Lexicostatistics  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Lexicostatistics is a method of comparative linguistics that involves comparing the percentage of lexical cognates between languages to determine their relationship. Lexicostatistics is related to the comparative method but does not reconstruct a proto-language. It is to be distinguished from glottochronology, which attempts to use lexicostatistical methods to estimate the length of time since two or more languages diverged from a common earlier proto-language. This is merely one application of lexicostatistics, however; other applications of it may not share the assumption of a constant rate of change for basic lexical items.

The term "lexicostatistics" is misleading in that mathematical equations are used but not statistics. Other features of a language may be used other than the lexicon, though this is unusual. Whereas the comparative method used shared identified innovations to determine sub-groups, lexicostatistics does not identify these. Lexicostatistics is a distance-based method, whereas the comparative method considers language characters directly. The lexicostatistics method is a simple and fast technique relative to the comparative method but has limitations (discussed below). It can be validated by cross-checking the trees produced by both methods.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Lexicostatistics" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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