Independent scholar at Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

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In this position I continued my work on the Sound-Comparisons. In addition to it a new project by the name of IE-CoR (previously named CoBL and ielex2) came into focus.


I did contract work for different research projects to support teams with data-entry, collaboration, presentation and plumbing between different tools.

To do so I made use of Python, JavaScript, PHP and Java. Data was frequently kept in PostgreSQL or MariaDB instances. Deployments were handled both manually and using Docker.


I’d say one of ideas behind this project was to collect cognate relationships for some vocabulary so that later research can use it for phylogenetic analysis.

A screenshot of cognate sets in IE-CoR for the meaning 'fire'

More bluntly I’d say the idea was to support researchers in entering similarity data between words as well as some data on when these words were likely used so that they can later compute likely evolution graphs for languages.

A screenshot of markers on a map for the meaning 'fire'

Some tasks in scope of this project were:

As described on the project page a paper has been published in science, where further details can be found via and I’m happy to count myself among the contributors.


I continued to take care of the Sound-Comparisons codebase with several new features and bug fixes.

Project description

A detailed description of this project is made with Sound Comparisons: A New Resource for Exploring Phonetic Diversity across Language Families of the World. More information is available in this presentation (pdf) or at the project page [pdf].

To simplify I’d say the project makes use of a Swadesh list to compare different languages. Researchers then collect field data on these (endangered) languages from native speakers and carefully document their findings. Afterwards this data can be used for exploration or to measure divergence in phonetics between related languages, dialects and accents.

It was my pleasure to provide technical support to this project and build features as required for linguistic research.

Offline deployments

A new feature that struck me as particularly interesting was get the Sound-Comparisons website ready for offline deployments. The motivation behind this was to support fieldwork in remote areas.

A photo of the usb-sticks used for offline deployment in 2016

Offline deployments meant that the website would be accessed via file:// and be shipped on USB sticks. It was particular fun to render select areas of maps into files to keep the map features working as intended.

Screenshot of a select area of map tiles where some are missing because they're not in the area that's available offline