I'm looking for a matrix of language pairs that shows some measure of their similarity. My main issue is that I don't know of heuristics that work well across different writing styles.

Wikipedia's lexical similarity article contains a table, but it only contains languages in the Indo-European family, is sparse, and I'm not sure what the lexical similarity coefficient is based on. I found this table of average Levenshtein distances of word pairs between languages, but that only words for languages that use similar alphabets.

Specifically, I'm looking for similarities between the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Bengali
  • Czech
  • Dutch
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hindi
  • Hungarian
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Swahili
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese

Does such a matrix exist? If not, is there an existing dataset can I use to generate one?

  • I've always seen it presented in chart form (which languages derive from what other language), but that wouldn't say anything about how close siblings are. You might try contacting the authors of Ethnologue : ethnologue.com
    – Joe
    Mar 24, 2014 at 16:07
  • I'm also looking for this, please let me know if you have found it. The ideal matrix would probably have a few dimensions per pair - lexical similarity, structural similarity, whether they use the same script and so on. For example Urdu and Hindi are close in one dimension but not so close in another, the ideal definition of distance really depends on the application. Jul 26, 2017 at 12:51
  • 1
    Hello @A.M.Bittlingmayer. I am sorry to say that I have not found a good language similarity matrix yet. Jul 26, 2017 at 12:52
  • @MatthewPiziak github.com/mayhewsw/wals seems useful. Jul 26, 2017 at 14:34
  • This article seems relevant. Sep 1, 2017 at 20:57

1 Answer 1


Check out the World Atlas of Language Structures. http://wals.info/


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