Article published in:Quantitative Approaches to Linguistic Diversity: Commemorating the centenary of the birth of Morris Swadesh
Edited by Søren Wichmann and Anthony P. Grant
[Benjamins Current Topics 46] 2012
► pp. 113–137
How to get more out of ‘word list’ comparisons
This article surveys various long-standing ambiguities and confusions that continue to dog lexicostatistics and glottochronology. I aim to offer some novel perspectives and clarifications, which also help map out how we might devise new, alternative methods to build upon the good in Swadesh’s troubled legacy. I challenge the recent trend towards honing down Swadesh’s original list to a minimal core. A richer signal on language relationships is to be had not by discarding the data in meanings considered ‘unstable’, but by exploring the revealing patterns that emerge only when those meanings are kept, and contrasted against their ‘core’ counterparts.
Published online: 26 September 2012
Cited by 1 other publications
Dinu, Liviu P. & Alina Maria Ciobanu
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