Morris Swadesh (January 22, 1909 - July 20, 1967) was an Americanlinguist. Swadesh studied with Edward Sapir. He is famous for compiling the often varied Swadesh list, a list of common words which are essential to most languages, and used to determine the closeness of any pair of languages by so-called lexico-statistical techniques. For his proposal to use this list to compute the time-depth of languages, see glottochronology. January 22 is the 22nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1909 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... July 20 is the 201st day (202nd in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian Calendar, with 164 days remaining. ... 1967 (MCMLXVII) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The following is a list of linguists, those who study linguistics. ... Edward Sapir. ... A Swadesh list is a prescribed list of basic vocabulary developed by Morris Swadesh in the 1940-50s, which is used in glottochronology (lexicostatistical dating). ... Glottochronology was a linguistics method used to estimate the time of divergence of two related languages. ...
Swadesh was married to linguist Mary Haas. Mary Rosamund Haas (born January 12, 1910; died May 17, 1996) was a linguist who specialized in North American Indian languages, Thai, and historical linguistics. ...
Swadesh’s contribution was to develop a set of principles to help the phonologist discover phonemes on the basis of the distribution of sounds in a given language.
Even more controversially, Swadesh claimed that the “decay” of basic vocabulary could be used for 8220;glottochronology,”; the dating of ancestor languages analogous to determining the age of fossils on the basis of radioactive decay.
Swadesh came to believe that basic vocabulary decays with a rate of 14 percent over 1000 years, so languages would retain on average about 86 percent of their basic vocabulary over this time span.
He is famous for compiling the often varied Swadesh list, a list of common words which are essential to most languages, and used to determine the closeness of any pair of languages by so-called lexico-statistical techniques.
For his proposal to use this list to compute the time-depth of languages, see glottochronology.
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