World Christian Database

Ethnologue updates

The Ethnologue has been one of the pillars of the World Christian Database classification of ethnolinguistic peoples since before Ethnologue's 11th edition of 1988. Since then Ethnologue codes have become the basis of the ISO 639 standard for the representation of names of languages, and Ethnologue itself is now published through a combination of electronic and printed editions.

The 17th edition of the "Ethnologue: Languages of the World" dataset was published online in December 2013 and became available in print form (in 3 volumes) in late 2014. Meantime the 18th edition of the Ethnologue database has also become available online. Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2015. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Eighteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version:

The editing cycle of the World Christian Database allows for a relatively quick update of changed Ethnologue (and hence ISO) language codes with each new online edition, while analysis and incorporation of new languages generally awaits the printed edition.

This quarter sees the addition of newly discovered languages from the Ethnologue's 17th printed edition for about half of the world's countries with the remainder to follow in October.

Methodological update: Information on the WCD's taxonomy of the world's ethno-linguistic people groups is also added this quarter to the methodology document.