family-tree theory

noun

Definition of family-tree theory 

: a theory in linguistics: at various periods branches (as Germanic) sprang from a parent language (as Indo-European) and subsequently forked into subbranches (as West Germanic, North Germanic) that later split up into the various modern languages (as English, German, Swedish)

called also pedigree theory

— compare wave theory

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History and Etymology for family-tree theory

translation of German stammbaumtheorie

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