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A stock is a genealogical group of languages of considerable time depth, where the relatedness of the languages is typically not evident and can only be shown after detailed historical-comparative work.

  • "The stock, a grouping of about the diversity and time depth of Indo-European, exhibiting correspondences which are regular (though often not transparent to non-sepcialists), substantial cognate vocabulary, and significant cognate paradigmaticity in grammar. The time depth aimed at is over 5000 years (Indo-European is some 6000 years old). The stock is the highest level reconstructible by the standard comparative method." (Nichols 1992:24-25)



English stock (originally 'tree trunk or stump') has long been used in the sense of 'origin' or 'family', apparently following Latin stirps 'trunk; origin; family'. The OED has attestations of stock referring to languages families since the 18th century.


  • Nichols, Johanna. 1992. Linguistic diversity in space and time. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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