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Darwin-L Message Log 1:269 (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.


<1:269>From HOLSINGE@UCONNVM.BITNET  Thu Sep 30 08:48:42 1993

Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1993 09:44:23 -0500 (EST)
From: "Kent E. Holsinger" <HOLSINGE%UCONNVM.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU>
Subject: Re: Heritability and cultural evolution
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Sally Thomason replied to my earlier inquiry about examples of the independent
acquisition of language features with some interesting examples.  Now I have
a further question.

Biologists have often attributed the independent origin of similar forms (wings
in bats and birds, for example) to natural selection for efficient solution of
a similar problem.  More recently explanations have often been sought in terms
of internal constraints that limit the possible solutions.  Do linguists
regard "the fact that [a] particular set of sounds is easier to learn and/or
easier to perceive" as an internal constraint or an externally imposed problem?
Is the question even meaningful?  (If it's not, maybe we biologists can learn
something from our linguistic colleagues.)

-- Kent

+--------------------------------------------------------------------+
|  Kent E. Holsinger    Internet: Holsinge@UConnVM.UConn.edu |
|  Dept. of Ecology &     BITNET: Holsinge@UConnVM     |
|  Evolutionary Biology, U-43              |
|  University of Connecticut               |
|  Storrs, CT 06269-3043               |
+--------------------------------------------------------------------+

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