The Swadesh wordlist. An attempt at semantic specification
Alexei Kassian (Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences,; George Starostin (Russian State University for the Humanities / Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration,; Anna Dybo (Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow),
Journal of Language Relationship, № 4, 2010 - p.46-89
The paper is a thematical follow-up to the refinements of the lexicostatistical method suggested in [Starostin G. 2010]. It discusses the issue of synonymity/polysemy, a well-known obstacle in the compilation of Swadesh wordlists for various languages, and presents a list of both syntactic/semantic contexts and explanatory notes that could help reduce the ambiguity issue in the creation and quantitative analysis of such wordlists. The notes and contexts are partially based on linguistic tradition and partially on theoretical and/or pragmatic considerations, some of which are stated explicitly.
Keywords: lexicostatistics, glottochronology, comparative method, language relationship, semantic reconstruction, Swadesh wordlist