The dictionary / comparative philological study consists of the following words only: daughter/sister, butterfly, death and lightning. Typically, one of these words is written at the top of a page and then it is translated into a variety of different languages, such as Finnish, Armenian, Ainu, Telugu, Pahlavi, Mongol, Swahili, Sanskrit, Assyrian, Tatar, Mayan, Estonian, Tamil, Old English, Latin, Greek, Aztec, Iroquoian, Malay, Javanese, Thai and Tagalog.
The author has annotated the text by hand and has written the following note on the first page "Anthony Burgess: As you can see it is hard to say what is the I.[ndo] E.[uropean] root and what the Ural/Altaic - there is so little difference. All I could do was to try to use the same representative languages throughout the lexicon. - Sometimes all of them come into play - at other times, like this, only a a few language (groups) share the same root, or have transitions leading into it. The paradigm for Sister/Daughter runs to 3 pages. - Edward R?hm?".