Appendix:Swadesh lists - Wiktionary
Swadesh list, Dolgopolsky list, Leipzig–Jakarta list

Word borrowing, or more precisely, copying, is so common that one might expect it to make it difficult to discern genetic relationships between languages, relationship by ancestry. But words for some sorts of things are not very often borrowed, and they thus can be useful for discerning such relationships.

Several linguists have attempted to construct such lists of seldom-borrowed words, like Morris Swadesh in the mid 20th cy., with a list of 200 words, and then 100 words from that list. Some of the entries are more stable than others, and Sergei Yakhontov found a subset of 35 words that are relatively stable in it. Another linguist, Aharon Dolgopolsky, found a list of only 15 words.

The creators of the Leipzig-Jakarta List decided to approach this question more systematically, and that list's 100 words have only 62 entries in common with the 100-word Swadesh list.

Here is the Dolgopolsky List:
  • I/me
  • two/pair
  • you (singular, informal)
  • who/what
  • tongue
  • name
  • eye
  • heart
  • tooth
  • no/not
  • nail (finger-nail)
  • louse/nit
  • tear/teardrop
  • water
  • dead

Such conserved words fall into several categories:
  • "Name"
  • Negation: "not"
  • Small numbers
  • Pronouns
  • Both sexes of humanity and family relations
  • Body parts
  • Common animals and plants
  • Common substances, natural phenomena, and environment features
  • Basic colors
  • Common actions and properties