A Revisiting the Swadesh’s Wordlist How long should it be?

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Feda Negesse, PhD


The Swadesh’s wordlist has been used for more than half a century to collect data for studies in comparative and historical linguistics. The current study compares the classification results of the Swadesh’s100 wordlist with those of its subsets to determine if reducing the size of the wordlist impacts its effectiveness. In the comparison, the 100, 50 and 40 wordlists were used to compute lexical distances of 29 Cushitic and Semitic languages spoken in Ethiopia and neighboring countries. Gabmap, a based application, was employed to compute the lexical distances and to divide the languages into related clusters. The comparison shows that the subsets are not as effective as the 100 wordlist in clustering languages into smaller related subgroups, but they are equally effective in dividing languages into bigger groups such as subfamilies.

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How to Cite
Negesse, F. (2019). A Revisiting the Swadesh’s Wordlist. Gadaa Journal, 2(2), 11. Retrieved from http://journals.ju.edu.et/index.php/gadaa/article/view/457
Author Biography

Feda Negesse, PhD, Addis Ababa University

Addis Ababa University
Department of Linguistics