Cooking with CLICS

Robert Forkel just published a very nice cookbook example for our CLICS database (List et al. 2018f,, where you can find out how to manipulate the data further, apart from just installing it and running it to replicate our analyses.

This cookbook tells you how the underlying SQLITE database is structured and how you can, after installing CLICS and the respective packages, access the data to conduct studies of your own.

As a little example of what you can do with the new CLICS API, let me illustrate in this post, how we can use the old CLICS data (underlying the version 1.0 by List et al. 2014,, available from here, in the new application, specifically the standalone that we provide.

In order to get started, we begin by installing the pyclics API. For this, I assume that Python3 is installed in a recent version on our system, along with pip the command for downloading and installing new packages, and the version-control system git.

In order to install the pyclics API, simply type the following in your terminal:

$ git clone
$ cd clics2
$ pip install -e .

Now, you can install the old CLICS data underlying version 1.0.

$ pip install -e git+

In addition, you need to install pyglottolog and pyconcepticon, but not with pip, but rather as local clones (as you need to know where they are installed. So we recommend to install both packages by opening your terminal in your preferred folder (ideally the one where you installed pyclics).

$ cd ..
$ git clone
$ cd concepticon-data
$ pip install -e .
$ cd ..
$ git clone
$ pip install -e .
$ cd ..

Now you can load the data into your personal CLICS database by simply typing:

$ clics load ./concepticon-data ./glottolog

In order to calculate the colexification network, just type:

$ clics -t 2 colexification

In order to create a standalone application for the data which you can put on a server or browse (when using Firefox as webbrowser) even locally, type:

$ clics -t 2 communities
$ clics -t 3 subgraph

You will find the application in the path clics2/app/. Just click on the file index.html and open it, and you can see an interface that reminds of the old “look-and-feel” of CLICS.

If you want to have a closer look at the network without following all the code examples above, you can also directly access it at, where we have uploaded the version that we created ourselves in order to test this example.


List, J.-M., T. Mayer, A. Terhalle, and M. Urban (eds.) (2014): CLICS: Database of Cross-Linguistic Colexifications. Version 1.0. Forschungszentrum Deutscher Sprachatlas: Marburg.

List, J.-M., S. Greenhill, C. Anderson, T. Mayer, T. Tresoldi, and R. Forkel (eds.) (2018): CLICS: Database of Cross-Linguistic Colexifications. Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History: Jena.

Cite this article as: Johann-Mattis List, "Cooking with CLICS," in Computer-Assisted Language Comparison in Practice, 08/08/2018,

Author: Johann-Mattis List

Seit Anfang 2017 bin ich leitender Wissenschaftler am Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte in Jena, in der Abteilung für sprachliche und kulturelle Evolution. In meiner Forschung nehme ich generell einen datenbasierten, empirischen und quantitativen Standpunkt in Bezug auf Sprachwandel und Sprachgeschichte ein, mit einem speziellen Fokus auf südostasiatischen Sprachen. Im Gegensatz zu rein computerbasierten Ansätzen versuche ich jedoch, meine Forschung nah an der traditionellen historischen Linguistik und der linguistischen Theorie auszurichten, weshalb ich einen computer-gestützten Ansatz im Gegensatz zu einem rein computer-basierten Ansatz verfolge.

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