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Page history last edited by Alex Backer, Ph.D. 13 years, 8 months ago

      Tree of Babel is a non-profit wiki to build a genealogical tree of the words of all human languages. To document the etymology of all words, and show how (or whether) they all trace back to one original language.


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      A wiki is a collaborative website which everybody can modify. A live record of a community's knowledge. Use of Tree of Babel is and will always be provided free of charge.

      Word of the week: Barter.

      Previous words of the week: Vagina.

      Tree of Babel was born out of my frustration with the relative poverty of existing etymological dictionaries, the fact that they usually don't go as far back as one would like them to, and the belief that a community of people speaking the world's tongues has, in aggregate, more knowledge about the world's languages than even the single most erudite linguist. Often, in one of my travels I would visit a faraway land and find similarities between languages in altogether different families. For example, the words for the number seven are strikingly similar across even the most distant language families. I thought to myself: "If only everybody who had that experience could register those similarities all in the same place, the history of language would emerge". As the project advances, one hope is that not only will the evolution of languages emerge in the interrelationships, but that we may also glimpse, from those words which show the deepest and broadest relationships across all language families, the original language from which all others emerged. One source of inspiration has been Merritt Ruhlen's wonderful book, The Origin of Language, which I highly recommend.

      Today, Tree of Babel is just starting out, so you have a chance to make a meaningful contribution. One day, I hope Tree of Babel will be the largest compendium of knowledge about human languages, their origin and evolution.

      If you would like to contribute to Tree of Babel, you may add pages for words or for any other feature of a language (such as a sound, an alphabet or a grammatical property); read instructions on how to create a new entry. Or you can add links to represent relationships between words or other features. Or you may translate this page (or any other) to your favorite language, in the hope of attracting contributions from non-English speakers. You may even add a page for a language, and illustrate its overall relationship with other languages with links to other languages' pages. You could even write a program to automatically update relationships between language pages as the pages for individual words of a language are updated. As Tree of Babel grows, so will its structure, so feel free to contribute your own ideas of how this wiki should be structured: use your imagination, and lead by example!

      Or simply peruse Tree of Babel for your enlightenment or entertainment. You may use the Search Box in the upper right to search for specific words, or navigate links from the words in this introduction to navigate across the evolution of languages following relationships between words.

Languages are alive, so as languages evolve, so will Tree of Babel.



Alex BĂ€cker, Ph.D.

Founder, Tree of Babel

Altadena, California, USA

July 31st, 2006


P.S. PBWiki currently requires the use of a password to be able to edit the wiki. The password is 'treeofbabel' (no quotes).

P.S. 2. Questions? Comments? You may email me at alextreeofbabel.org .


Please note that all contributions to Tree of Babel are considered to be released under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly and redistributed at will, then don't submit it here. You are also promising us that you wrote this yourself, or copied it from a public domain or similar free resource. DO NOT SUBMIT COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION!


You may also visit:

      WikiTree, a sister project to map out the genealogy of people.

     TowerofBabel, a related project to map out relationships of languages rather than words.


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