Cultural Studies . Linguistics

Research report 2009 - Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Words as Migrants


Haspelmath, Martin


Linguistik (Prof. Dr. Bernard Comrie)
MPI für evolutionäre Anthropologie, Leipzig

Whenever languages come into contact with each other, lexical borrowing also takes place. Such loanwords can provide interesting information about historical relations. In working out the genealogical relationship of languages across long time periods, however, it is often difficult to decide whether words that sound similar are to be attributed to common ancestry or to the influence of contact. A comparative project of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology for the first time identifies general trends in lexical borrowing across the languages of the world.

For the full text, see the German version.

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