Estimating Phonetic Probability in Etymology

Stachowski K.

JOURNAL OF QUANTITATIVE LINGUISTICS, vol.29, no.3, pp.339-349, 2022 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 29 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/09296174.2021.1877458
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Communication & Mass Media Index, Linguistic Bibliography, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.339-349
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: No


An etymological proposition is often said to be probable or improbable from the phonetic point of view, and it is not rare for opinions to diverge on which it is. The estimation is typically purely intuitive, based on perceived similarity and no more than a handful of analogous examples. This paper proposes a method for quantifying the phonetic probability of an etymology and comparing it to the alternative hypothesis. It is intended to be used with sizable datasets, to produce a well-supported, objective verdict.