license.