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Re: Ancestors and descendants (analogy)



In a message dated 6/22/2000 2:33:05 PM Pacific Daylight Time, 
rayancog@pacific.net.ph writes:

> I've been thinking about this for some time, and have come up with an
>  analogy from the field of linguistics, since I dabble in that field.

Goody!  I'm about to go for my doctorate in historical linguistics.

>  This is strictly a hypothetical case. We all know of the Romance languages,
>  those derived from Latin: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Romanian,
>  and others. Now let us suppose a group of Romanian-speaking people broke
>  off from the parent population and started speaking a slightly derived
>  language. Over generations this evolved into the first Slavic language,
>  from which others arose (Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, etc.) (I use this
>  example because Romanian is an eastern Romance language, and is
>  geographically adjacent to Slavic languages. Of course, historically
>  Romanian did not give rise to the Slavic languages). Now the Slavic
>  languages are highly derived, with a very different structure. 

Ah, but unless they retain some characters and vocabulary in common with 
Romanian (and the rest of Romance), how would you know that they are derived 
from Romanian?

>  If we were
>  to follow cladistics, Romanian would be classified as the sister group to
>  the Slavic languages. But since it retains more features in common with
>  "other" Romance languages, linguists would retain it in Romance. 

I'm not so sure; historical linguists tend to insist on pretty strict 
monophyly.

Again, if it retains so many more features in common with the rest of Romance 
than it has in common with "Slavic", would cladistic analysis show it as the 
sister to "Slavic"?

Nick P.