Swadesh lists

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Swadesh lists are a tool of glottochronology, proposed by Maurice Swadesh in 1950. They are lists of prescribed items of basic vocabulary (variously featuring 100, 200 or 207 items) in two or more related languages. The closeness of the relationship of the languages is suggested to be roughly proportional to the number of cognate words present in the list. The reason that a fixed set of concepts is used, rather than a list of arbitrary words, is that the basic vocabulary learned during early childhood is assumed to change very slowly over time. Note that the task of counting the number of cognate words in the list is far from trivial, and may be subjected to dispute, because cognates do not necessarily look similar, and recognition of cognates presupposes knowledge of the sound laws of the respective languages. Even in cases where the number of cognates is undisputed, use of Swadesh lists for dating is disputed, because of the underlying assumption that the rate of replacement of basic vocabulary is constant over long periods of time. While Swadesh lists are a useful tool to get a rough idea, mainstream historical linguistics is usually very sceptical about claims of relatedness based on Swadesh lists exclusively.

The use of Swadesh lists in glottochronology was most popular during the 1960s and 1970s, after which enthusiasm waned and the discussion of the method's merit became emotional, leading to a temporary demise of the method. Refinements since the early 1970s include the incorporation of a geographical dimension into the equations, accounting for borrowing.

Whilst the use of Swadesh lists for absolute dating remains controversial, they have gained popularity in the field of translation in defining core concepts that are universal to all human languages.

Swadesh lists for several languages follow [the set of lists will be updated progressively]. The basic words (in English) are followed by words in the respective language on the next line, then by a phonetic transcription where necessary.

Contents

Athonite

Athonite Swadesh List

Kerno

I you we this that who? what? no(t) all a lot
ieo ty nus c' yst c' ell que que ne tots mult
[Z@] [ti] [nEs] [sIst] [sEl] [ke] [ke] [nE] [tot] [mujt]
one two big long zmall human man woman vish bird
yen daw magan llong becks om gouirs gouedna peskis tenós
[ZEn] [daw] [ma3Vn] [loN] [bEk] [Vm] [wejr] [wEna] [pEskIs] [tEnos]
dog louse tree zeed leaf root (tree-)bark skin meat blood
qy lous bellets semen folea razecks qerts rousquès caró sancoues
[ku] [lus] [bElEts] [sEmEn] [folE@] [raDEk] [kert] [ruskEs] [karo] [saNkwEs]
bone (body-)vat egg head horn tail veather hair ear eye
ossès grasa ous pednis cornows codès pedna cabels orels ochels
[osEs] [gras@] [us] [pEnIs] [kornow] [kodEs] [pEn@] [kavEjs] [orEjs] [oxEjs]
nose mouth tooth tongue (finger-)nail leg knee hand stomach neck
nasó bucca dentis tengets angouens cambis geonó lams geoelems guthelucks
[naso] [buk@] [dEnt] [tENgEt] [aNgwEn] [kambIs] [ZEno] [lam] [ZElEm] [guTEluk]
breast heart liver drink eat bite zee hear know zleep
pocín cors íceneors beveoir comezer morder gouider other saber dormir
[posin] [kors] [isEnEr] [bEvoejr] [komEDer] [morDer] [wiDer] [oTer] [saver] [dormir]
die kill zwim vly go come lie (down) sit stand give
morer godnether nazar goueolar ir gouednir reclinar seder ystar dar
[morer] [gonETer] [naDar] [wolar] [ir] [wEnir] [reklinar] [sEDer] [istar] [dar]
zay Zun Moon star water rain stone zand earth cloud
far Sulis Reoa rezlant acoua llougouea acona cravella Tira nevoels
[far] [sulIs] [ru@] [rEDlant] [akw@] [plowE@] [akon@] [kravEl@] [tir@] [nEvol]
smoke vire ash burn road mountain red green yellow white
fuma tanis pumès ardever ystraza crags rudd gouereds llawis blanck
[fum@] [tanIs] [pumEs] [ardEver] [istraDa] [krag] [ruD] [werED] [flawIs] [blank]
black night hot cold vull new good round dry name
dufs nock calez frigets llen new dack rotund secca nom
[duf] [nox] [kalED] [friZEt] [plan] [nuw] [dax] [rotund] [sEk@] [nVm]

Jovian

I you we this that who? what? no(t) all a lot
eo tu nos id-ic id-il ci? cod? nau tozu muodu
[e@] [tu] [nAs] [i'diC] [i'dil] [ki] [kA] [no] [to:z] [mu@d]
one two big long small human man woman fish bird
une duo mangu longu puolu hoeme omme feima pix aeve
[u:n] [du@] [maNg] [lANg] [pu@l] [hAjm] [Am] [fejm] [piS] [ajv]
dog louse tree seed leaf root (tree-)bark skin meat blood
caene peize albur seime foelun raege coerce cuede carne soenge
[kajn] [pejz] ['alb@r] [sejm] ['fAjl@] [rajg] [kark] [ky@d] [karn] [saNg]
bone (body-)fat egg head horn tail feather hair ear eye
osse fette ouvun caefte corne cauza pluwa pfiolu ore ougul
[As] [fet] ['owv@] [kEft] [kArn] [kawz] [plu:v] [pfi@l] [o:r] [owg@l]
nose mouth tooth tongue (finger-)nail leg knee hand stomach neck
nasu ouscul dinde lionga ungul baene jene mane auvu coulun
[na:z] ['uSk@l] [dind] [liNg] ['uNg@l] [bajn] [je:n] [ma:n] [awv] ['kowl@]
breast heart liver to drink to eat to bite to see to hear to know to sleep
sinu corde iogur biver esser mordire uezire auzire xire dorwire
[si:n] [kArd] ['i@g@r] ['bi:v@r] ['ess@r] [mAr'di:r] [y'zi:r] [o'zi:r] [Si:r] [dAr'vi:r]
to die to kill to swim to fly to go to come to lie (down) to sit to stand to give
morire mactare nadare volare vare venire cueftare sezire tsare dare
[mA'ri:r] [m@x'ta:r] [n@'da:r] [vA'la:r] [va:r] [ve'ni:r] [kyf'ta:r] [se'zi:r] [tsa:r] [da:r]
to say sun moon star water rain stone sand earth cloud
diher sole luna tseola auga plueve laefte rena terra nueve
[di:r] [so:l] [lu:n] [tse@l] [awg] [ply@v] [lEft] [re:n] [tEr] [ny@v]
smoke fire ash to burn road mountain red green yellow white
fuwu inge hinner ardire vija monde ruoru uerde luedsu aubu
[fu:v] [iNg] ['hinn@r] [@r'di:r] [vi:] [mAnd] [ru@r] [yrd] [ly@dz] [awb]
black night hot cold full new good round dry name
ader noc caedu frizu plenu nouvu bonu roundu siccu noeme
[a:d@r] [nAx] [kajd] [fri:z] [ple:n] [nowv] [bo:n] [rund] [sik] [nAjm]

Xliponian

I you we this that who? what? no(t) all a lot
eco çu nos ete ate hi? hu? non çot mux
[‘eko] [tsu] [nos] ['ete] ['ate] [hi] [hu] [non] [tsot] [muʃ]
one two big long small human man woman fish bird
on tou maun lonc eqic om om vemma fiq aib
[on] [tow] [mawn] [loŋk] [e’tʃik] [om] [om] [‘vem:a] [fitʃ] [ajb]
dog louse tree seed leaf root (tree-)bark skin meat blood
hain fetixlo arpor semm voil raqi horçeq huiç haur sainc
[hajn] [fe’tiʃlo] [ar’por] [sem:] [vojl] [‘ratʃi] [hor’tsetʃ] [hujts] [hawr] [sajnk]
bone (body-)fat egg head horn tail feather hair ear eye
oq atef oub hauf hourn hauta fena hirn auri ouhul
[otʃ] [a’tef] [owb] [hawf] [howrn] [‘hawta] [‘fena] [hirn] [‘awri] [ow’hul]
nose mouth tooth tongue (finger-)nail leg knee hand stomach neck
naus puca teint lincua unca hurs ceun main bentr houl
[naws] [’puka] [tejnt] [lin’kua] [‘uŋka] [hurs] [kewn] [majn] [bentr] [howl]
breast heart liver to drink to eat to bite to see to hear to know to sleep
feq hor iecro piper mauncar moirer biter auter qier tormer
[fɛtʃ] [hor] [i’ekro] [pi’per] [mauŋ’kar] [moj’rer] [bi’ter] [aw’ter] [tʃi’er] [tor’mer]
to die to kill to swim to fly to go to come to lie (down) to sit to stand to give
morer oqider naçar bolar eçir bener humper asiter star tonar
[mo’rer] [otʃi’der] [na’tsar] [bo’lar] [e’tʃir] [be’ner] [hum’per] [asi’ter] [star] [to’nar]
to say sun moon star water rain stone sand earth cloud
tiqer soil luna qela acua xluib saq aren teir nupe
[ti’tʃer] [sojl] [‘luna] [‘tʃela] [a’kua] [ʃlujb] [satʃ] [a’ren] [tejr] [‘nupe]
smoke fire ash to burn road mountain red green yellow white
vum inci hin arter bia monn ruper biret valb alp
[vum] [‘iŋki] [hin] [ar’ter] [‘bia] [mon:] [ru’per] [bi’ret] [valb] [alp]
black night hot cold full new good round dry name
nicer noq halit virc xleun noub poun roçunn siq noim
[ni’ker] [notʃ] [ha’lit] [virk] [ʃlewn] [nowb] [pown] [ro’tsun:] [sitʃ] [nojm]

Croatian

I you we this that who? what? no(t) all a lot
ja ty my éto to tko kaj ne sve mnouhy
[ja] [ti] [mi] [ˈeːto] [to] [tko] [kaj] [ne] [sv̥e] [ˈmnoː.ɦi]
one two big long zmall human man woman vish bird
jeden dva věliky dolh mály človek muž žena ryba ptica
[ˈje.den] [dva] [ˈvje.ʎĭ.ki] [dolh] [ˈmaː.li] [ˈtʃlo.vek] [muʒ] [ˈʒe.na] [ˈri.ba] [ˈpci.tsa]
dog louse tree zeed leaf root (tree-)bark skin meat blood
pes úš drvo sěme list kořen kora kouža měso krv
[pes] [uːʃ] [ˈdr̩.vo] [ˈsje.me] [ʎist] [ˈko.r̝en] [ˈko.ra] [ˈkoː.ʒa] [ˈmje.so] [kr̩v]
bone (body-)vat egg head horn tail veather hair ear eye
kost mást jajce hláva roh řep péro vlasě ucho ouko
[kost] [maːst] [ˈjaj.tse] [ˈhlaː.va] [roh] [r̝ep] [ˈpeː.ro] [ˈvla.sje] [ˈu.xo] [ˈoː.ko]
nose mouth tooth tongue (finger-)nail leg knee hand stomach neck
nos usta zub jezyk noket noha kolěno ruka želudec vrat
[nos] [ˈus.ta] [zup] [ˈje.zik] [ˈno'ket] [ˈno.ɦa] [ˈko.ʎe.no] [ˈru.ka] [ˈʒe.lu.dets] [vrat]
breast heart liver drink eat bite zee hear know zleep
prsa srce jetra piti jesti hřisti viďeti čuti znáti spávati
[ˈpr̩.sa] [ˈsr̩.tse] [ˈjet.ra] [ˈpi.ci] [ˈjes.ci] [ˈhr̝is.ci] [ˈvi.ɟe.ci] [ˈtʃu.ci] [ˈznaː.ci] [ˈspaː.va.ci]
die kill zwim vly go come lie (down) sit stand give
umřeti ubiti plavati létěti iťi doťi ležati sěditi státi dáti
[u.ˈmr̝e.ci] [ˈu.bi.ci] [ˈpla.va.ci] [ˈleː.ce.ci] [ˈi.ci] [ˈdo.ci] [ˈle.ʒa.ci] [ˈsje.ɟi.ci] [ˈstaː.ci] [ˈdaː.ci]
zay Zun Moon star water rain stone zand earth cloud
řéťi solnce měsec zvězda voda dážd kámen pěsek zemľa oblak
[ˈr̝eː.ci] [ˈsoln.tse] [ˈmje.sets] [ˈzvjez.da] [ˈvo.da] [daːʒd] [ˈkaː.men] [ˈpje.sek] [ˈzem.ʎa] [ˈob.lak]
smoke vire ash burn road mountain red green yellow white
dym požar pepel hořeti cesta planina / hora crven / rďeč zelen žolt běl
[dim] [ˈpo.ʒar] [ˈpe.pel] [ˈho.r̝e.ci] [ˈtses.ta] [ˈpla.ɲi.na] / [ˈho.ra] [ˈtsr̩.ven] / [ˈr̩.ɟetʃ] [ˈze.len] [ʒolt] [bjel]
black night hot cold vull new good round dry name
crn nouť topel chladen polen nov dober kruhel such íme
[tsr̩n] [noːc] [ˈto.pel] [ˈxla.den] [ˈpo.len] [nov] [ˈdo.ber] [ˈkru.ɦel] [sux] [ˈiː.me]

Izhorian

I you (sg.) he we this that who? what? no(t) all
jaa ти jон ми гета сита ко шо не усе
[ja:] [ti] [jon] [mi] [hɛtɑ] [sitɑ] [ko] [ʃo] [nɛ] [usɛ]
a lot one two big long small human man woman fish
мога jынна ва вэлчæ доогo малча чалвыкка моожa жаана риба
[mohɑ] [jɤnːɑ] [vɑ] [væltʃæ] [doːho] [mɑltʃɑ] [tʃɑlvɤkːɑ] [moːʒɑ] [ʒa:nɑ] [ribɑ]
bird dog louse tree seed leaf root (tree-)bark skin meat
тушка сабакка вошша дырва семэ листи коранна каара суккура мэссэ
[tuʃkɑ] [sɑbɑkːɑ] [voʃːɑ] [dɤrvɑ] [sɛmæ] [listi] [korɑnːɑ] [kaːrɑ] [sukːurɑ] [mæsːæ]
blood bone (body-)fat egg head horn tail feather hair ear
кырва коста маска jаjка гаава рого вости пэрө ваасси вуука
[kɤrvɑ] [kostɑ] [mɑskɑ] [jɑjkɑ] [haːvɑ] [roho] [vosti] [pærø] [vaːsːi] [vuːkɑ]
eye nose mouth tooth tongue (finger-)nail leg knee hand stomach
вока нисэ рото зуба эзүччэ ноготта нага кыынна рука лудокка
[vokɑ] [nisæ] [roto] [zubɑ] [æzytʃːæ] [nohotːɑ] [nɑhɑ] [kɤːnːɑ] [rukɑ] [ludokːɑ]
neck breast heart liver drink eat bite see hear know
шиjэ руста шэрццэ пэчөнэ пиццэ jөссэ кусатта лэдэттэ чутта ведэццэ
[ʃijæ] [rustɑ] [ʃærtsːæ] [pætʃønæ] [pitsːæ] [jøsːæ] [kusɑtːɑ] [lædætːæ] [tʃutːɑ] [vɛdætsːæ]
sleep die kill swim fly go come lie (down) sit stand
паватта мерттэ бивэттэ лаватта лэтэттэ иссэ jэкэттэ лэжэццэ шэдеттэ таjатта
[pɑvɑtːɑ] [mɛrtːæ] [bivætːæ] [lɑvɑtːɑ] [lætætːæ] [isːæ] [jækætːæ] [læʒætsːæ] [ʃædɛtːæ] [tɑjɑtːɑ]
give say Sun Moon star water rain stone sand earth
даватта казатта сонцца месэццэ зорка вада дашта камынна пэсөккэ зэмлэ
[dɑvɑtːɑ] [kɑzɑtːɑ] [sontsːɑ] [mesætsːæ] [zorkɑ] [vɑdɑ] [dɑʃtɑ] [kɑmɤnːɑ] [pæsøkːæ] [zæmlæ]
cloud smoke fire ash burn road mountain red green yellow
воблакка дыма агонна попло гарытта дароога гара чырвын зөөнэ жоотo
[voblɑkːɑ] [dɤmɑ] [ɑhonːɑ] [poplo] [hɑrɤtːɑ] [dɑroːhɑ] [hɑrɑ] [tʃɤrvɤn] [zøːnæ] [ʒoːto]
white black night hot cold full new good round dry
белэ чорно ноччи гарча коодна пооно ново карша рукло суко
[bɛlæ] [tʃorno] [notʃːi] [hɑrtʃɑ] [koːdnɑ] [poːno] [novo] [kɑrʃɑ] [ruklo] [suko]
name - - - - - - - - -
jимэ - - - - - - - - -
[jimæ] - - - - - - - - -
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