Pagel, M., Atkinson, Q. D., Calude, A. S. & Meade, A. (2013). Reply to Mahowald and Gibson and to Heggarty: No problems with short words, and no evidence provided. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(34), E3255.
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Mahowald and Gibson (1) suggest that the shorter word length of frequently used words, and not their stability, could mean that chance sound correspondences account for the pattern of results we report for cognate relationships among proto-words in our study of seven Eurasian language families (2). However, their −0.24 correlation between the phonological length of contemporary English words and our measure of cognate class size is not relevant to the question of chance sound correspondences among the proto-words from different language families. What must be demonstrated is that shorter proto-words were more likely to be judged cognate simply on the basis of their length.