Related words

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Related words or relatives , sometimes also referred to as cognates in linguistics ( English cognate , from Latin cognatus , 'co-born, related' ; singular : the cognate ), are two or more words that have developed from the same original word ( etymon ). Word pairs or larger groups of words that form relatives are referred to as related , originally related, or cognate .

Knowledge of the sound laws allows relatives to be identified. It turns out that language change goes hand in hand with systematic sound change . The sound change process captures all words in a language. If systematic phonetic correspondences can be identified between equivalent words in the different languages, there is high evidence that these words are related and are derived from the same word in the common original language of the language group being compared .

It does not matter whether the words belong to the same language. The meaning may have stayed the same or diverged. For example, French fils and Italian figlio are relatives, as they both go back to the Latin filius 'son'. Likewise, German number , English tale 'story, story' and Dutch taal 'language' are related, although their meanings are not the same. In the strict sense, only hereditary words can be relatives, but loanwords and parallel neoplasms cannot. If different relatives have developed from an original word in a language, such as cellar and cell from the Latin cella , they are referred to as "etymological duplicates".

The study of relatives in the form of word equations is an important method in historical-comparative linguistics.


  • Boris Paraškevov: Words and names of the same origin and structure: Lexicon of etymological duplicates in German. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-11-017470-7 ( detailed reading sample in the Google book search).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Eg not in the standard works by Metzler and Bußmann
  2. Gerhard Jäger: How bioinformatics helps to reconstruct the history of language. University of Tübingen, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Seminar for Linguistics, pp. 1–27
  3. M. Philippa, F. Debrabandere, A. Quak, T. Schoonheim and N. van der Sijs (2003–2009) Etymologically Woordenboek van het Nederlands, Amsterdam: taal, zn.
  4. Robert Möller: When are cognates recognizable? Similarity and synchronous transparency of cognate relationships in Germanic intercomprehension . In: Linguistics online . tape 46 , no. 2 , March 1, 2011, p. 79–101 , doi : 10.13092 / lo.46.373 ( [accessed on April 13, 2020]).