back to the syllabus
This assignment will be done in class on Thursday 17 December.
Look up the 50 words in the list given below in four languages: French, Italian, Spanish and German. There are several multilingual dictionaries on-line. You might also use AltaVista's translation service to translate this entire page; but beware when doing so of the vagaries of machine translation. You might want to translate the page back into English if you do use AltaVista's translator, just to see if that translation "wobbles."
Which of the five languages (including English) that you have data for are most closely related? Which are more distantly related? How many of these words are derived from a common source that feeds all five languages? How many lower-order sources can you identify (i.e. sources for words in two or three of the languages, but not in the other two or three)? Can you identify specific problem words, words that don't seem to fit your tree (see below), words that are "contaminants" from other sources?
Make a family tree of languages based on the data from these fifty words. Your tree might look something like this: