The International Vocabulary

Project director:
Hartmut Traunmüller, Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University.

Project period:
1991 - ????

The aim of this project is to document and study those 'international words' that can be said to be international in a global sense. To qualify for consideration, a word has to be similar in form and meaning in languages whose total number of speakers is considerably larger than the number of members in any single one of the four major cultural regions (Western, Islamic, Indian, Chinese). In most instances, these words have been diffused as loans, but inheritance is also a contributing factor, in particular for the Indo-European group of languages and, in a few instances, apparently for some larger grouping of languages. Some of the words are similar due to onomatopoeia or sound symbolism. Cases of accidental similarity are also considered. The study is based on the vocabularies of the 32 most popular languages. Some additional languages are considered for words belonging to the basic vocabulary. The result is to be presented in a book in which, for each entry, the form of the word is listed in each of the languages in which it is attested, together with a description of its meaning(s) and etymology.

Languages considered regularly:
Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, French -- English, Dutch, German, Swedish -- Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian -- Fula -- Hausa -- Yoruba, Igbo -- Zulu, Swahili -- Malagasy -- Amharic, Arabic -- Turkish, Azeri, Uzbek -- Persian, Pashto -- Urdu-Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Nepali, Bengali -- Telugu, Kannada, Tamil -- Burmese -- Thai -- Malay-Indonesian, Sundanese, Javanese, Cebuano, Tagalog -- Vietnamese -- Cantonese, Chinese -- Korean -- Japanese.

Projektskiss på svenska (i pdf-format)

La plej disvastigxintaj vortoj (en ppt-formato)

Dept. of Linguistics | Stockholm University
Last updated in February 2001