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Re: Linguistic and Biological Systematics



> In a message dated 6/4/01 11:11:02 AM EST, tmk@dinosauricon.com writes:
>
> << Not really; a language is more comparable to a species, and a language
>  family comparable to a clade. Romance still exists, but Latin doesn't
>  (except in academia and religion), just as _Dinosauria_ still exists, but
>  the ancestral dinosaur species doesn't. >>
>
> I'll buy this as soon as someone will explain how to tell when one species
> has changed/is changing into another (descendant) species. To rephrase
> cladistically, would Latin cease to exist once another language has
branched
> off from it?

not necessarily... depends on the case... erm...

> Does ancient Greek no longer exist, or is it after all the same
> species as modern Greek?

For species this is called anagenesis. When a species doesn't branch but
changes over a long time, it sooner or later looks different than before.
Then you arbitrarily draw a line at a certain level in the stratigraphy and
give different names to the lineage before and after. The lines are of
course a pretty fuzzy affair. AFAIK some taxonomists have argued that this
shouldn't be done at all. (Drawing such lines is much easier when punctuated
equilibrium occurs.)