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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" <email@example.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, 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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