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You're interested in languages -- how they work, how they shed light on prehistory, anything. Wordcorr embodies the principles used to find out about language similarities and language history.
To work our way back to before written history, we have three kinds of tools:
  • comparative linguistics
  • archeology
  • genetics

Comparative linguistics starts with the straightforward observation that some languages are fairly similar to others in regard to vocabulary, grammar, and the way their speakers conceptualize the world. Think of French and Spanish, Russian and Polish, Tagalog and Ilocano.

Methodology. Linguists have a careful plan for sorting out the identities, similarities, and differences in all those areas. Very often things that seem similar turn out to be rare coincidences, or sometimes borrowings. So the linguist learns how to sort out consistent patterns of correspondence among languages, and to sideline the long shots.

In comparing words across languages, the linguists' plan leads us to recognize regular patterns of sound change that are shared by some languages but not others.

Read Lyle Campbell's Historical Linguistics: An introduction (second edition, MIT Press), especially the fifth chapter. If that makes sense to you, be our guest: look around this Web site some more, download Wordcorr (it's free), then try it on some of the demonstration collections.

Then if you want to know more, get in touch with us. Or find a linguist in a university near you.

After you've finished looking at this and following out some links, click here to go to New user.

Do you need a degree in linguistics to use Wordcorr?

NO!

Wordcorr is designed so that world class professional linguists can enhance their work by using it. But the principles behind it are well within the grasp of high school students who are interested in languages. Figuring out how languages develop is a kind of Sherlock Holmes game.

And if you do have a degree in linguistics, or even an introductory course in linguistics, you're already on familiar ground with Wordcorr.

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