Language Families

  • Á. Nádasdy
Part of the Acta Neurochirurgica Supplementum book series (NEUROCHIRURGICA, volume 56)


The “genetic” relatedness of languages and their grouping into “families” is a metaphor taken from biology. The family tree model fails to account for the mutual influence of languages; hence the “wave” theory. Family relationships are set up by systematically recurring phonetic differences, rather than similarities. The 4,000 languages are grouped in about 50 language families: linguistics tries to find their common features, called “language universals”.


Language Family Language Universal Mere Chance Regular Correspondence Shared Innovation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Á. Nádasdy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishEötvös Lóránd UniversityBudapestHungary

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