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Darwin-L Message Log 1:231 (September 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<1:231>From TREMONT%UCSFVM.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU  Tue Sep 28 11:58:45 1993

Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1993 09:52:50 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Elihu M. Gerson" <TREMONT%UCSFVM.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU>
Subject: Re: Heritability and cultural evolution
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

I think it's pretty well agreed that people tend to speak the language of
their parents and their communities (not necessarily the same thing of
course). And I'm willing to go along with the hypothesis of descent-
with-modification as an explanation for the resemblances among languages
and language families. But not natural selection.

Now what? There are some next questions, e.g.: (1) people pretty much tend
to speak the language of their conquerors too, or at least their
children do. Do we have a theory for this? (2) Sometimes one segment of a
society adopts someone else's language for many purposes. 19th century
Russia is an example, where French and German were used in court and
scientific community on a routine basis. Do we have a theory for this?

Elihu M. Gerson
Tremont Research Institute
458 29 Street
San Francisco, CA 94131
415-285-7837  tremont@ucsfvm.ucsf.edu

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