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Re: Linguistic "budding and reticulation"

English is a good example of reticulate evolution, somewhat analogous to the reticulate origins of the eukaryotic cell.
English is basically Germanic, with an infusion of lots of other languages (American English even more so). The eukaryotic cell is basically metabacterial (aka "archaeal"), with an infusion of different eubacterial organelles (and the genes that came along with them), plus a lot of other horizontal genes that trickled in over the ages.
I have always thought that the similarities between linguistic and biological evolution rather intriguing, since languages paraphyletically bud off from one another rather than actually splitting in cladistic fashion. Both linguistic and biological evolution are very complicated, and cladistic classification only gets the job half done in either case, because it basically ignores anagenesis and reticulation.
From: "Zoe Heraklides" <z_heraklides@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: z_heraklides@hotmail.com
To: dinosaur@usc.edu, Dinogeorge@aol.com
Subject: Re: Linguistic and Biological Systematics
Date: Mon, 04 Jun 2001 20:42:55 -0000

That's one reason I brought up the analogy in the first place. If we can agree on a classification methodology for languages (hah), then maybe we might also be able to agree on a classification methodology for organisms, using the same principle.

I don't think comparing linguistic evolution to biological evolution is as simple as one might like. Remember, English (and most modern languages) is both monophyletic (in the sense that the reason the same language is spoken in different parts of the world is due to a common origin - Britain) and polyphyletic (the English language is derived from multiple origins - Anglo-Saxon, Keltic, French, Latin, Greek...).


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