When is a word descended from another word? Is it limited to ancestor-to-child language relationship? If, for example, Spanish borrows from French, is the loanword a descendant of the French word?

  • 2
    I'm not aware of descendant word as an established phrase, so if I encountered it in a text I would not necessarily know whether the writer meant to include or exclude borrowings.
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 11 '18 at 10:57
  • Take for example the Wiktionary entry gutta.
    – coco
    Feb 11 '18 at 11:07
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    Ah. So, I look in Wiktionary's Entry layout and I find that there it means "terms in other languages that have borrowed or inherited the word." That doesn't mean that other sources will use it the same way.
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 11 '18 at 11:37
  • 1
    @ColinFine. That is one of the many problems with Wiktionary.
    – fdb
    Feb 11 '18 at 14:52
  • 1
    @fdb. I agree. But at least it does specify exactly what it means, if you know where to look.
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 11 '18 at 16:25

In linguistics we distinguish (usually) between descendants and borrowings. French chauve "bald" is a descendant of Latin calvus. French calvitie "baldness" is borrowed from Latin calvities.

  • 3
    For instance, note the various different descendant and borrowed cognates to various PIE roots in English: *penkʷe, *sed-, *dei-.
    – jlawler
    Feb 11 '18 at 17:42

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