LINGUIST List 3.959

Fri 04 Dec 1992

Disc: Is Basic Vocabulary More Resistant to Change?

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Matthew Dryer, Basic Vocabulary

Message 1: Basic Vocabulary

Date: 01 Dec 1992 08:49:28 -0500Basic Vocabulary
From: Matthew Dryer <>
Subject: Basic Vocabulary

Alexis_Manaster_Ramer half-answered the question by
STEVEROYIDUI1.CSRV.UIDAHO.EDU asking whether Greenberg and Ruhlen assume
that basic vocabulary is more resistant to sound change, correctly saying
that they do not. But the other half of the answer is that Greenberg and
Ruhlen apparently assume that basic vocabulary IS more resistant to lexical
replacement so that after a long period of time, two distantly related
languages are more likely to share resemblances in basic vocabulary than in
nonbasic vocabulary. In addition, they apparently assume that basic
vocabulary is more likely to survive than nonbasic vocabulary in words that
do not share the original meaning but have undergone semantic change. What
these two share is the idea that after long periods of time, basic
vocabulary is more likely to survive in cognates in daughter languages than
nonbasic vocabulary is.

Matthew Dryer
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