Dardic languages and lexicostatistics (the 50item wordlist approach)
Anton Kogan (Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, kogan_anton@yahoo.com)
Journal of Language Relationship, № 13/3-4, 2015 - p.355-370
Dardic languages of different subgroups share more than 50% of cognates on the Swadesh 100-item wordlist. Because of this, traditional lexicostatistics seems to be the method of choice for the study of their internal classification. At the same time, the percentage of lexicostatistical matches between languages of the Dardic group, on the one hand, and languages that belong to other branches of Indo-Iranian, on the other, frequently drops below 40%. This fact makes it advisable to also conduct lexicostatistical calculations on the reduced 50-item “ultra-stable” wordlist in order to establish the exact genetic position of Dardic languages within the Indo-Iranian subfamily. In this paper, I present the results of such a study. It must be noted that the reduction of the number of items from 100 to 50 also makes it possible to subject more idioms to lexicostatistical analysis; for instance, one can now add the (limited) data of several Dardic languages which have escaped strong Indo-Aryan influence. Results of the analysis show that the average percentage of cognates between Dardic and Indo-Aryan does not differ much from the respective percentages between Dardic and Iranian.
Keywords: lexicostatistics, 50-item wordlist, language classification, Indo-Iranian languages, Dardic languages, Indo-Aryan languages