every branch of Eurasiatic, Greenberg says. In the Uralic family, Finnish has ken, meaning who? In Altaic, Turkic has kim, with the same meaning. In all dialects of Eskimo who is kina.

There are many interrogative words, so if one rummages around in all the languages of a proposed family, it's perhaps not so hard to find a few k-words. The same may be true of n-words for negatives. Greenberg's case for Eurasiatic rests not on any specific case but on the combination of a large number of such similarities that he has turned up. These include 72 types of grammatical similarity, though most are shared by only some of the eight postulated families of Eurasiatic. Nonetheless, "This grammatical evidence is quite sufficient in itself to establish the validity of the Eurasiatic family," Greenberg says.

Turning to words, as distinct from grammar, it's probably reasonable to assume that a given sound will ricochet around a related set of meanings over time. The assumption raises the chances of spotting a relationship between language families, but also of picking up accidental similarities. No single group of cognate words is conclusive, but large numbers can begin to make a case. Greenberg has found 437 groups of cognates for

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