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family-tree theory

[fam-uh-lee tree, fam-lee-] /ˈfæm ə li ˈtri, ˈfæm li-/
noun, Historical Linguistics
1.
a theory that describes language change in terms of genetically related languages developing in successive splits from a common parent language, such as Indo-European, as depicted by a family tree diagram.
Compare wave theory.
Origin
1930-1935
1930-35
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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