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Turkish example[edit]

Turkish example is particularly bad for glottochronology because Turkish language was reconstructed by Ata Turk administration in 1920s. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:26, 3 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 9 February 2021 and 22 May 2021. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Josierodell.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 22:28, 16 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I have attempted to reduce the high amount of redundances, due to uncontrolled insertions, by a clearer subgrouping. Perhaps someone can improve that even more. Please accept the slight reduction of the highly overweighted space devoted to the Starostin method.HJJHolm (talk) 09:12, 29 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

(McWhorter page number needed)[edit]

I searched the book, but wasn't able to find this mentioned. Since this is a fairly general concept, we should either take out the reference or change it to another one. --CRGreathouse 05:41, 12 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Bibliography is t e r r i b l y outdated. I added some newer work on this field. User: HJJHolm 14:00 METm 25 may 2006. This is still and the more true 2020-12-16. HJHolm (talk) 16:50, 16 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]


... his assumption has been demonstrated as the basic error, because it neglects the dependence of this percentage on three further factors.

Up to this point there is no mention of controversy. Does "basic error" mean the science is invalid? What three factors? This needs to be better introduced and clarified. Michael Z. 2006-09-21 23:23 Z

See any basic statistics textbook.

Romance is a bad example[edit]

Thus, glottochronology shows Latin to have split into Romance vernaculars around the 1st-3rd centuries A.D., exactly when the process was supposedly taking place.

That is a bad proof. When Swadesh developed the technique, he calibrated it by setting the coefficients according to data from well-known families (the article should mention which ones). I very much doubt that he not tried Romance languages. Hence, this example has no predictive power. To proove the hypothesis, Glottochronology should be applied to a relation not tested by Swadesh in his calibrations and the results be compared with those from history, archeology or whatever. Remove the example or substitute it. --Error 18:57, 28 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree the example is not good. Well, glottochronology HAS been applied to a lot of territory not tested by Swadesh: Chinese, Japanese, Semitic, Turkic (I am only mentioning families where the data are at least partially verifiable through extra-linguistic means). No significant divergences here.Gstarst 09:19, 2 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New revisions partially reverted[edit]

The following comment is specially for Hans Holm, whose latest series of revisions I have partially retained and partially dared to cancel:

It is very pleasant to see Prof. Holm take a somewhat more objective stand on the issue and add some important factual data, for which I and all the readers of Wikipaedia should be grateful. However, I still had no choice but to eliminate some of the recent changes, for the following reasons:

a) typos and grammatical errors (no one is immune to this, but the text SHOULD be readable);

b) discussion intonations (phrases like "Please note that this is...", etc.) sound like they belong on this discussion page, not on the main one;

c) the rewrite was obviously incomplete, leading to duplicate entries (e. g. the Bergsland & Vogt argument is first shown by me as overcome by Starostin's method, THEN reintroduced again in the critical section as a serious obstacle!);

d) argumentation that should have first been resolved on the talk page, where Prof. Holm is no longer responding. For instance (to quote two passages that I have omitted, although I have tried to incorporate the argumentation from the first one elsewhere):

Another line of arguments is represented by Haarmann (e.g. 1990), who demonstrated that there is no region of the vocabulary "safe" from being changed, as has been argued by glottochronologists, e.g. parts of the body, colour terms, numbers, or pronouns.

This statement is objectively wrong in two possible ways, depending on what is meant by "no region of the vocabulary safe from being changed". If this means that "some of the items on the 100 wordlist can never ever be replaced", then it is wrong, because no glottochronologist (at least, no SERIOUS glottochronologist who actually worked with specific lists) has ever said that. If this means "some of the items on the 100 wordlist can very very rarely be replaced", then, obviously, Haarmann could not have demonstrated that on his limited selection of examples; a much more global analysis would be in order.

For example, English did not replace about50 % of its originally Germanic vocabulary 'by time', but by Norman dominance after the battle of Hastings, besides a long-lasting educational background of Latin. Though this event changed only one or two percent of "the" (depends on the version) Swadesh 100-wordlist, there are six items changed already before by Viking influence. Please note that this is a difference in quantity, not in reasons and computability.

Apart from sounding like part of a discussion (see above), this also makes little sense AFTER the introduction of the Starostin argument. Viking or norman influence, the items on the list either remain as entities or are replaced by borrowings. When forms are borrowed from closely related languages - so that it is sometimes hard to distinguish a borrowing from an 'ancient' word without a good knowledge of the correspondences - this creates limited technical difficulties for the method, but does not invalidate its essence. And I already said that before.

Another example is Albanian, which changed 90% of its Indo-European heritage, and still about 75% in the Swadesh list, mainly by Roman dominance, later by South-Slavonian influence.

This phrase will lead the reader to believe that 75% in the Albanian Swadesh list have been replaced under the influence of (aka: by borrowings from) Latin and Slavic languages. This is false. The actual figure, just by looking at the wordlist, is closer to 15, at most 20%. On the other hand, Albanian and, for instance, Tokharian A, share about 20% common words on the list, which is more or less what we expect from them. This can hardly represent Tokharian influence on Albanian.Gstarst 10:50, 9 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would be happy to see this Albanian word list referred to. Can You give me the source?HJJHolm (talk) 17:56, 24 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The wordlist we use for the calculations was compiled by Vladimir Oryol (author of the "Albanian Etymological Dictionary") and is in STARLING form; I will be happy to share, but you will need to download the software from our site ( However, just about any existing wordlist for Albanian will do - e. g. the one found here: (Note, please, that my figures refer to the 100-wordlist; for the 200-wordlist the figures may be slightly higher, since we are bringing in less stable lexemes).Gstarst (talk) 19:45, 24 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would further be happy about any corrections to my not at all perfect English or any typos. Thank you.HJJHolm (talk) 17:56, 24 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

After 14 years: Thanks for the positive words and corrections. However, the whole chapter is still dominated, as it has been for 30 years, by completely outdated literature and the absolute overvaluation of the approaches of George Starostin, who for years prevented and apparently still prevents any attempt to give fair consideration to other and important scientific approaches in a nationalistic and egoistic manner. Since I did not get any support then, I had to give up my attempts and can only refer to the scientific literature that can be found on the Internet (e.g., Sheila Embleton, Tandy Warnow, Hans J. Holm, and many others). Extreme caution should be exercised when authors describe their own approach as "perfect" (Ringe) or "objective" (Starostin 2014), thereby disparaging colleagues as less perfect or less objective.2A02:8108:9640:AC3:8BB:573B:1E15:1C38 (talk) 15:56, 22 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Bibliographical Data Missing[edit]

Bibliographical data is missing in the "results"-section. I suspect that most of it is taken from Fox.[1] This is a bit annoying since you won't find any of the articles in the web, because almost all pages took the information from wikipedia. Limajo (talk) 07:40, 20 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Fox, A. (1995): Linguistic Reconstruction. New York: Oxford University Press


I believe that since glottochronology has been criticized based on some analysis, a comprehensive criticism section should be introduced to deal with the scholarly work which scientifically addresses the problems with methods of glottochronology.Grathmy (talk) 20:45, 6 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The equations Aren't[edit]

An "equation" like this one

where L is the rate of replacement, ln is the logarithm to base e, and r is the glottochronological constant

cannot hold: has a dimension while the right hand side is dimensionless. Either there is something missing in the definition of (namely the time period where the replacements occur) or there is some constant on the right hand side missing introducing the unit of measurement. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:23, 27 January 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Reynold Klooker's work[edit]

I have just looked at a paper on glottochronology by Reynold Klooker, posted on It would be helpful if somebody with expertise in the topic would examine Klooker's paper and explain his new ideas in this article. Pete unseth (talk) 14:07, 2 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]