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The Universals Archive


Home Base Sprachwissenschaft
Universität Konstanz
78457 Konstanz
Tel: +49 7531 88-2656
Fax: +49 7531 88-4190
Archivist General: Frans Plank
eArchivist: Thomas Mayer
Archive Assistant: Tatsiana Mayorava
Honorary Archivist: Elena Filimonova
Dept. of Slavonic Studies
University of Cambridge
Cambridge, UK


Within the typology programme of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, 1996-2001, the remit of the project “Sprachbaupläne” was to collect and document linguistic universals that have been suggested in the relevant literature, in particular those of an implicational kind (“If a language has property [unit, category, rule, construction, pattern, …] X, then it will also have Y”). The main result of this project is The Universals Archive, since 2002 maintained with the support of the Fachbereich Sprachwissenschaft of the Universität Konstanz.

The Universals Archive is available in the form of a searchable archive, enabling its on-line users to retrieve universals in terms of any of the individual words or combinations of words that occur in their formulation or in their documentation. It is also possible just to browse through the Universals Archive.

The documentation of each universal includes its statement, approximately as in the original source (“Original”), somewhat standardized (“Standardized”), and possibly also formulaic (“Formula”). The fields “Keywords” and “Domain” classify universals by content. The fields “Type”, “Status”, and “Quality” classify universals by kind. So far as possible, “Basis” identifies the languages on which the universal is based, and “Source” gives author(s) and work(s) where it has been suggested. Known evidence potentially at odds with the universal is given in the field “Counterexamples”. “Comments” provides cross-references to other universals and possibly explanations of the terminology used in stating the universal and of its theoretical background.

Archiving and technical assistance over the years: Thilo Dannenmann, Arista Da Silva, Chiara Frigeni, Eike Hinner, Katrin Hockenjos, Shin-Sook Kim, Bernhard Metz, Emilia Nagy, Wolfgang Schellinger, Michael Schroff.

For help beyond the call of duty we thank:
Frank Kammerzell (Goettingen), contributing much counterevidence from Egyptian, Coptic, and Akkadian; Matthew Dryer (Buffalo), checking hundreds of word order universals; several universals proponents for authentication of their own universals, including Sonia Cristofaro (Pavia), Viktor Elshik (Praha), Elena Kalinina (Moskva), and it is hoped that many more will follow before long.

For a more detailed description, see The Universals Archive: A Brief Introduction for Prospective Users.