Publication details [#53924]

Haspelmath, Martin, Uri Tadmor and Bradley Taylor. 2010. Borrowability and the notion of basic vocabulary. Diachronica 27 (2) : 226–246.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


This paper reports on a collaborative quantitative study of loanwords in 41 languages, aimed at identifying meanings and groups of meanings that are borrowing-resistant. It is found that nouns are more borrowable than adjectives or verbs, that content words are more borrowable than function words, and that different semantic fields also show different proportions of loanwords. Several issues arise when one tries to establish a list of the most borrowing-resistant meanings: Our data include degrees of likelihood of borrowing, not all meanings have counterparts in all languages, many words are compounds or derivatives and hence almost by definition non-loanwords. There are also data on the age of words. Thus multiple factors play a role, and this article proposes a way of combining these factors to yield a new 100-item list of basic vocabulary, called the Leipzig-Jakarta list.