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LINGUIST List 21.551

Wed Feb 03 2010

FYI: World Loanword Database Release

Editor for this issue: Elyssa Winzeler <elyssalinguistlist.org>


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        1.    Martin Haspelmath, World Loanword Database Release

Message 1: World Loanword Database Release
Date: 02-Feb-2010
From: Martin Haspelmath <haspelmatheva.mpg.de>
Subject: World Loanword Database Release
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We are pleased to announce the World Loanword Database, a fully open-access
online resource, which has been released a few days ago:
http://wold.livingsources.org/.

The World Loanword Database contains detailed comparable information about
58,000 words from 41 languages, contributed by 41 (teams of) specialists,
and edited by Martin Haspelmath and Uri Tadmor from the Max Planck
Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig). The open-access online
version was programmed by Robert Forkel from the Max Planck Digital Library
(Munich).

The World Loanword Database answers questions such as:

-- How many languages have a borrowed word for ‘eye’?
(answer: 3 clear cases out of 41, http://wold.livingsources.org/meaning/4.21)
-- How many languages have a non-borrowed word for ‘police’?
(answer: 8 clear cases out of 41, http://wold.livingsources.org/meaning/23.33)
-- Which semantic areas of words are the most resistant to borrowing?
(answer: words expressing spatial relations, body parts, and sense
perception, see http://wold.livingsources.org/semanticfield/)
-- Which languages did English borrow words from, and how are they
distributed geographically?
(see the map on this page: http://wold.livingsources.org/language/13)

These data will allow us to distinguish better between lexical similarities
that are due to borrowing and similarities that are due to inheritance from
a common ancestor.

In conjunction with the online database, a book with three general chapters
and 41 chapters on particular languages was published by De Gruyter Mouton
(http://www.degruyter.de/cont/fb/sk/detailEn.cfm?id=IS-9783110218435-1).
One of the results of the project is an empirically based list of basic
vocabulary (the Leipzig-Jakarta list) which may complement the intuitively
based Swadesh list.

Martin Haspelmath & Uri Tadmor
(for the Loanword Typology project team)
(haspelmatheva.mpg.de, uricbn.net.id)

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics; Sociolinguistics; Typology

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