Among many languages used in Southeast Asia (especially I want to talk about Malay, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Thai), is there any study about which pair of languages is close to each other in vocabulary?

For example, there is a study about a lexical similarity in major Indo-European languages. I would like to know, if any, these kind of studies. It would be better if the study includes English, Chinese, and/or Japanese, though I'm dubious Japanese have much influence on these languages.

It would be still useful enough if you just compare it based on your experiences, but would be better to get any figure based on scientific research.

  • Malay and Tagalog are both Austronesian languages, and though their grammar is different, the basic cognates are easy to see; about like Portuguese and Rumanian. Thai and Vietnamese, on the other hand, are each from a different family, so the only expected vocabulary similarities would be either coincidences (typically a couple dozen words) or borrowings (of one from another, or of all from some extra source, like Chinese or English).
    – jlawler
    Oct 23, 2016 at 17:18
  • 1
    @jlawler. Or substrate words. These play a big role in Austroasiatic and Austronesian.
    – fdb
    Jan 20, 2018 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


This would be the results for an automated lexical comparison of the constants for the Beaufils № 18 word list; Eye, Ear, Nose, Hand, Tongue, Tooth, Death, Water, Sun, Wind, Night, Two, Three, Four, I, You, Who & Name.


This is not an in depth analysis, but rather an automated comparison of words that work very well to determine relationships in Indo-European languages.

The lower the number the closer the two languages are. Thai to Shan with |22| would be comparable to English to Norwegian. Burmese to Tibetan |55| would be similar to English to Slovakian. Thai to Tagalog |76| would be the equivalent of English to Kurdish. Whereas the higher the number the more inexact this comparison is, the more likely there is a random correlation.

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