Application of current lexicostatistical methods to Germanic, Romance and Wakashan

Sheila Embleton


Current lexicostatistical methods are able to take account of both rates of change due to replacement and rates of change due to borrowing when reconstructing the family tree for a group of related languages. Thus these methods represent a significant "improvement over previous lexicostatistical methods, such as glottochrono1ogy or hierarchical cluster analysis. In the present paper, the computer-implemented method is applied in turn to 16 Germanic languages, to 8 Romance languages, and to 4 Wakashan languages. In all cases, results in accord with a large body of linguistic opinion are obtained, even where pidgins and creoles are involved, indicating that such lexicostatistical methods can be successful for natural language data.


Lexicostatistics; reconstruction; borrowing; piddgins; creoles; Romance; Germanic; Wakashan

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